(Cardinal Wilton Gregory ordained 10 new priests for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington during a Mass on June 18 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The following profiles of those men are drawn from questionnaires they filled out and information on the DC Priest website.)

Father Gerald Andrews (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

Father Gerald Andrews studied aerospace engineering in college and then entered the seminary after discerning that he had a higher calling, to help lead people to heaven as a priest. On June 18, 2022, he was among 10 men ordained as new priests of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington by Cardinal Wilton Gregory at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Father Andrews, 26, a native of Walnut Creek, California, grew up as a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Perryville, Maryland, the third oldest of seven children of John and Susan Andrews.

“My family raised my siblings and me in the faith, faithfully attending Sunday Mass and praying the rosary,” he said. “I came to love my faith and to desire to grow in it when I was part of a group of Catholic boys during middle school, where many priests, religious brothers, and other young men showed me the great value of friendship with Christ and the life of virtue.”

While he was completing his high school curriculum in homeschooling, he studied aerospace engineering at a community college and was an intern at the Army Research Lab. While a student at the University of Maryland, he worked in a research lab and helped develop a new design for a micro-scale rotorcraft drone.

From a young age, he had thought that he might be called to be a priest, but he worried that he might not be happy without a family of his own.

Writing about his vocation on the DC Priest website, Father Andrews noted, “While at the University of Maryland, I grew in my life of prayer, and formed many good friendships with people at the Catholic Student Center. I began to see how I could be fulfilled by my relationship with God, and love others in a life of celibacy. The final event that led me to enter seminary was visiting Saint John Paul II Seminary, and seeing the joy of the men there.”

Father  Andrews said that attending Mass and praying at Eucharistic Adoration at the University of Maryland prepared him to receive and embrace the call to priesthood, and after entering Saint John Paul II Seminary, he later studied at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg.

In his high school years, he acted in several of Shakespeare’s plays with his homeschool acting group. He enjoys rock climbing and other outdoor activities, and he recently began playing the Irish tin whistle.

After his ordination, Father Gerald Andrews celebrated his first Mass at St. Andrew Apostle Church in Silver Spring on Sunday June 19.

 

Father Ryan Braam (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

Father Ryan Braam’s call to the priesthood was sparked by religion classes at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown and then became clear to him as he became more active in his faith while studying at The Catholic University of America. On June 18, he was among 10 men who were ordained as new priests for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

On the DC Priest website, Father Braam reflected on the roots of his vocation.

“For me, entering seminary first started with the renewal in my faith life that came from theology classes at Ryken. Inspired by my teachers, I desired to have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” he wrote, adding, “This led me to resolve to practice my faith in an intentional way once I started college at Catholic, especially going to Mass daily and regular Confession.”

At Catholic University, Father Braam studied computer science, was an altar server for campus ministry Masses and was an editor for a student-run pro-life magazine.

“About halfway through my first semester, I had the epiphany that I had never seriously considered the priesthood my entire life. The more I seriously considered the possibility of priesthood, the more greatly the Lord gave me the desire for it. From there, I simply followed the Lord's lead, and within six months I was applying to seminary,” he said.

Father Braam’s home parish is St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Leonardtown. He is the son of Richard and Deborah Braam, and he has a younger sister, Michelle.

Before starting college, he served at a summer camp run by St. John Francis Regis Parish in Hollywood, Maryland and got to know the pastor there, Father Raymond Schmidt. A few months later, he was the first priest whom Braam talked with about his vocation. At his ordination Mass, Father Schmidt vested the new priest, who studied at Saint John Paul II Seminary and Theological College.

Reflecting on what drew him to the priesthood, Father Braam said, “Stated simply, I became convinced that being a priest was how I was meant to be close to Jesus.”

The new priest, who is 26, ran cross country and track in high school and his interests include long distance running, and also computer programming after studying computer science at Catholic University. He dabbles in writing poetry and short stories.

Father Braam celebrated his first Mass at St. Aloysius Church on June 19.

