Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone ordained four new Catholic priests Saturday morning at St. Joseph Cathedral downtown. The once-a-year ceremony was a festive day for priests before they take on the challenges of their parishes.
Peter Santandreu was one of the Buffalo's four new priests. He grew up in Hamburg and was once hoping to become a college professor. But Santandreu said he began thinking about the priesthood while studying for his master's degree in Toronto.
"You know, I talk to my friends and they'll be like, 'Oh man, I can't believe you're going to do this forever.' And I'll say, 'Yeah, of course I'm going to.' This is how life goes," Santandreu said. "When you make these choices, that kind of brings out the real meaning of one's life and one's potentiality is only realized and actualized in the full commitment of one's life life to something, whether it be a wife or a husband or the ministry."
He made the decision to enter Christ the King Seminary after spending 18 months at a mission helping the poor in Argentina.
In a WBFO News interview, Santandreu reflected on a church where there are fewer priests and not as many people attending Mass.
"We've been experiencing what we call a priestly vocation crisis for some time now, but it also goes to show that there aren't as many people coming to church anymore," Santandreu said. "Yes, the number of priests is decreasing on a quantitative scale, but will maybe grow in quality, hopefully, and have a stronger, more dedicated church that will grow in the future."
Santandreu said he's well aware of the priest abuse scandal the Buffalo diocese is dealing with. He said he and the three others joining him in the priesthood are committed to the changes the diocese is making to protect young people.
"Walking into this brotherhood we enherit all the good things tha men have done, all the great things, and some of the bad things, as well, so we do walk into this as heirs of the mistakes, but also as heirs of the great good that the Catholic priests of the Diocese of Buffalo have done," he said. "But now I think a lot of that has been changed. A lot of that has been amended for the better. And now, we, I think the four of us and myself, in particular, we're just ready to be part of the change, ready to be part of the future."
Also ordained Saturday were Deacons Peter Nsa Bassey, Paul Cygan, and Gerard Skrzynski. Bassey is a native of Nigeria. Cygan was born and raised in Olean. Skrzynski is a 54-year-old former computer and software engineer.
NOTE: Fr. Santandreu has been assigned to St. Amelia Roman Caholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda, Fr. Gerard Skrzynski to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Niagara Falls, Fr. Cygan to St. Gregory the Great Parish in Williamsville and Fr. Bassey to Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Orchard Park.