Diocese welcomes newest priest, Father Jeffrey Donovan
The last in the Triple Crown of ordinations saw Jeffrey Donovan joining the presbyterate. in recent weeks, the diocese has seen Sebastian Aristizabal become a transitional deacon and seven men join the permanent diaconate.
Applause filled the air as Bishop Michael W. Fisher accepted the 28-year-old South Buffalo native to enter the priesthood. The June 3 Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo saw beautiful clear skies. Bishop Fisher thanked Father Donovan’s family and friends for their support of Jeffrey during his seven years of seminary study.
Dozens of priests stood at the altar to participate in the special Mass. Deacon Aristizabal called for Father Donovan to step forward early in the Mass. Father David Baker, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Buffalo, asked the bishop to ordain Father Donovan, declaring that “he has been found worthy.”
“Relying on the help of the Lord God, and of our savior Jesus Christ. We chose this our brother to the order of the priesthood,” declared Bishop Fisher, garnering a round of applause.
The bishop focused his homily on Father Donovan.
“Today you enter the priestly order and are welcomed into our presbyterate here in the diocese. These brothers are here to welcome you and to give you that support that you will need, that friendship that you will need in the years ahead. We are together. I hope, Jeffrey, that you can sense the love of Christ that is running through all of this and sense it in the hearts of everyone here and maybe those that aren’t here.
“St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, said simply, the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”
Sixty years ago, Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote “The Priest Is Not Own.” The book shows that the Catholic priest belongs to Jesus and His people. He cannot live just for himself. His very soul bears the mark of Christ’s ownership.
“A priest cannot draw the map of his own priestly existence. His life is defined by a deep relationship with God, God and the Holy Trinity, God in the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the Church which is Christ’s mystical body,” the bishop said.
“The Catholic priest then, always in an unchangeable way, finds the source of his identity in Christ the high priest. That is what it means to say that the priest is not his own. He is Christ centered, Christ related. The whole of his priestly identity in life is necessarily a striving to be what he has become in his ordination. Christ is the source of our priesthood through baptism.”
Lastly, the bishop told him, “Never let a day go by that you don’t go down on your knees and say your prayers with the Lord.”
Before offering a final blessing, Bishop Fisher asked Father Donovan to give a blessing to him.
Following the Mass, Joe and Tina Donovan, parents of the guest of honor, spoke about how proud they were of their son.
“It’s the most wonderful feeling,” said Joe Donovan. Probably the best thing I’ve witnessed and felt all my life. It was quite a celebration. I’m very proud of him.”
Father Donovan had planned to join the military like his father, but announced in his graduation video at Canisius College that he would study theology.
His mother recalled being “a little bit surprised.”
“I asked him, because he was so gung ho with the military. I said, if you did get to West Point, do you think you would have left, and he said, yes, he would have, because he always had it in the back of his mind,” she said.
His mother calls him an old soul who likes Big Band music and might try to bring back the Latin Mass. “He does his own thing. He never used to participate with the other kids, like into rap music or wearing weird jeans. He did what he wanted to do. It didn’t matter if they made fun of him or not. He danced to his own tune,” she said, describing him as “Compassionate, caring always for others.”
His father called him a “kind gentleman.”
Also in attendance was Commander Tony Deaville, senior Naval Science instructor at Western New York Maritime Charter School, a former instructor of Father Donovan.
“He was always ‘do the right thing’, always ‘follow the rules,’ and he’d get frustrated with the kids who didn’t follow the rules,” Deaville said.
Deaville likes to keep in touch with his students to see if the school is “making good kids in the world.”
And is he?
“He’s a good kid.”
Father Donovan was assigned to Family #1 in Blessed Sacrament, Andover, Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Belmont; Immaculate Conception, Wellsville; St. Brendan and St. Jude in Almond/Alfred; St. Mary, Boliver; St. Mary, Canesseraga, under Father James Hartwell.
Listen to Michael Mroziak reporting