 

Father Mattia Cortigiani (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

A native of Italy, Father Mattia Cortigiani grew up in the town of Empoli near Florence.

“I was born in a classic Italian fallen-away Catholic family. I was baptized mainly out of custom,” he said.

But his life changed 15 years ago, and on June 18, he was among 10 new priests ordained for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Tracing his faith journey, the new priest, who is now 33, wrote, “My real discovery of the Church and of the faith came in 2007 when I came back to the Church thanks to the Christian initiation offered by the Neocatechumenal Way. Since then, the Way has helped me immensely to discover what faith is and to enjoy its many gifts. My grandmother was also instrumental in my journey of faith because she is the one who brought me to Church and who taught me my first prayers.”

The Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement founded in Spain and dedicated to adult and family faith formation, is active in 134 nations across five continents, with 21,300 communities in 6,270 parishes, 1,668 families in mission and with 125 diocesan missionary Redemptoris Mater seminaries. including one in Hyattsville, Maryland, where Father Cortigiani studied as a seminarian.

His involvement in that Catholic movement helped him “discover more and more God’s love for me,” he said, adding he began feeling that “I was called to love God back with my whole life.”

After participating in World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain in 2011, his pilgrimage continued in Lourdes, France, where he said he joined a night procession with sick people praying the rosary, and he asked Mary to help him find direction for his life. It was then, he said, “I felt called by the Lord. The only way I can describe it is that I felt like a hand was grasping my heart.”

His parents, Giuliano Cortigiani and Elisabetta Cuccuini, supported his decision to enter the seminary and become a priest, and they attended his ordination, as did his pastor from his home parish of San Giovanni Evangelista in Empoli, Father Vincenzo Lo Castro, who vested him at his ordination.

The next day, Father Cortigiani celebrated his first Mass on June 19 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Takoma Park, Maryland.

 

Father Carlos de Rodrigo Gutierrez (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

The Catholic faith woven deeply into the life of his family in Madrid helped guide Father Carlos de Rodrigo Gutierrez on a vocational journey from Spain to the United States, leading to his ordination as a new priest for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington on June 18.

“My parents were significant (to my vocation) because of their faith,” he said.

His parents, Jose Gabriel Rodrigo and Paloma Gutierrez de la Camara attended their son’s ordination at the National Shrine. They met in the Neocatechumenal Way as adolescents and later married, and they remained active in that Catholic movement as they raised a large family, including Father de Rodrigo Gutierrez, the third of their 10 children.

As a 10-year-old boy he first thought about being a priest, and the first person he told was his grandmother Teresa who lived in a town near Madrid. “She had a great devotion for the liturgy of the hours, the rosary and the Eucharist. She was quiet and always serving,” he said.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer engineering from Catholic universities in Spain, the future priest worked for different companies in banking. As a member of the Neocatechumenal Way, he was part of a community of other young Catholics, attended World Youth Days and went on a pilgrimage to Israel.

“I became very much involved in the sacramental life of the Church, discerning if the will of God for me was marriage or the priesthood,” he said. After attending a pilgrimage to Chicago, he felt called to the priesthood and responded, and studied at the Archdiocese of Washington’s Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Remembering his life after college, he said, “I had good jobs, money, a career and a girlfriend. Through the Church, catechists, community, the help of priests, the rosary, (and) pilgrimages, the Lord was calling me to the priesthood. In a few words, God’s love drew me towards the priesthood to announce His love to the world.”

Now 36, the fan of the Real Madrid soccer team enjoys playing that sport. “Right now, recovering from a game takes me longer than when I was 19 years old, but I still love it a lot,” he said.

Father Carlos de Rodrigo Gutierrez celebrated his first Mass on June 19 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Clinton, Maryland.

