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JUNE 2017 PRIEST OF THE MONTH - REV. SAMUEL GIANGRECO

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Father Sam Giangreco remembers thinking about becoming a priest as early as age 7.  His family experienced a physical miracle which inspired him to want to serve either as a priest. He credits the love and religious formation of his family and parish of St. Gregory the Great with providing him the graces and blessings he needed to bravely ask God what he should do with his life.

After his early consideration of the priesthood, Fr. Sam recalls that the feeling left him around the eighth grade. Social pressures pushed out his thoughts of a religious life and he was able to hide that away from his friends and from himself.  After graduating from St. Gregory the Great Elementary School, he attended Clarence High School.  He said, “I went to Mass every week but I wasn’t really on fire with my faith at all.”  He decided to go to the University at Buffalo to pursue a degree in Sociology.

During the first semester of his freshman year while dorming at UB, he felt the call to priesthood return. “I was praying in my room and was overcome with this enormous sense of love.  I remember thinking to myself that I wanted to give my whole life up for God. That’s when the idea of priesthood came back in my mind.” He thought about taking a step in that direction but found it a frightening proposition. His life had gone off in another direction and he didn’t want it to change just yet.  Much like St. Augustine, he felt called to holiness…but not right now.

Most students in their senior year of college will tell you it is a time of big decisions. The pressure is on to do something with all those years of preparation and Sam was no different. Having done his best to plan a path that didn’t include ordination to the priesthood, something was still tugging at him to reconsider.  He turned to his Catholic faith in order to get some answers and found that going to confession, attending Mass even during the week, and Eucharistic Adoration were just what he needed. He recalled, “I was begging God to please let me know what He wanted me to do with my life.  I remember kneeling in front of Jesus in the Eucharist and saying, ‘Jesus, I will do whatever you want me to do with my life, just let me know what it is and I’ll do it.’”  While he prayed those words, he experienced the same feeling he had when he prayed in his dorm room that first semester as a freshman.  He was overcome again by that enormous feeling of love only this time he lost the fear of doing something about it and he took the first steps to enter the seminary.  After contacting Fr. Walt Szczesny, the Vocation Director at the time, and discussing the details involved in becoming a seminarian, Fr. Sam said, “I didn’t need much convincing.  Jesus made the choice easy when I put all my trust in Him.”

When thinking about his May 28, 2016 ordination, Fr. Sam recalled being so happy that his family and friends could share in that special day with him.  It was such a big moment, very similar to a couple’s wedding day, and he felt blessed to have shared it with so many people who supported him throughout his time at Christ the King Seminary.  They continue to support him with their love and prayers to this day.

His first and current assignment is as a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.  He feels privileged to hear people’s confessions expressing, “It’s so humbling and a highlight of the priesthood because I get to share God’s mercy with people. I get to tell them the enormous mercy God has for even the worst sinner, and that He’s so eager to forgive them and never gets tired of forgiving no matter how many times we sin in the same exact way.”

Father Sam finds it challenging to get up and speak in front of people.  He said, “I never liked the spotlight and now I’m permanently in the spotlight because that’s part of the priesthood. It’s the most trying part for me.”  However, Fr. Sam also expressed that he loves to preach.  He explained, “I get to share the mysteries of God and His love and His mercy for everyone and how ‘on fire with love’ God is for us who are sinners.  There is always the profound hope of going to heaven as long as we trust in God’s mercy.”  He finds that, “within the most challenging part (of priesthood) is also the most life giving part.”

When he gets some time off, Fr. Sam likes to unwind and relax at his family’s home with his dog.  He also enjoys road trips to different places.

Father Sam feels that Christ the King Seminary prepared him well for what he’s doing now as a priest.  Speaking from experience he advises anyone considering priesthood (or any path in life for that matter) to, “Get close to Jesus in the Eucharist because that’s the source of life for all of us. That’s where He’s going to tell you what to do with your life. That’s Jesus Christ Himself on earth.” 

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