A father/grandfather among those ordained a Catholic priest on Father’s Day weekend

June 22, 2009

This Father’s Day weekend was extra special for Alain Colliou, 63, a father of one and a grandfather of two. On Saturday, June 20, the day before Father’s Day, he was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Washington along with six other men. (An eighth seminarian will be ordained later in the summer.)

Alain, a French native and former World Bank executive, was happily married for 34 years until his wife, Chieko, passed away five years ago. He is the father of a 37-year-old son who has two daughters. He celebrated his first Mass on Father’s Day at his former parish, Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, Md.

The new priests all worked after college and before entering the seminary. They include a multilingual journalist from Poland, an accountant, the son of Evangelical Protestant missionaries, and a former environmental lawyer who felt called to the priesthood while in law school. Two of the men, Pawel Sass and James Boccabella, will be ordained on their birthdays. They all will celebrate their first Masses on June 21. The men are among 72 who studied for the priesthood with the Archdiocese of Washington this year.

Charles Cortinovis, 31, from Danville, Pa., worked as an environmental lawyer in Washington, DC before entering Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, New Jersey. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a master’s degree in environmental science and management, both from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. He earned a law degree from George Washington University Law School. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Patrick in Rockville, Md. on June 21.

Pawel Sass, 32, is a native of Poland who came to the United States at age 25. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in theology, both from Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan in Poland. He worked as a radio reporter in Poland prior to entering Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Md. His brother is also a seminarian, studying in Holland. He loves skateboarding and is fluent in Polish, English, French, Spanish and Russian. Pawel will be ordained on his 32nd birthday.

Edward “Ted” Hegnauer, 36, from Ohio, worked as geologist for two years before entering Immaculate Conception Seminary. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and attended graduate school at the University of Maryland. It was at Maryland that he began to consider the priesthood more seriously and he credits Father Bill Byrne, then chaplain at the university, in helping with his discernment. His home parish is St. Catherine Laboure in Wheaton, Md., where he will celebrate his first Mass.

James Boccabella, 56, from Olney, Md., spent 25 years as an accountant before entering Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass. Father Thomas Kalita, pastor of Jim’s home parish – St. Peter in Olney – was very helpful to him in discerning his vocation to the priesthood, Jim said. He will be ordained on his 56th birthday.

Daniel Gallaugher, 36, is the son of Evangelical Protestant missionaries. He spent his teenage years in Spain, where his parents moved to work as missionaries, and finished high school at a boarding school in Germany. Daniel attended Methodist, Evangelical and Episcopal churches growing up and during college. He studied communications at Wheaton College in Illinois. “I had just begun to consider priesthood there when I was drawn to consider Catholicism: the two discernments then ran side-by-side,” he said. He worked as a graphic designer after college. In 2001, Daniel converted to Catholicism and he entered Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. in 2003.

Alain Colliou, 63, is a widower, father, grandfather and former World Bank executive. The French native came to the United States at age 25 to work in the Washington, DC World Bank office as an economist and spent 35 years there working his way up to a director in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia departments. His 37-year-old son and two granddaughters live in California. He was happily married for 34 years until his wife, Chieko, passed away five years ago.

Michael Briese, 52, a Washington, DC native, worked as an affordable housing specialist and an advocate for the homeless, elderly and persons with disabilities before entering Blessed John XXIII National Seminary. Michael studied theology and philosophy at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania and says he felt called to the priesthood as a young undergraduate student, but instead went to work for non-profit organizations as an employee and volunteer for many years. He was ordained a permanent deacon in 2004 and has written four books. His home parish is St. Michael the Archangel in Silver Spring, Md.

To be ordained in late summer:

Andrew Morkunas, 45, is a former Army officer from Ohio. He spent 13 years in the Army after earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Toledo in Ohio. His parents immigrated to the United States from Germany, arriving through Ellis Island in 1952. He credits the late Deacon Charles Wilson and Deacon Robert Lyons from his home parish of St. Peter’s in Waldorf, Md. with helping him to discern his vocation. He entered Blessed John XXIIII National Seminary in 2005.

The Archdiocese of Washington includes 140 parishes and 580,000 Catholics in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
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