Ryan Creamer of Bay Shore, Michael Duffy of Wantagh, and Lawrence Onyegu of Owerre-Ezukala Nigeria
(Long Island, NY) On Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 11:00 a.m., the Most Reverend William Murphy, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, will ordain three men who have been in formation at the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington. This Mass of Ordination will be held at Saint Agnes Cathedral and will be broadcast live on Telecare, the diocesan television station (Cablevision, Channel 29/Verizon FiOS 296).
Mass of Ordination
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Saint Agnes Cathedral
29 Quealy Place
Rockville Centre, New York 11570
Deacon Ryan Creamer, 27
Home parish: Church of Saint Patrick, Bay Shore
Pastoral year: Church of Saint Mary of the Isle, Long Beach
For the native of Saint Patrick’s Church, Bay Shore, his vocation was more of a natural progression of how he was raised. “I came from a practicing family. You didn’t miss Mass on Sundays. I was taught to pray at a very early age, encouraged by grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well, so the practice of the faith was just something that was normal and a part of our family life.”
Deacon Creamer studied philosophy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. for two years before moving across the street to Theological College for the three-year philosophy program for seminarians. That’s where he really felt his vocation confirmed, he said. “When I was graduating out of the program, I said I’ll certainly be going on to theology. They had a nice crossover of professors and priests. It actually made me very appreciative of philosophy and that’s still the area and the discipline that I like the most, that I roll into the interpretation of things and homilies. I like to draw on those five years (of philosophy) but also to do it in a way, not as a lecture, but as a message that can be communicated very easily, pastorally, to the faithful.”
He continued his theology studies at Gregorian University in Rome. Deacon Creamer spent his pastoral year at Saint Mary of the Isle Church in Long Beach, “which was an excellent experience. I’m a huge fan of Long Beach. I really learned a lot about how to live in a parish and how to work in a parish.”
Once he is ordained and has received his assignment, Deacon Creamer said, he’s “looking forward to the challenges, the randomness of (the priesthood). It won’t be the case that I wake up and I know that 7:30 is morning prayer, 11:45 is Mass, I’m going to be in a class and here’s the assignment. Instead, I know I’m going to be waking up saying, ‘Who knows what’s going to happen.’ It allows me to function as a responsible individual and I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Deacon Michael Duffy, 27
Home parish: Church of Saint Frances De Chantal, Wantagh
Pastoral year: Church of Saint Joseph, Ronkonkoma
“I remember the first time going to church after having not gone for many, many years,” noted Deacon Michael Duffy, 27. “I sat in the back pew, I didn’t know anything that was going on, I looked up at the priest and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m supposed to do that.’”
Around freshman year of high school, “I took a challenge from a friend to go to church,” and it was at that Mass in his home parish of Saint Frances de Chantal in Wantagh that he knew he wanted to become a priest. “I haven’t missed a Sunday since that day back in ninth grade, over 14 years ago. People say, ‘How’d you know you want to be a priest?’ And I say, ‘How’d you know you wanted to get married?’ I fell in love. I fell in love with the Church.”
He started going to the youth Mass and joined the parish youth group, and about a year later then-Rev. Msgr. Robert Guglielmone, now bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, “offered me a job at the parish,” said Deacon Duffy. “It was through that that I saw the life of the Church. I jumped into it with two feet. I saw there was something vibrant going on there. It gave me a glimpse into the lives of the priests who lived there, and I saw that they were happy men, that they were fulfilled. They didn’t need to be married, they didn’t need to make a lot of money. That’s not where fulfillment comes from. Fulfillment comes from giving yourself to another, and for priests, we give ourselves to Jesus Christ. They say there is no better vocation director than a happy priest, and that’s what did it for me.”
After three years at Fordham University, he moved into the seminary residence at Douglaston for his senior year. “I felt like I couldn’t ignore Him anymore,” he explained. “I had to take the plunge, I had to jump in. It was time.
