Three men ordained priests for diocese
One of the most striking features of an ordination Mass is the unmistakable feeling of joy. A joy for men who are committing their lives to Christ and his church.
That joy filled St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood June 30 for the ordination of Fathers Kevin Fazio, Frederick Gruber and Michael Sedor.
“This is a big deal,” said Bishop David Zubik, in welcoming his new brothers to the presbyterate. “This is a big day in the Church of Pittsburgh.”
As part of the ancient ordination rite, the three promised respect and obedience to Bishop Zubik and his successors. They then prostrated themselves before the altar as part of the litany of supplication.
In the most solemn gesture of the rite, Bishop Zubik silently placed his hands on the head of each new priest. The other priests present followed, signifying their solidarity in priestly ministry.
The new priests were then invested with their stole and chasuble (priestly garments) and their palms were anointed with holy chrism by the bishop.
Bishop Zubik extended his fraternal greeting, as did the other members of the presbyterate.
In his homily, the bishop spoke of the paths the men traveled to the priesthood. Of how Father Fazio was destined to head his familyå business until the Lord interceded. He spoke of his sense of humor, his knack at doing impersonations and his skill at preaching God’s Word.
Bishop Zubik pointed to Father Gruber’s sharp mind and tender heart. A man, he noted, who could have been a great professor.
He recalled Father Sedor’s practical jokes and his love of the liturgy, and how his vocation steered him away from a career as a scientist.
In reminding the three of their role to teach and sanctify, Bishop Zubik told them that they must carry out the ministry of the priesthood with constant joy and love.
“The church has a great need for holy, healthy Catholic priests,” he said.
The bishop told the new priests that they must be men of prayer, be obedient to their call and give their hearts to the Lord through their observance of celibacy and chastity, which frees them to love people in the way Christ loves us.
They must let the holiness of their lives be a witness to others, he said, and attend not to their own needs and concerns, but to those of the people they serve.
“Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served, but to serve,” he said.
As the liturgy drew to a close, Bishop Zubik presented the three with their priestly faculties. He then asked for their blessings before they offered their blessing to the congregation.
Bishop Zubik also gave the new priests their first assignments.
Father Fazio has been appointed parochial vicar at St. Paul, St. Michael the Archangel and St. Peter parishes, all in Butler. Father Gruber will serve as a parochial vicar pro-tem at St. Maurice in Forest Hills until September when he will return to Rome for his final year of studies at North American College.
Father Sedor will serve as a parochial vicar at St. Maria Goretti in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield, Garfield and Friendship neighborhoods until he returns to North American College in September.
Newly ordained priest looking forward to service
By JOHN FRANKO
One of Father Frederick Gruber’s earliest memories was wanting to be a priest. When he was young, he used to imagine himself preaching from the pulpit of St. Sylvester Parish in Brentwood.
He realized that dream when he said his first Mass there on July 1.
Father Gruber pointed to several clergy influences growing up, including his uncle, Benedictine Father Mark Gruber.
While he had always harbored an interest in the priesthood, his call intensified during his years at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va. He enjoyed the academic life, but he found himself increasingly involved in campus ministry. His interests included meeting people in prayer, serving Mass and the Legion of Mary.
“When I found myself gravitating toward all of these things that reflected the life of a priest, the busyness of parish life, that helped me to realize where my heart was,” Father Gruber said.
He met with Father Thomas Sparacino, who was then serving as vocations director for the diocese, during the Christmas break of his senior year. He also considered the Dominican order before deciding that he wanted to serve in his own diocese. He entered St. Paul Seminary in the fall of 2006.
Father Gruber spoke of many blessings during his seminary years. He pointed out that he enjoyed the academic formation, especially when it came to the great saints and martyrs of the church.
He attended Duquesne University for two years before going on to North American College in Rome.
Father Gruber confessed that while he thought he knew a lot about the faith academically, his experience in Rome rounded out his formation experience of the church. Meeting classmates from places such as Africa, Asia and South America, he noted, witnessed to him the universality of the faith and made it more real to him.
He served pastoral experiences at St. Joseph in Coraopolis and St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair. He noted the influence of Father Michael Caridi, pastor of St. Louise de Marillac, in giving him a pastoral perspective of a parish.
Father Gruber said that both parishes provided him with a glimpse of the beauty of the parish community and church.
“I saw in so many ways how Christ is at work,” he said.
The new priest is looking forward to celebrating the sacramental ministry of the church and meeting the people of God in new ways.
Father Gruber urged those considering a vocation to be devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and pray the rosary daily. He also advises them to look at the question of what kind of life will allow them to grow in giving and receiving love as much as possible.
“If you ask that question and see where your heart is, it will help shed light on your discernment,” he said. “It’s something that helped me at that time.”
Call to ministry difficult for new priest to ignore
By CHUCK MOODY
Father Kevin Fazio didn’t think seriously about becoming a priest until he was about 30.
“After about two years of trying to stomp out the fire in my heart, or deny the ‘tugging at my heart’ that I might be called to serve God and others as a priest, I finally decided to at least check into what the seminary was all about,” said Father Fazio, who was one of three men ordained to the priesthood June 30 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.
“It got to the point where everyday when I awoke, my first thought was, ‘What would my day be like today if I were a priest? Who would I meet? What would I do?’
