The Archdiocese of Washington’s one-day Convocation for priests on May 18 concluded with a celebration of the priesthood, as Cardinal Wilton Gregory presided at a Mass honoring local priests marking milestone anniversaries of 60, 50, 40 and 25 years since their ordinations. At the Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Landover Hills, 16 priests marking anniversaries in 2021 were recognized, as were 19 priests who celebrated anniversaries in 2020, since that year’s celebration was postponed due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Just before the Mass, Cardinal Gregory expressed gratitude to the priests gathered for the convocation, saying he has witnessed their faithful, dedicated service. He noted on May 21 he will begin his third year of service as Washington’s archbishop, and said he has felt blessed to serve this family of faith since day one.

The homilist at the Mass, Msgr. Robert Panke – the pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland – spoke as one of the jubilarians, marking his 25th anniversary since his ordination in 1996.

“It’s been quite a year. I feel blessed to be back with my brothers,” Msgr. Panke said.

He noted that he and his fellow priests all have COVID-19 stories. He joked that it took him 23 years before he finally became a pastor in 2019, and he had most looked forward to celebrating the Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter – with his parishioners, and then the lockdown happened. But he said that as the priests and seminarians spent that time together then, “it changed the culture in our rectory. We wanted to be with each other. Jesus wants us to be united in Him.”

Msgr. Panke said that in addition to himself, his rectory includes two other priests marking anniversaries – Father Peter Sweeney, a retired priest marking his 60th, and Father Stefan Yap, soon to mark his first year since his ordination. Msgr. Panke, noting how Father Sweeney says of his priesthood, “What a life!”, added that he has been inspired by living with veteran priests and seeing their continuing service, and he suggested that the phrase “retired priests” be scuttled from the Church’s vocabulary, since the work of a priest never ends.

“Our lives are such a blessing,” he said, noting priests lives help bring about “a flood of graces” as they celebrate Masses and administer the sacraments, bringing Christ’s love and mercy to people at all stages of their lives, from Baptism through Anointing of the Sick.

Msgr. Robert Panke, the pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland, who is marking his 25th anniversary in 2021, gives the homily at the May 18 Mass for Jubilarian Priests at St. Mary’s Parish in Landover Hills. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

Before becoming a pastor, Msgr. Panke served as a parochial vicar at St. Peter’s in Olney, as a Catholic chaplain at George Washington University, as priest vocations director for the archdiocese, and then from 2011 to 2019 as the founding rector of the Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington.

“The priesthood in its essence gives glory to God… In our priesthood, we are a gift back to God,” he said, later adding, “May the remaining days of our priesthood bring glory to God.”

Msgr. Panke pointed out how St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles offered an inspiring example of priesthood, even continuing his ministry while imprisoned, living his life all for Jesus.

“We certainly have a lot of work to do in our culture, a lot of hard work to evangelize. We have to be willing to suffer for the truth, but it will be a great joy if we are rooted in Christ,” he said.

Concluding his homily, Msgr. Panke, noted how St. John Paul II in a 1979 Mass for priests in Philadelphia, encouraged unity among priests, saying that reflects God’s call for all people, “to the union of love with Him and one another.”

In addition to the participating priests, the concelebrants at the Mass included Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the retired archbishop of Washington; and Auxiliary Bishops Mario Dorsonville and Roy Campbell Jr.

At the Mass, prayers were offered for three of the 2020 priest jubilarians who died last year – Franciscan Father Chris Posch, the former pastor of St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, and Father Charles Green, a retired priest, both of whom were marking their 25th anniversaries, and Father William Goode, a retired priest marking his 60th anniversary. Cardinal Gregory also offered a prayer for the men studying to become priests.

At the end of the May 18 Mass honoring jubilarian priests, Cardinal Gregory at right presents a gift of a specially engraved pyx to Father Peter Alliata, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Washington marking his 60th anniversary in 2021. The jubilee priests were each presented with a golden pyx engraved on the back with the number of years they have served as priests. A pyx is a container in which the consecrated Eucharist is kept and is used to carry the Eucharist to the sick. Standing in the back is Father Charles Cortinovis, the cardinal’s priest secretary. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

2021 Jubilarians

(Priests in the Archdiocese of Washington marking milestone anniversaries in 2021 will be profiled in the June 24, 2021 Catholic Standard and the articles will appear on the Catholic Standard website.)

