Transitional deacon, Seán Fleming, assists Bishop Edward U. Kmiec during Mass at St. John Vianney Chaple, Christ the King Seminary.
Seán Paul Fleming knows he is on the right path on the road to the priesthood. He wakes up happy everyday. Rev. Mr. Fleming was ordained a transitional deacon on Nov. 4 at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora. He will be ordained to the priesthood next June.
Rev. Mr. Fleming was raised in Eden and is in his last year of seminary studies. He has also served at several parishes and in field education.
“It hasn’t been exactly what I was expecting, but in many ways it was much better than what I expected,” Rev. Mr. Fleming said. “Like anything else, there are struggles and challenges.”
Growing up with no brothers or sisters, one of the challenges Rev. Mr. Fleming faced was working and studying with other men preparing for the priesthood.
“You get to meet and know others who are on the same path with you and who are at all different stages,” he said. “That is a support not only for me but for them because we are all trying to sort out what we’re thinking and praying about.”
Rev. Mr. Fleming has served at Blessed Sacrament Parish and St. Christopher parishes, both in Tonawanda, and at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Orchard Park. He also ministered at St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Bemus Point and related parishes in Mayville, French Creek and Sherman.
“Blessed Sacrament was my first assignment and I was getting to know what parish life was about,” Rev. Mr. Fleming said. “The school was closing and it was difficult, but at the same time it was a wonderful gift to be with the parish community during that time.”
Rev. Mr. Fleming served at St. Christopher Parish from May 2009 to May 2010. With a background in music, he plays piano and serves as a cantor. One of his ministries at St. Christopher’s was the funeral choir.
“One of the great things about the program is that we have that year,” he said. “It’s like residency for a doctor. You’re not ordained but it gives you pastoral experience. You’re a lector at Mass, serve as Eucharistic minister, go to wakes, help people plan funerals, and visit people in hospitals and nursing homes. I participated in the music ministry and in youth group activities. It gives you a sense of what parish life is like in the context of the whole Church year and whole calendar year.”
The St. Christopher experience confirmed Rev. Mr. Fleming’s direction for what he wanted to do.
“I get up and I’m happy about where I am,” he said. “I’m happy about what I’m going to do during the day, even when there may be challenges.”
For his field education, Rev. Mr. Fleming served at St. Joseph University Parish and at the Franciscan Center, both in Buffalo. At St. Joseph University Parish he was involved in social justice issues.
“The good thing about field education is that you not only do ministry, but come back to the seminary and write a theological reflection,” he said. “You draw from that experience.”
Rev. Mr. Fleming will finish his studies and also continue to minister at a parish to complete his final year of formation. Through his service at the parishes and in field education, one thing has stood out for Rev. Mr. Fleming.
“Wherever you go, the people of God are great,” he said. “It’s the people who make it. That is why we’re there. We are there to serve the people of God. For me that is really important. It’s not so much where I am or what issues there are. It is more that I’m able to serve the people of God and be with them.”
Field education broadens transitional deacon's perspective
Lackawanna native looks to Father Baker on journey to priesthood