“It was during this period of time that I began reading more about priesthood, about genuinely discerning a call, and this all entered into my prayer life as well. I would stop at a church on the way to, or on the way home from work for a few minutes, or occasionally attend daily Mass before work. I also began speaking with a few of our priests and our seminarians, some of whom are now ordained priests themselves. So, I took baby steps until finally applying and entering St. Paul Seminary in the fall of 2006.”
Father Fazio, 40, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from John Carrolll University and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh before entering the seminary. His home parish is St. Kilian in Adams and Cranberry townships. His parents are Donald and Bernadette Fazio and he has two sisters, Jennifer and Nadine.
“After college I worked for Weirton Steel Corp. for a little over four years,” he said. “And in the six and a half years prior to entering the seminary, I worked for my family’s business, Diamond Wire Spring Co., a manufacturer of steel springs and wire forms. For the most part, I enjoyed working in business, and especially working with my dad and other family members during my years at Diamond Wire Spring. It is still difficult for me today, in some ways, to accept that fact that my decision to leave the company kind of ‘threw a wrench’ into our family business succession plans that we were in the process of developing.”
Father Fazio said he didn’t know any priests personally while growing up, and he never had any kind of relationship with a priest until he began thinking about entering the seminary.
“The priests with whom I spoke in the year or so prior to entering the seminary were very helpful: Fathers Matt McClain, Charlie Bober, Bob Vular and Bill Wiethorn,” he said.
A cousin of Father Fazio’s, who was in seminary for a few years in the early 1990s before discerning that priesthood was not his vocation, had some good advice for him while he was thinking about entering.
“In fact, I still have a letter or two that he wrote me,” he said. “I suppose, however, that the person who has influenced my spiritual life the most is my mom. But she’ll tell you that she never prayed that I be ordained a priest.”
Father Fazio said he could not have gone through the seminary and been ordained “without the support of many, many people ... prayerfully, financially, verbally, via letters and encouraging words. And being welcomed into the hearts and the lives of all the people whom I have met during these past six years, especially the folks at the parishes I have been assigned (St. Kilian, St. Anne in Castle Shannon and St. Maurice in Forest Hills).
“The love that I have experienced is beyond description. Along with the Eucharist, the people are life-giving.”
Father Fazio said the aspects of the priesthood he is looking most forward to after being ordained are “being conformed to Jesus Christ and his church that is unique to the ministerial priesthood. (And) To love and to be loved as a priest.”
Bringing others into Christ's love, important to priest
By PATRICIA BARTOS
Senior Staff Writer
Michael Sedor dreamt of becoming a scientist and completed a degree in physics at Carnegie Mellon University before deciding to enter the seminary.
He had been intrigued with the idea of the priesthood since adolescence, and moved quickly after graduating in May of 2006 — he made his decision in July and entered St. Paul Seminary in Crafton in August.
Father Michael Sedor was among three men ordained to the priesthood June 30 in St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood with Bishop David Zubik officiating.
He said his first Mass July 1 at 4:30 p.m. in his home parish of St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair.
The son of Virginia and the late Leonard Sedor, he also has two brothers, John and Barry, and a sister, Leigh Anne.
He was in grade school when a visiting priest preached at Mass about how the church needed young men to answer God’s call.
“For some reason, I felt like he was speaking directly to me,” Father Sedor said. “The idea of a vocation was always somewhere in the back of my mind.”
He didn’t seriously begin discerning his vocation until his second year of college. It wasn’t one idea in particular that drew him. “I really think that it was a matter of Christ implanting the desire in my heart,” he said.
Yet, one thing that drew him further on the path was the liturgy.
“I was and still am fascinated by the way in which our church gives praise and worship to the living God,” he said. “I enjoyed looking deeper into the ways in which we pray, worship and offer sacrifice together as a community and how that prayer in turn affects what we believe.”
While in college, he was an altar server at the Newman Center in Oakland, where, he said, “I became more and more attracted to the idea of a life lived for others, dedicated to bringing others into the heart of Christ’s love. What could be better than that?”
The priests he cited as the biggest influence on his decision were Fathers Joseph Sioli, David Abernathy, James Wehner and others who worked in campus ministry in Oakland.
“They might not know it, but they all gave me good examples of intelligent, happy and holy priests.”
To this list he added Blessed John Paul II’s “example of priestly holiness,” and SS. John Vianney and Maximilian Kolbe.
At Carnegie Mellon he was interested in astrophysics and cosmology, but gradually, he said, “I realized that God just made me for something else.
“I am very happy that I finished my physics degree though; my scientific background gives me a unique perspective in life and I think it will be useful in my priesthood.”
Father Sedor completed a master’s degree in philosophy at Duquesne University and is now in his fourth year of studies at Pontifical North American College in Rome. He completed his summer pastoral experience at St. Irenaeus in Oakmont.
The local church is “very blessed to have as its shepherd Bishop Zubik and it seems to me that he wants as many of his priests as possible to be close to the people and serving in the parishes,” Father Sedor said.
“I think this is a very interesting day and age to be a Catholic and especially to be a priest. Many of our basic freedoms like the freedom of religion and the right to life, as well as many of the basic and central beliefs of our faith, are under constant and persistent attack.
“I’m looking forward to following Bishop Zubik’s example, as well as the example of so many of the priests that I know, of standing up and preaching the Gospel of Christ to a society that doesn’t necessarily want to hear it.
“Because whether or not we want to hear it, we need it.”