For the men, it will be a dream fulfilled. For the faithful who witness it, it will be a joyous welcome to two priests for the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Deacon David Madejski
When Deacon David Madejski is ordained to the priesthood at 11 a.m. on June 23 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, the man who inspired him to follow his vocation will be completing the process. Father Dariusz Gosciniak, longtime pastor of Holy Cross Parish in New Britain, will be vesting Father Madejski.
“I always wanted to become a priest, since I was a little kid,” Deacon Madejski said. “I was given the faith by my grandparents, who took me to church every weekend, to Sunday Mass. That’s where I met my pastor.
“I come from a very good parish, a Polish parish, very faithful, very religious,” Deacon Madejski said of Holy Cross Parish. “I always wanted to be like my pastor [Father Gosciniak] because I saw how happy he was, what a role model he was for the people. They loved him. I always said that when I grow up I want to be like that, I want to be a priest, I want to bring people to God. Father Gosciniak was the first person, the first priest that I wanted to be like.”
Deacon Madejski attended Jefferson Elementary School, Pulaski Middle School and New Britain High School, all in New Britain. He entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia at age 17. After four years, he entered St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., where he finished his theology studies in May. At 25 years of age, he will be ordained at the minimum age allowed for a man to become a priest.
The day after his ordination, Father Madejski will celebrate his first public Mass at his first parish, Holy Cross in New Britain. It seems only fitting that Father Gosciniak, who is still pastor there, will be giving the homily.
In a Youtube video, Deacon Madejski says that he felt lost growing up because, except for his grandparents, his family did not practice the faith. He was saddened by the crime and unhappiness he saw around him in his neighborhood, but he took comfort at Holy Cross Church.
He loved to look at the stained-glass windows that depicted Jesus healing the sick. “I always wanted God to heal me,” he says on the video.
Then he realized that a priest can bring God to people, and God brings joy. As a priest, he could do that for people, but was he good enough to be a priest?
“God calls people that are weak because he makes them strong. He makes them great,” he said.
He considered marriage and raising a family, but the priesthood was a stronger calling. He realized that there are two kinds of fathers: a biological father and a spiritual father. A spiritual father can reach more people, he concluded.
“I want to be a priest that is there for the people,” he says on the video. “I want to minister to the suffering, to the disregarded, to the hurting people … I want to be an instrument of God’s mercy.”
Father Gosciniak said of him, “David was always very polite and pious and very prayerful — and still is. That’s what really struck me, to see a young man, a teenager, who was never afraid to show his faithfulness. He was very proud and still is, very proud to be a Catholic who loves Jesus and loves the Catholic Church.”
Father Gosciniak said he is pleased that Deacon Madejski found him to be an inspiration, but said, “I think it was the Holy Spirit that directed him. He is very excited, a very joyful deacon, and he will be a very fine priest for the Archdiocese of Hartford.”
Deacon Joshua Wilbur
Deacon Joshua Wilbur wanted to be a music teacher and bring the joy of music to students. If he brings his musical talents with him to the priesthood, he is sure to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” as Psalm 98 sings.
Wilbur actually realized his dream after graduating from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music. He found himself in an elementary school classroom. In a third-person bio he wrote for the Archdiocese of Hartford, he said, “It had finally happened; he had his own music classroom with his own name outside the door. His work of helping children discover music didn’t feel like a job, it felt like a way of life. Everything was going perfectly, or so he thought. After a few years of teaching, deep in the back of his mind, there was something saying to him ‘this isn’t it… there’s more.’”
He remembered a roommate he had while at the University of Hartford, a Catholic who exposed this Baptist from Goshen to the Catholic faith. Josh enrolled in an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program and was confirmed at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford by Archbishop Henry J. Mansell.
While teaching music at St. Thomas the Apostle School in West Hartford, Wilbur befriended many of the priests and sisters there. “That kind of gave me a little idea in the back of my head. What is it that they do? Something about it seemed really attractive,” he said.
He entered St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., where he studied for six years, finishing in May. He has been assigned to St. Louis de Montfort Parish, formerly St. Thomas of Villanova, in Goshen. That is where he will be celebrating his first public Mass on June 24, the day after ordination.
“My best friend will be vesting me, a priest named Father Joseph Sanderson. He’s at Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington, Vermont,” he said.
“My favorite Gospel story is when Christ hears that Lazarus has died, and he was a friend of his. In the famous line, ‘Jesus wept’ (Jn 11:35), it just shows the humanity of Jesus and how he really understands everything that we go through. He experienced everything that we experience, being both human and divine,” he said.
“I want to be a parish priest,” he said. “I just want to be the merciful, compassionate presence of Christ to people in my ministry, just to help people and remind them that even when they don’t feel that God is around them that somehow God will work through me. I pray that that spirit will be open and approachable to people. The simple word for my ministry is joy. I just want to convey joy, the joy of Christ, just spread the joy of the Gospel.”
And perhaps the joy of music? Deacon Wilbur is adept at clarinet, saxophone and flute, among other instruments. He looks forward to working with parish music directors and hopes to be patient enough to “have a little restraint and let them do their thing.”
He added, “When music is done well in liturgy, it just brings the liturgy to a much higher spot. As St. Augustine said, ‘When you sing, you pray twice.’ I really hope to bring my musical talent to my ministry.”