 

Father Peter Mlynarczyk (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

The Eucharist helped inspire the call to priesthood of Father Peter Mlynarczyk, and he looks forward to sharing that gift with others after his June 18 ordination as one of 10 new priests for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

“Time in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament was crucial to the deepening of my faith life. I encountered Jesus present in the Eucharist, and He gave my life purpose and direction,” he said. “I desire others to come to know Jesus in the Eucharist, too. I believe this can be done most effectively as a priest, for it is through the priest that we receive the gift of the Eucharist.”

The new priest, who is 30, grew up as a member of St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and he is one of five children of Scott and Diane Mlynarczyk.

“I was raised Catholic and belong to a family of heavy Slovenian Catholic influence,” said Father Mlynarczyk, the great-grandson of Eastern European immigrants. Two of his grandfather’s cousins are women religious – Sister Mary Ann Lostoski and Sister Ann Marie Lostoski, twin sisters who are Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God.

After falling away from the practice of his Catholic faith during college, he struggled with depression. “I encountered Jesus in the Eucharist during adoration and gave my life to him,” he said.

After becoming a seminarian for the archdiocese, Father Mlynarczyk studied at the Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington and then Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. “I have been in seminary for seven years now, and my knowledge and love of God has grown by leaps and bounds,” he said. “It  is remarkable how far He has brought me, and I look forward to where He desires to take me from here.”

His interests include bicycling, and he has completed a “century ride” of 100 miles on the Ride for Vocations. He also enjoys playing sports, skiing and following space exploration.

At his ordination, Father Mlynarczyk was vested by Msgr. Robert Panke, the pastor of his home parish and the former rector of Saint John Paul II Seminary where he studied.

Father Peter Mlynarczyk returned to St. John Neumann Church to celebrate his first Mass on June 19.

Father James Morgan (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

Serving the poor and youth as a lay missionary helped draw Father James Morgan to the priesthood, and on June 18, he was among 10 new priests ordained for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

“I experienced great joy from giving my life to Christ,” said the Baltimore native, who is 34. He added, “I have grown a lot through work with the poor and missionary work.”

From 2010-11, he served as a missionary with NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries USA, which offers youth retreats and a discipleship ministry to inspire young Catholics to deepen their love for Christ and become more active in the Church. After serving as a missionary and supervisor with NET Ministries of Canada, he was a missionary with A Simple House, which provides friendship evangelization to the poor and homeless in Southeast Washington D.C., neighborhoods. Missionaries in that Catholic program lead a simple religious life marked by daily Mass, prayer, Scripture study and ministry to the poor.

“During mission work, I felt most at peace when I was serving God and the Church,” Father Morgan said. “I had been serving the poor and doing mission work for many years, and priesthood seemed like the next logical step. Doing mission work felt like bringing others to Christ. The priesthood will allow me to bring Christ to others in a sacramental way.”

He studied at the Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Earlier, he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg.

The new priest is the son of James and Christina Morgan, and he has two sisters. He grew up attending St. Clare’s Parish in Baltimore. For awhile, he thought he was related to Padre Pio, but after speaking with relatives, he learned his great-great-uncle was Padre Pio Fiorini, another Italian Capuchin Franciscan who lived in the mid-1900s.

His interests include cooking and trying new foods. “Preparing a meal for others is a great way to get to know them and to share in their lives. To me, a big part of traveling and getting to know people is to experience their particular culinary traditions.” He added, “Liking food so much has also led me to develop an interest in exercising.”

Father James Morgan celebrated his first Mass on June 19 at at St. Joseph’s Church in Upper Marlboro.

Father Grzegorz Okulewicz (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

The faith journey of Father Grzegorz Okulewicz began at home, in a devout Catholic family in his native Poland. That journey has brought him to Washington, where on June 18 he was ordained as one of 10 new priests for the archdiocese.

The new priest, who has three brothers and two sisters, was an altar server since the age of 9 at his home parish, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Gorzów Wielkopolski, where his father and mother, Krzysztof and Malgorzata Okulewicz, sang in the choir, assisted with doing the readings at Mass and helped out at church events.

Father Okulewicz was also greatly influenced by the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement. “With the help of the Way, I have developed my relationship with God through the Word of God and the sacraments,” he said.

