By Chuck Moody, Associate Editor
(Two Saint Vincent Seminary graduates celebrated their first anniversary of ordination in 2008. Excerpts from the Pittsburgh Catholic article include interviews with the seminary graduates.)
Father Bill Dorner and Barry O’Leary were ordained June 30, 2007, at St. Paul Cathedral by Aux. Bishop Paul Bradley, who then was diocesan administrator. The three recently described their first year as priests as “wonderful,” “smooth” and “amazing.”
“Very friendly and supportive”
Father Dorner, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Conway, said, “Things have been absolutely wonderful.”
“I love being a priest,” he said, “All of the prayer, study and work necessary to become a priest was well worth it. There is incredible joy in life when you are doing what God wants you to do, and I am experiencing intense joy because I am doing what God wants me to do.
“Now, life as a priest is not always easy. There are incredible challenges, frustrations and heartaches involved. But knowing that I am where God wants me to be brings comfort to me in the tough times. And doing God’s will ultimately brings joy, no matter how difficult it may be.”
Father Dorner says the people of Our Lady of Peace have been very accepting of him.
“The people in my parish have been very friendly and supportive towards me,” he said. “They seem to accept my own style and my quirks, and they always have a nice and friendly word to say. They are good and holy people, and I am blessed to be their parochial vicar.”
Father Dorner said “by far” the favorite aspect of his priesthood is being able to administer the sacraments to the people of God.
“What an awesome joy and responsibility it is to share the grace of God with others,” he said, “It is also very humbling that I, as unworthy as I may be, have been given this responsibility by God.”
Nothing really has surprised Father Dorner regarding his first year of priesthood.
“The church of Pittsburgh has been very good in preparing priests to minister in our present age and in our very secular culture,” he said. “We know exactly what we are getting into. We know of all the challenges that face priests today, but we also know of the incredible blessing that being a priest today affords us. So nothing has been a surprise or unexpected.”
Father Dorner encourages any man who is thinking about the priesthood to talk to his pastor and find out more about being a priest.
“Also, if you may be feeling the call to be a priest, contact the seminary and get involved in the programs that are available for those thinking about entering the seminary,” he said. “You will never regret checking out the seminary, but you will regret not checking it out.”
“A lot of work to be done”
Father O’Leary, a parochial vicar at St. Bernard Parish in Mount Lebanon, said, things have been going very well in his first year of priesthood, “considering my inexperience.”
“The transition from seminary to priesthood was smoother than I imagined that it might be,” he said. “That is due for the most part to the encouragement and assistance I’ve been given by my pastor, fellow priests, and several staff members here. They have been more than patient in answering my questions and helping to alleviate any concerns I have about the technicalities, logistics and/or intricacies peculiar to serving the people of God.”
St. Bernard is a large parish, Father O’Leary said.
“There is a lot of work to be done,” he said. “Many people to minister to and to work with. The parishioners have gone out of their way to welcome me, encourage me and to offer their support to me. That welcome and support continues, although I’ve been here a year, and I am no longer new to the parish.”
Father O’Leary’s favorite aspect of priesthood, “without a doubt it is celebrating Mass every day and administering the sacraments.”
He said there were no real surprises in his first year a priest.
“Our seminary formation was pretty extensive,” he said. “Of course that doesn’t mean that certain elements of priestly life are not difficult and trying. It is just that. So far, thank God, I haven’t been caught completely by surprise. That experience is still to come.”