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APRIL 2018 PRIEST OF THE MONTH - REV. COLE WEBSTER 

Father Cole Webster.jpg

Pope St. John Paul II was famous for quoting the phrase Jesus used often, “Be not afraid,” in many of his writings. Fr. Cole Webster found that quote very inspiring in his life. Those words helped him find the courage to pursue his dreams.

Cole Webster was born the only child of parents who left their Catholic upbringing to worship in protestant denominations. He was raised in Amherst and attended private Christian School. While in school he found lots of friends and became involved in youth groups, etc. His upbringing instilled in him a love of Jesus Christ. He would spend Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals with his extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles in the Catholic Church. It was those experiences of Catholicism that appealed to his sense of worship.

As he grew older, he started learning about his Polish heritage. Father Cole related, “I’m a big history buff. For Poles, church and everyday life is so linked. All of its traditions are Catholic traditions that you bring in the home and participate in.” He began asking lots of questions and after learning more about the Catholic Faith he recalled, “I felt that was where my heart was calling me. I loved the universality of the Church and the liturgy which was more of a formal ritual than what I was used to at the protestant churches.” He reasoned that the Catholic Church has been around from the time of Jesus and the apostles for about 2000 years whereas the oldest protestant denominations could only claim to have been in existence for the past 500 years or so. He felt, “If I’m going to really put my faith in something, I think the people who have been doing it the longest probably have the most wisdom.” At the age of 18 years old, Cole entered the RCIA at St. Christopher Parish in Tonawanda and joined the Catholic Church.

He graduated from Buffalo State College with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism. He worked at the former Holiday Inn on Niagara Falls Blvd. which has since been demolished, for six years. After that he spent another year and a half at the Holiday Inn Express near the Buffalo Airport as the guest service manager. Father Cole described feeling called to the priesthood even before he became Catholic.  When he would attend Mass with relatives as a young person, he was impressed by so much of what went on. He noted, “Following a ritual along with the universal church as well as the reverence all throughout with kneeling, crossing yourself before the Gospel, and other body language was something awe inspiring to me that I could picture myself doing. I was always in awe of priests even when I was a kid.”

He had goals set to finish college, build his resume and become a department head in the hotel industry. All the while, the thought of becoming a priest was in the back of his mind. Within a few years, all his goals had been reached. He recalled, “God’s funny because that all happened much quicker than I thought it would. So I had to say, ‘OK God, you got me!’ When the time is right, the time is right.” After contacting the vocation director and spending a lot of time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, he considered, “If not me, then who? God’s not knocking on everyone’s door. If he did, the seminary would be full. I’m feeling this tugging and if I say no and others who may be called say no, who is left?” After giving notice that he intended to leave his job in a month, he found out that his former hotel property had been sold and his “work family” would be disbanded. This made it a little easier to leave. Then his computer crashed and everything was lost. He knew this was a sign from God to move forward with plans to look into the seminary. “God talks to you in ways that you will understand.” Father Cole believed God was reinforcing his decision to join the seminary by clearing a pathway for him. He knew of people who felt called to the priesthood but went in another direction. They love their family but always had it in the back of their minds wondering what the priesthood would have been like. He said, “I thought I was young enough to say, if the priesthood doesn’t work out, there are always going to be hotels.”

“One day at a time!” That was his moto after starting at Christ the King Seminary in 2010. It was overwhelming to think he would be there for seven years. One day at a time, one semester at a time, and before he knew it, seven years brought him to June 3, 2017 and his ordination to the priesthood. He was assigned to SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Hamburg where he currently serves.

Father Cole loves to read, ski, rollerblade and ride his bike. He has a house in Buffalo and enjoys visiting Delaware Park when he has time off. His friends are also very important to him and he likes to join them for dinner, the movies and attending the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

He feels that as a priest he is right where God wants him to be and that makes Fr. Cole very happy. He loves meeting new people and getting involved in a variety of areas of the parish. He said, “I love my Faith and I want other people to have a similar love.” He believes he is in a unique position as a priest to share the beauty of the Catholic Faith with others through the Sacraments, sharing in discussions and teaching.

With a parish the size of SS. Peter and Paul where the pastor and other parochial vicar have been there for six years, the staff even longer and parishioners even longer than that, Fr. Cole finds himself searching for where needs may exist. He asks, “What are we not doing that we could be doing? Who do you tap into? How do you get to know other parishioners who may not be active to try to get them involved?” He feels that being the new guy trying to break in and maybe create something different or new can be challenging.

Father Cole advises those considering priesthood to… Be not afraid! He believes, “Our Lord is there with you, he walks right next to you. Put your trust in that relationship. If your heart is tugging you toward priesthood take it one day at a time.” He also points out that those who enter the seminary are not signing up right then and there for priesthood. They have time to discern if the call is growing within or if it’s something that’s not really for them. They may end up discerning that God is calling them elsewhere. He recommends, “If it’s something you feel strongly about exploring, continue to explore it.” 

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