“Deacon Duffy’s pastoral year at Saint Joseph’s Church in Ronkonkoma was “probably the best experience I ever had. When you’re in the seminary, you get these ideas that this is the way it’s going to work. I got to pastoral year and said, ‘Hold on. That’s not going to work.’ Each parish is different. Each priest is different. Each individual parishioner is different. The biggest fear I have is getting in the way. We lead others to Christ, not to ourselves, and pastoral year was a beautiful experience of keying into the things that go on in a parish and not getting in the way, not taking over them.”
“I can’t wait to celebrate my first Mass,” Deacon Duffy said. “What an honor it is to stand in His place and offer the Eucharist and forgive sins in His name. It’s an awesome responsibility but I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I can’t imagine being as fulfilled as I am right now. And I’m not even a priest yet!”
Deacon Lawrence Onyegu, 30
Home parish: Church of Saint Patrick, Owerre-Ezukala, Anambra State Nigeria
Pastoral year: Church of SS. Cyril and Methodius, Deer Park
For Deacon Lawrence Onyegu, becoming a priest is about hope but also about sacrifices, the biggest one of which is probably leaving his homeland of Nigeria to serve the people of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
“I grew up in a very good Catholic background, rooted in the Catholic faith,” said Deacon Onyegu, 30. “We went to Mass every Sunday, I would see what’s going on at Mass. As luck would have it, my family has a lot of priests as friends who would visit us, and we could see all the good things they do, how they help people, how they treat others, the service they give to people, and it made me want to be like these priests.”
When he first came to New York, a family friend from Nigeria was serving as a priest at Saint. Peter the Apostle parish in Islip Terrace. “He and Father Hugh Cannon, who was the pastor there, they helped me a lot to get into American culture. If either one had discouraged me, I might have left, but they kept me encouraged.” He also spent time at Saint Edward’s Church in Syosset.
Deacon Onyegu spent his pastoral year serving SS. Cyril and Methodius Church in Deer Park, “one of the largest parishes in the diocese. It’s a very busy parish — funerals, weddings, Masses. All the time there’s something going on in that parish. I liked it a lot.” Some of the cultural differences were a bit of a challenge for him, though. “They happened to put me in a very large parish, one of the largest, with not that many black people; they have a large white population, but the people are lovely. They accepted me. And it’s very encouraging that the people of God still love their priests. It was one of my best parishes.”
“It’s a challenge” to be so far from home, he admitted. “My mom died when I was 16. That was one of the toughest things in my life. The first time I came here, it was hard for me” with no family here. “But it’s a sacrifice. If you’re going to serve God’s people, it’s a sacrifice. If you get married, it’s a sacrifice. Leaving your country, it’s a sacrifice. My twin brother came over, so he became part of my family here. My little brother came over. But some of my brothers and sisters are still in Nigeria.”
Deacon Onyegu said after his ordination he is most looking forward to “serving God’s people. Nothing gives more joy than to serve the people of God. Doctors can do that, nurses can do that, but as a priest, you’re given a special grace, to raise your hand and forgive a sinner, to change the bread into the Body of Christ. People come to you, trusting and believing in you, coming to you with hope. So I’m looking forward to giving hope to the people of God, to being an agent of hope, to share the love of God with everyone.”
About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) was formed in 1957 and covers 1,198 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1,737,498 baptized Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.4 million). There are 134 parishes (1 campus parish) in 115 towns. In 2010, 16,318 baptisms, 16,296 confirmations, 17,123 First Holy Communions and 4,773 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 18,496 students in Catholic elementary schools; 12,328 students in Catholic high schools and 3,500 students in higher institutions. There are 53 Catholic elementary schools (49 parish or regional and 4 private), 10 high schools (3 diocesan, 2 parish and 5 private) and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services (CHS) of Long Island is comprised of six hospitals, three nursing homes, a regional home care and hospice network, and a community-based agency for persons with special needs. More than 17,500 employees and 4,600 credentialed physicians work within the CHS system. In 2010, Catholic Charities assisted more than 53,500 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. (05/12).