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Originally published June, 2016
From sports management and promotions to priesthood, Michael LaMarca's faith journey has been an interesting, inspired, and sometimes unexpected path. On Saturday, May 28, LaMarca reached his long sought-after goal of becoming ordained as a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and his mission of service is beginning anew.
Growing up in a family of faith in West Seneca, NY, and being immersed in his parish community at St. Gabriel's in Elma, LaMarca was surrounded by loving support from the beginning. His parents and two older siblings set a strong example by being involved in the Holy Name Society, the Ladies Guild, and the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).
"Helping out at parish events like St. Gabriel's fish fries and chicken barbecues was always a fun family affair," said LaMarca. "Having faith be a part of our upbringing was what my parents wanted."
LaMarca's interest in following a spiritual path and serving in his parish community continued to grow as he matured. He started as an altar server, and then followed in the footsteps of his older siblings when he became involved in the youth group. Soon after, he set a goal of becoming a lector at Mass and began doing so during his freshman year of high school. After receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, he became a Eucharistic Minister. The pinnacle of his early path was participating in the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.
After graduating from West Seneca East High School in 2005, LaMarca attended St. Bonaventure University where he studied business administration. He later transferred to Medaille College where he received a degree in sports management in 2009.
Throughout his high school and college years, he learned the value of hard work while working at Wegmans and doing maintenance work for St. Gabriel's and Our Lady of Pompeii in Lancaster. In addition, he interned as a volleyball coach for West Seneca East High School, and completed internships with the Buffalo Bandits and Buffalo Bisons—even working as Buster Bison for one summer.
"I was a big baseball fan," said LaMarca, "so when I was interning at the Bisons, I thought this is what I'm going into for the rest of my life. But during that summer, I was asked by my pastor at St. Gabriel's to take over the youth program. And I realized that while I enjoyed both, there's something more to working with the church."
In August of 2008, LaMarca began the application process to attend Christ the King Seminary and was accepted during Holy Week of 2009. His education at the seminary has provided him with extensive opportunities to learn and serve with priests, deacons, seminarians and lay people throughout the Buffalo diocese where he will soon serve as a priest, as well as providing him with life-changing experiences outside of the diocese.
Three particularly impactful experiences during his time at the seminary were:
• 2011 World Youth Day, Madrid—LaMarca served as an advisor to a youth group travelling to World Youth Day. He said, "They were so filled with faith, it helped inspire me and push me into the next stage of my seminary career."
• Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE)—LaMarca was the first seminarian from Christ the King Seminary to be accepted into the FASPE program where he travelled with seminarians from many different faiths to study the Holocaust. While reflecting on his experience, he said, "Travelling with other Christians and people of faith and having a dialogue with them helped me further understand who I am and who I will become in my ministry."
• Papal Mass, Washington, D.C.—When Pope Francis visited the U.S. in September 2015, LaMarca joined his fellow seminarians in distributing communion at the Papal Mass. "To be a diaconate at a Mass with the Pope," he said, "and to hold the host and wine as it was consecrated was a great opportunity. We were able to be a part of it because of the support of Christ the King Seminary and the people of the diocese."
After more than six years of rigorous studies, field experiences, and ministering throughout Western New York, LaMarca became ordained as a deacon on September 24, 2015; graduated from Christ the King Seminary on May 13 with a Master of Divinity degree, and was ordained as a priest on May 28.
During the ordination
ceremony, LaMarca and his fellow classmates received their assignments
where they will begin their lives as priests in the Diocese of Buffalo. Father LaMarca has been assigned as
Parochial Vicar at Saint John Paul II Parish, Lake View NY, for a term of three
years, beginning June 21. Rev. Michael K. Brown will serve as Parochial Vicar at Saint
Gabriel Parish, Elma NY, and Rev. Samuel T.
Giangreco, Jr., will be Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Victory Basilica Parish in Lackawanna NY. We congratulate and pray for Father Michael LaMarca and his classmates as they begin this new step on their faith journey.