Meet our newest ROC priests!
On Saturday, June 4, Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Rochester, ordained Dcns. Jorge Ramirez, Erick Viloria, and Justin Miller to the Sacred Priesthood. Below are their reflections as they approached ordination.
Fr. Jorge Ramirez
Fr. Ramirez has been appointed as parochial vicar, Holy Cross, Rochester.
Even though my name is Jorge, everybody has called me George since I was four years old. I am from Medellin, Colombia, and there, in Medellin, I started my adventure to become a priest for the glory of God and the service of the Church. I studied middle and high school in the Minor Seminary. There, I started to feel God’s call to serve Him through the priesthood.
In my home parish, Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Our Lady of the Mount Carmel) I started to have an active pastoral ministry as an altar boy, catechist of first communion, confirmation, RCIA, and music ministry. Through formation in the Minor Seminary and my pastoral ministry in the parish I learned I was born to serve the Lord through the priesthood.
I studied my philosophical formation in the Major Seminary of Medellin, and after three years I decided to leave the seminary temporarily in order to continue my License in Philosophy at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Pontifical Bolivariana University). However, when I was going to back to the seminary, my mother passed away (my father died when I was 14), and I had to care for my two younger brothers. I was a philosophy teacher in different schools and colleges of the city, and in 2009 I received an invitation from Bishop Clark through Fr. Jim Schwartz to come to the diocese of Rochester and continue formation for the priesthood. Becket Hall was a great experience for me, and now I am very proud to finish my priestly formation at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore.
In my prayers I always ask the Lord for the capacity to show His face to each single person who I have contact with in my daily life. The mission of the Church is my own mission. I do not have another one. Therefore, my task is to “go, make disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). This is why I am here. God took me from Colombia so that I could spread His word to the whole world, especially in the Diocese of Rochester. If you ask me what I want to do in my future ministry as a priest, I surely will answer that I want to share God’s message with love in order to make true disciples of Christ. My life should give a real testimony of life because I should always act in persona Christi.
Fr. Miller has been appointed as parochial vicar, St. Joseph and Holy Spirit, Penfield.
I grew up in Springville, NY, a small town which is south of Buffalo. In fourth grade I became an altar server. There was something about vesting for Mass and assisting in this way that spoke to my soul. At this young age I remember feeling drawn to the parish altar, and even wondered what it would be like to live my life in the Church. When I received a tip for serving my first wedding I remarked to my dad, “hey, maybe I could do this for a living!” Years later in the sacristy there was also a rather striking poster that Buffalo’s vocations office put out referencing the popular Regis Philbin “Millionaire” TV show. It read, “Priesthood: is that your Final Answer?” Seeing that poster week after week stirred my heart, though as a middle and high-schooler I tried to push such thoughts and emotions away.
College brought me to Rochester and to St. John Fisher. Through a series of events I felt God calling me back to the whole-hearted living of my faith that had brought me so much peace and joy in my childhood. In experiences of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I became transformed and it felt like my faith was becoming a veritable fire within me.
Graduation found me seriously discerning the vocation to marriage, and seeking to remain close to the Catholic friends I’d made in the area. I took a job at Paychex and made Rochester my home. Over three years my job developed into one who answered many incoming customer service calls. Week after week over hundreds of incoming calls, I found myself daydreaming about what it would be like to be a priest. Every so often during these phone calls I would even imagine myself as the priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The callers on the other end (hopefully) had no idea! While I liked my job at Paychex, the witness of two friends entering the seminary for our diocese (including Fr. Peter Mottola) made a strong impact on me. But it was after reading a 1988 book by William George Rutler, The Cure D’Ars Today: St. John Vianney that I was compelled to apply to Beckett Hall. These six years have flown by, and I am grateful to have studied at Catholic U. and for a pastoral year in Geneva.
God-willing I will be ordained a priest on June 4. Celebrating Mass with and for the People of God will be incredible. As daunting as it seems right now, I am very much looking forward to celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But no less important is becoming a member of the presbyterate, a priestly fraternity working together to serve the needs of our Church as co-workers with our bishop and all others in the Lord’s vineyard.
Fr. Viloria has been appointed as parochial vicar, St. Mary and Ss. Mary and Martha, Auburn.
I was born in Colombia in a very Catholic family from which I received the Catholic faith. I went to school and finished high school when I was 17 years old, having a strong vocational concern. However, due to my indecision and scarce financial resources, I decided to look for employment and thus, postponed my desire to serve Christ and his people.
Because of my search for employment, I found a job in a furniture factory and only stayed for a month. Later, I found a new job in a warehouse where I worked for 2 years. Those 2 years helped me to meet many people and to mature my vocational concern that continued to grow much more. Then, two years later, trusting in God’s love and in his divine providence, I decided to enter the seminary. Later, I left the seminary to continue my theological formation at the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellin, Colombia in which I received a degree in Theology. Being there and having this strong desire to serve the Lord in his Church, I met Fr. James Schwartz, who spoke to me about the Diocese of Rochester and the need for priestly vocations, that is how The Lord brought me to this beautiful diocese located in this amazing area of New York State, very far from Colombia but inhabited with so many faithful and lovely people that have shown me the love of God.
After I finished my formation at The Theological College of Washington, DC. I was ordained as a deacon last year and I was assigned to Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva where I currently serve.
I think that at this very moment of my life, reflecting on all the wonders and marvelous things that my precious Lord, Jesus Christ, has done for me, I really believe that I am ready to give my life to serve the Universal Church in this portion of the Diocese of Rochester. As I am writing these words, it comes to my heart these words from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 12 verse 15, “I will most gladly spend and be utterly spent for your sakes.” It is my will to give my life and to spend it loving the Lord and his people.
Finally as I am getting close to this wonderful event in my life, my ordination to the priesthood, I ask all of you who are reading this, to please pray for me, pray for my ministry and tell The Lord that I want to be in love with him forever.