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Mass is ‘very important to me’ says newly ordained priest

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Father Daniel Ulmer, prays with his family before the ordination Mass he shared with Father Chalres Johnson, Father Michael Johnson, and Father Ryan Keating at St. Joseph Cathedral. Photo by Dan Cappellazzo

Growing up in a very Catholic family that went to Mass together every Sunday, it is no surprise that Daniel Ulmer became a priest. 

“My grandparents actually had me pegged for a priest by the time I was 3,” he said.

The Perrysburg native had picked a different career by second grade. Inspired by a book on Abraham Lincoln, he wanted to become a lawyer. He followed through by getting a job as a paralegal, but quickly realized that he liked the idea of law, more than the practice of law. “That got me thinking. Do I want to get a job in a law firm? Do I want to go on to law school?” The September 2011 death of his father in a motorcycle accident made him reevaluate his goals.

Another aspect of his life that needed to be examined was his relationship with his girlfriend.

When Father Ulmer invited her to hear him sing with the St. Joseph Cathedral Choir one Sunday, she refused. Even though the girl grew up in a Catholic family, she would not step inside a church.

“That got me thinking,” Father Ulmer said. “People will do all sorts of crazy things like go skydiving, but they won’t enter into a church building.” The young lady announced that she actually went skydiving that weekend. “That was too much to be a coincidence. She did the exact same thing that I thought. That made me realize how close my relationship was with God, how special that it, and how I want to share it with others.” 

He called Father Walter Szczesny in the diocesan Vocation Office and began his journey towards the priesthood.

He has spent the last seven years in study at Christ the King Seminary. The summers were spent putting those lessons into practice at St. Mary of the Cataract and Divine Mercy in Niagara Falls. St. Jude the Apostle in North Tonawanda, Nativity of Our Lord in Orchard Park, and most recently at Queen of Heaven in West Seneca. 

“One of the things that I liked about my pastoral year was, I had a lot of opportunity to work with the youth, working with the kids in the school as well as teaching eight-grade faith formation,” he said. “It really inspired me to realize how young people really want to talk about their faith. Even those who go to public school want an outlet to talk about Christ and how to express that. That was really inspiring to me to realize how truly the faith is alive in our young people today. It’s easy to look at everything that is wrong in the world today, but the Holy Spirit really is at work.”

Now, he’s excited to get into the parish and see how he can help the needs of the people there.

“A couple of things that I am really passionate about is what I call it the Churchical Catechesis. The liturgy is very important to me, and then helping people to understand what the Mass means, like what it is and why we do these things. That is very important to us. I also think it’s important that we do more with the young adult ministry, basically people of my age group. I think we do a good job of getting people through high school and college, but then there’s this lull. I’d like to do more with that age group.”

He’s looking forward to the sacraments – celebrating Mass, hearing confession, anointing the sick, “I’m really looking forward to being able to offering those priestly functions,” he said. “Also, I love meeting new people. So, I’m really looking forward to making those relationships in the parish, beginning to know people and become a part of their lives.”

Father Ulmer will begin his role as parochial vicar at SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Hamburg, on June 21.

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