Also influential in his vocation has been a priest, Father Andrzej Kolodziejczyk, whom he met at the age of 13, and who became his spiritual director and friend.

After leaving his hometown for college, he said his life seemed to lose meaning and direction, but later when going on a retreat with Father Andrzej, he felt a call to priesthood.

“At the elevation of the Body of Christ, suddenly there appeared a thought in my head, ‘What would it be like to be on the other side of the altar?’ I somehow knew that this thought came from God and not from me, and I decided to follow it,” Father Okulewicz said. “My saying ‘Amen’ to that thought filled me with profound peace, joy, and above all, a sense of direction amid my existential turmoil… In this sense, God has pulled me back from the world through His gift of my vocation to the priesthood.”

As he prepared to become a priest for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, he studied at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Maryland, and at his ordination, he was vested by his priest mentor and friend, Father Andrzej.

Father Okulewicz’s interests include languages – he is fluent in Polish, English and Spanish and reads Italian and Russian. He likes traveling and has visited 10 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas. He also likes reading action and spy novels, hiking and playing the guitar.

Father Grzegorz Okulewicz celebrated his first Mass on June 19 at Annunciation Church in Washington, D.C.

Father Thomas Robertson (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

Coming home and attending Mass during his last year at college, Father Thomas Sullivan Robertson found his vocation, and on June 18, he will be among 10 new priests ordained for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Growing up, he attended Our Lady of Mercy Parish and School in Potomac and then Gonzaga College High School in Washington. Then he went to the University of Delaware to study fine arts, and instead earned a finance degree.

But then, “unexpectedly, the Lord had a different plan for me,” he said.

He first thought of being a priest when he was a 13-year-old altar server at the Easter Vigil. “I remember looking into the dark church at all of the people gathered inside and sitting in silence with their candles. I did not recognize it then, but looking back the Holy Spirit was palpable,” Father Robertson said.

In college he was detached from his faith, but he knew that he would always be welcomed back.

Then when he was a college senior and home for Thanksgiving, his mother invited him to join her at Mass.

“I agreed to go, but I did not realize that at this Mass the Lord would reveal his love and desire for me to consider a vocation to the priesthood. I left that Mass with a burning desire to be as close to the altar as I could be,” he said, adding that after that, “the only thing that would bring me peace was, and still is, being at Mass and close to the altar.”

Father Robertson became a seminarian, studying at the Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Now 30, he is the son of Paul and Karen Robertson, and he has two brothers. At Gonzaga, he spent many hours on the Anacostia River as a member of the rowing team, and now he likes to kayak or go out on a motorboat. He also enjoys skiing, carpentry and country music.

One of the priests who inspired his vocation was Father Don Worch, who was known for the care he showed to the people he served. Father Robertson said he “was an incredible example of what it means and looks like to be a parish priest.”

Two of his former pastors from Our Lady of Mercy played key roles on the weekend when he was ordained. Msgr. John Enzler, who now leads the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities, vested him at the ordination. And when Father Robertson celebrated his first Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Church on June 19, Bishop William Byrne of Springfield, Massachusetts gave the homily.

Father Kyle Vance (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

While completing his degrees in mathematics and physics at the University of Maryland at College Park, Father Kyle Vance engaged in compelling scientific research, but after his faith was deepened at the Catholic Student Center there, he ultimately entered the seminary, and on June 18, he was ordained as one of 10 new priests for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Now 28, the native of the state of California moved with his family to California, Maryland, where he grew up as a member of St. John Francis Regis Parish in Hollywood. He is the son of John and Susan Vance and has a brother and a sister. 

While a University of Maryland student, in the summer of 2014 he assisted with a project at Louisiana State University to create more precise laser lights for experiments that detect gravity waves. The next summer at Maryland, he engaged in more physics research, doing data analysis for a dark matter group.

Father Vance said even with those experiences, his life felt unfulfilled. 

