Early Years Laid Foundation For Priesthood – Matthew Kujawinski


Matthew J. Kujawinski is the son of Arthur and Nancy Kujawinski of Erie. He is a 1995 graduate of Cathedral Preparatory School, Erie and received a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from Gannon University, Erie, in 1999.

By Matthew Kujawinski

For the Lake Shore Visitor

It is a warm, sunny, Sunday afternoon, early in summer, mid-way through the 1980s. There is something different about this day. The streets are clean. The grass is cut. The bushes are trimmed. The flowers planted and fertilized. There are no cars in the streets. Instead, there are many people milling about.

It’s a day so unlike any other day of the year that even the curbs of the street are sparkling white. At the appointed time the bells in the church tower begin to ring in triumph and welcome. They do not welcome the Second Coming. Instead, they welcome the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on the occasion of the annual Corpus Christi procession at St. Stanislaus Church, Erie.

I am blessed to have grown up in an ethnic neighborhood where everyone knew everyone else and church was involved in every single aspect of life from birth until death. On the opportunity to look back, it’s as if my whole life has been forming me for this moment and beyond. I began serving Mass at an early age. I was constantly in church for one reason or another. I had excellent examples from the late Father Joseph Radziszewski, Msgr. Joseph Reskowski, Father James McCormick and Father Casimir Wozniak. The “ladies of the parish” constantly told me that they were praying for me and for my vocation. In school I was the “religious” one amongst my friends and classmates.In high school, Father James Bird was a profound influence in my life as well as my pastor, Msgr. Bernard Urbaniak, and Msgr. Mark Martchak, the resident priest. As the time came to enter St. Mark’s Seminary Formation Program, I was not quite sure that this was the path for me. I began to think of other opportunities in life. But, I admitted to myself that I should look into seminary. Seven years later and here I am. My parents have been very supportive and were not very surprised by this decision but met it with quiet approval. They have been very active in my seminary formation chiefly through the St. Mark’s Seminary Auxiliary as well as being present at the significant events of my formation. They also have been supportive in their advice concerning cars and finances and insurance. It is neither easy nor profitable in the eyes of the world being a seminarian, but he support of family makes it easier.

My friends were not surprised either. My close friends supported me by being my friends and keeping my mind very much aware of life outside of church framework. Classmates from grade school and high school continually check on my “progress.” At times they are as surprised that ordination is here as much as I am.

Why enter the priesthood in this era of declining vocations and increasing demands on priests? Why not? Every priest that I have come in contact with has told me that they find it so rewarding and can not imagine having a happier life. This is true coming from priests in Ridgway; Erie; Bradford; Sharon; Meadville; Pittsburgh; Harrisburg; Philadelphia; Altoona; Wheeling, W. Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Tulsa, Okla.; Youngstown, Ohio; and Columbus, Ohio. They all say that it is not easy, but it is rewarding.

In the words of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the goal of my life is to be a saint. The Second Vatican Council teaches that the priest is sanctified through ministry. I want to be a holy priest and I look to ministry to be my sanctification and the most satisfying aspect of the priesthood.Advice for someone thinking about the priesthood: Try it, you don’t know if it is for you unless you give the seminary a try.

The Rev. Mr. Matthew Kujawinski, 25, will be ordained a priest June 27 by Bishop Donald W. Trautman at St. Peter Cathedral, Erie.Father Fames Bird, parochial administrator of St. Adrian, Martyr Parish, DeLancey; St. Anthony Parish, Walston; and St. Joseph Parish, Anita, will be his ordination sponsor.

Kujawinski will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving June 28 at 5 p.m. at his home parish, St. Stanislaus, Erie. Father John-Michael Lavelle of St. Christine Parish, Youngstown, Ohio, will be homilist.Kujawinski is now completing a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Pa.

He was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Trautman June 1, 2002, at Notre Dame Church, Hermitage, his continuum, or internship, parish. The transitional diaconate is a step toward priesthood.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Gannon University, Erie. He is an alumnus of Cathedral Preparatory School and the former St. Stanislaus School, both in Erie.

He was born in Erie in 1977, the son of Arthur and Nancy Kujawinski of Erie.His interests are reading, traveling, computers and collecting Fontanini nativity pieces.

Rev. Matthew Kujawinski is Parochial Vicor at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Erie.