60th anniversaries (ordained to the priesthood in 1961)

  • Father Peter Alliata – retired since 2010 and in residence at St. John Vianney Parish in Prince Frederick, Father Alliata served as the founding pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Waldorf from 1980-87. Over the years, he also served as a pastor at Holy Angels in Avenue, St. James in Mount Rainier and Immaculate Conception in Mechanicsville.
  • Father Peter Sweeney – a native of Ireland, he retired in 2012 and is in residence at St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg. Over the years, Father Sweeney served as pastor of Our Lady of Grace in Silver Spring, St. Paul in Damascus and St. Joseph in Landover (now Largo).

50th anniversaries (ordained to the priesthood in 1971)

  • Father Robert Richardson – retired since 2005, over the years he served as pastor at St. John Baptist de la Salle in Chillum, St. Catherine of Alexandria in McConchie, St. Ignatius Loyola in Hilltop and St. Francis de Sales in Benedict.
  • Father Joseph Sileo – retired since 2013, he served as pastor at St. Bartholomew in Bethesda, Holy Face in Great Mills and Nativity in Washington, D.C.
At the Mass for jubilarian priests, Cardinal Gregory congratulates Msgr. Charles Parry, the pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Rockville, Maryland who is marking his 40th anniversary this year. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

40th anniversaries (ordained to the priesthood in 1981)

  • Msgr. Raymond East – a nationally known evangelist and speaker, Msgr. East has served as the pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Washington since 2004 and was also pastor there from 1988 to 1997. He also served as the director of the Office of Black Catholics for the Archdiocese of Washington and as pastor of Nativity Parish in Washington.
  • Msgr. Charles Parry – the pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Rockville since 2017, Msgr. Parry served as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie from 2000 to 2017 and earlier served as an assistant secretary for Catholic education for the Archdiocese of Washington.
  • Father Thomas Clifford, S.J. – the pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Chapel Point, he is a Jesuit priest and an historian and earlier served as rector of the Jesuit community at Gonzaga College High School and as pastor of St. Aloysius Church in Washington.
  • Father Araia Ghebray – a chaplain at Greater Southeast Community Hospital and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, he is in residence at Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Parish in Washington. 
  • Father Raymond Moore – the pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Washington since 2007, he earlier served as the pastor of St. Joseph in Largo, St. Cecilia in St. Mary’s City, St. Peter Claver in St. Inigoes and Our Lady Queen of Peace in Washington.
  • Father Michael Moran, S.M.A. – a priest of the Society of African Missions, he serves as the administrator of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in Seat Pleasant
  • Father David Russell – retired since 2015, he earlier served as pastor of St. Anthony Parish in North Beach and Holy Name Parish in Washington.
Father Timothy Baer, the pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in Laurel who is marking his 25th anniversary as a priest in 2021, is congratulated by Cardinal Gregory at the May 18 Mass honoring the jubilarian priests. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

25th anniversaries (ordained to the priesthood in 1996)

  • Msgr. Robert Panke – the pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg since 2019, he served as the founding rector of the Saint John Paul II Seminary of the Archdiocese of Washington from 2011 to 2019 and earlier as the archdiocese’s director of priest vocations
  • Father Timothy Baer – the pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in Laurel since 2020, he earlier served as the pastor of St. Mary of Piscataway in Clinton and Our Lady of the Wayside in Chaptico.
  • Father Abayneh Gebremichael – a priest of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who serves as the pastor of Kidane-Mehret Ge’ez Rite Ethiopian Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Washington

 

At right, Father Gary Studniewski, the pastor of St. Peter’s Parish on Capitol Hill who marked his 25th anniversary in 2020, is joined at the May 18 Mass for Priest Jubilarians by Msgr. T. Ansgar Laczko at left, who marked his 60th anniversary last year. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

2020 Jubilarians

(Priests in the Archdiocese of Washington marking milestone anniversaries in 2020 were profiled last year in the Catholic Standard newspaper, and readers can see those articles on the Catholic Standard website by clicking on the highlighted names of the priests.)

60th anniversaries (ordained to the priesthood in 1960)

  • Msgr. T. Ansgar Laczko – retired since 2007, he earlier served as pastor at three Washington parishes, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Assumption and Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian.
  • Father William Goode – Father Goode died on Nov. 20, 2020 at the age of 86. He served as the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bushwood from 1976 to 1994 while also serving as principal of Holy Angels-Sacred Heart School. He then served as pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Indian Head and retired in 2007.