“This led me to want to pursue a path where my time would be more directly and fully given to the things of God,” perhaps in the priesthood or religious life, he said.

At the university’s Catholic Student Center, he met Dominican friars who showed him the intellectual beauty of the Catholic faith, and “from there, I started to get more into prayer and the Catholic community,” he said. 

He was also inspired by the homilies and spiritual direction of Father Rob Walsh, then the chaplain at the center, who led a men’s discernment group there.

“There were struggles to let God lead at times and up and downs in the faith, but I was nevertheless becoming more steadily committed,” Father Vance said.

His vocation was also influenced by the pastor at his parish, Father Raymond Schmidt, who encouraged him in the faith when he was at home on breaks and during the summers and gave him spiritual and vocational guidance.

After attending a discernment retreat, Father Vance said that experience “challenged me to consider it (the priesthood) more, and praying between seminary and some different job options, through prayer and a mission trip, I felt most called to enter seminary.”

As a seminarian in Washington, he studied at the Saint John Paul II Seminary and then Theological College.

In his childhood, the future priest was an avid skateboarder, and now he enjoys road biking and playing basketball, soccer and the disc sport Ultimate with friends. He also likes to learn and read ancient biblical languages.

Father Kyle Vance celebrated his first Mass on June 19 at his home parish, St. John Francis Regis.

Father Alexander Wyvill (CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

Inspired by the example of priests in his life, Father Alexander Wyvill has followed that call himself, and on June 18, he was among 10 new priests ordained by Cardinal Wilton Gregory for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

“Priests spend their time doing the thing that matters most to them: helping people understand that their life matters in the light of God’s love. I have always felt a deep desire to help and care for people, in a way that does not ask for anything in return. Priests, especially in the gift of celibacy, have been examples of this sort of love for me in my life,” he said.

Among the priests who influenced him was Father Scott Woods, his spiritual director when he was a student at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Maryland.

At that school, “I began to take ownership of my faith through personal prayer and spiritual direction,” he said. “…As I deepened in prayer, I began to seriously discern God’s call in my life.”

Father Wyvill, who is now 27, grew up attending St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Leonardtown. He is the son of Anthony and Ann Wyvill, and he has a cousin who is a priest, Benedictine Father Christopher Wyvill.

At Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Alexander Wyvill majored in philosophy and German.

“My faith grew tremendously in college, thanks to an excellent campus ministry and Christ-centered friendships,” he said. “Besides falling in love with Christ, I also grew in my love of outdoorsmanship and spent many weekends camping, rock climbing and fly fishing with my friends.”

After graduating, he went to Yosemite National Park and climbed the El Capitan vertical rock formation. Then he embarked on a different kind of adventure.

Through his college years, he had felt a sense of peace about entering the seminary, and “I decided to give it an honest shot” after graduation, he said.

Becoming a seminarian for the archdiocese, he studied at the Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

“From the moment I set foot in the seminary, that peace has deepened and matured into a deep assurance of my calling to the priesthood. There was no ‘magic moment’ where I felt the call; rather, it has been a steady walk with Jesus that has left me happier than I've ever been,” he said.

His other interests include playing the piano, guitar and drums, doing calligraphy, competing in sports, brewing craft coffee and filmmaking.

After his ordination, Father Alexander Wyvill celebrated his first Mass at his home church, St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Leonardtown, on June 19.

The 10 men whom Cardinal Wilton Gregory ordained as new priests for The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington on June 18, 2022 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception posed for a group photo earlier that week while they were on retreat at the Saint John Paul II Seminary. Standing in the seminary’s chapel, in the front row, left to right are Father Gerald Andrews, Father Grzegorz Okulewicz, Father Mattia Cortigiani, Father Peter Mlynarczyk and Father Ryan Braam. In the back row, left to right, are Father James Morgan, Father Thomas Robertson, Father Carlos de Rodrigo Gutierrez, Father Kyle Vance and Father Alexander Wyvill. (Catholic Standard photo by Andrew Biraj)