50th anniversaries (0rdained to the priesthood in 1970)

  • Msgr. Joseph Sadusky – retired in 2016 as judicial vicar in the archdiocesan Tribunal, he is in residence at St. Peter’s Parish on Capitol Hill. In the Tribunal, he held several posts, including adjutant judicial vicar, administrator and judicial vicar.
  • Father Robert Finamore – served as pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Fort Washington from 2000 until his retirement in 2009.
  • Father Robert Guillen – During his years in ministry, he served at several parishes in Washington and as a Catholic chaplain to Greater Southeast Hospital.
  • Father James Holloway – Since his 2004 retirement, he has served since 2006 as a hospital chaplain in Georgia, ministering to those coping with drug and alcohol addictions. Earlier, he served as a parish priest in Washington, Maryland and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Father James Meyers – After retiring in 2017, he has served at Florida parishes and hospices. Over the years, Father Meyers served as a pastor at St. Aloysius in Leonardtown, Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda and St. Raphael in Rockville.
  • Father Thomas Ulshafer, P.S.S. – now retired, the priest over the years served as the provincial superior and provincial secretary for the U.S. Province of the Society of St. Sulpice and taught and was an administrator at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. In his retirement, hehas served as an auxiliary Catholic priest at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

40th anniversaries (ordained to the priesthood in 1980)

  • Msgr. Karl Chimiak – Now serving as the Catholic chaplain at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, Msgr. Chimiak is also serving as pastor of Our Lady of the Skies Parish located on the base. Over the years, he served as pastor of St. Michael Parish in Ridge, Holy Ghost in Issue, Sacred Heart in La Plata, St. George in Valley Lee and St. Joseph Parish in Beltsville. In addition to serving as a United States Air Force chaplain, he earlier served as a Maryland State Police chaplain.
  • Msgr. John Myslinski – In recent years, he has assisted with parish ministry in his native Massachusetts, after earlier serving as a pastor at Holy Face Parish in Great Mills and St. Mary’s Parish in Rockville.
  • Father William Ryan – Since 2006, he has served as a missionary priest in Togo, West Africa, where he earlier served in the Peace Corps. During his years as a priest in Washington, he served African American and Hispanic communities at several parishes, and now he is pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Togo, where he has helped establish schools, a health clinic and has coordinated well-digging projects.

25th anniversaries (ordained to the priesthood in 1995)

  • Father Charles Green – On April 26, 2020, he died at the age of 81 after a COVID-19 diagnosis. The administrator and then pastor of Assumption Parish in Washington from 2004 until his retirement in 2008, Father Green also served over the years as a priest at St. Gabriel and St. Augustine parishes in Washington. Earlier, he served several parishes in Washington and Maryland as a deacon.
  • Father Kevin Kennedy – the pastor of St. Gabriel Parish in Washington since 2016, Father Kennedy earlier served as pastor of St. Paul’s in Damascus and St. Ambrose in Cheverly. Before entering the priesthood, he worked on Wall Street. He also teaches graduate seminar courses as an adjunct professor in Catholic University’s School of Religious Studies.
  • Father Joseph Lee – a priest of the Archdiocese of Seoul, South Korea, he has served since 2017 as the pastor of St. Andrew Kim Parish in Olney, which serves Korean Catholics in the Washington area.
  • Father Richard Mullins – After his ordination in Arlington in 1995, he served at several Virginia parishes and helped the Diocese of Arlington open its Office of Multicultural Ministries. He came to the Archdiocese of Washington in 2013 to begin a branch of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a community of priests, and he serves as the pastor of St. Thomas Apostle Parish in Washington. 
  • Father Christopher Posch, O.F.M. – A Franciscan priest, he served as the pastor of St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring from 2016 until 2020, when he died on July 5 at the age of 58 after serving his community during the COVID-19 pandemic, including distributing food to Hispanic families in Langley Park.
  • Father Peter Reynierse – In 1995, he became the first married former Episcopal priest to be ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington. Father Reynierse served as a priest at several parishes, including St. Raphael Parish in Rockville, Holy Spirit in Forestville and St. John Neumann in Gaithersburg before moving to Virginia in 2009, where he has assisted at a parish and school in Fredericksburg.
  • Father Gary Studniewski – the administrator and then pastor of St. Peter’s Parish on Capitol Hill since 2017, he served as a U.S. Army chaplain for 18 years. After leaving military service, he also served as administrator at St. Francis Xavier in Newtowne before being assigned to St. Peter’s.
  • Father Keith Woods – the Southern Maryland native has served as pastor of St. Peter’s Parish in Waldorf since 2016, after earlier serving as pastor of St. Joseph in Morganza.