On Saturday, May 27, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will ordain four men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The ordination Mass is set for 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. As they finished up their years in the seminary and preparation for the priesthood Deacons Michael Friedel, Ronnie Lorilla, Rafal Pyrchla and Wayne Stock took time to share their thoughts on their upcoming ordinations.
Deacon Michael Friedel
A native of Rosewood Heights, Deacon Michael Friedel grew up as a member of St. Kevin Parish in East Alton, which was eventually merged with St. Bernard Parish in Wood River to create Holy Angels Parish in Wood River. He is the son of Edward “Joe” and Patricia Friedel of Rosewood Heights and has one sibling, Daniel Friedel, who is just one year older.
He attended St. Kevin School, followed by Marquette Catholic High School in Alton. After graduating from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where he studied chemical engineering (majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering) he went directly into Mundelein Seminary where he spent two years studying philosophy. He then moved to Rome, where he has earned his degree, the baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Deacon Friedel, 28, has naturally been giving much thought to his upcoming ordination. “The Lord has blessed me with so much peace and joy at the prospect of being his priest,” he says. “I think there comes a point in every seminarian’s journey where he realizes that he knows almost nothing of the mystery he’s about to enter — but that only ordination and the graces that come with it can begin to unfold that mystery.
“I’ve spent six years in formation to the priesthood, but a whole new formation begins the moment that I’m ordained! I am so eager to enter into this new reality and see where the Father takes me. On the day of my ordination, I lay down my life and rise a person given over to God and conformed to the Son. I’m more excited than ever to give my ‘yes’ and cannot wait to see the fruit that God will bring from it.
“What I am most looking forward to is accompanying the people of God and helping them to see how God works here and now in our lives, through the church and his sacraments,” he says. “I pursued this vocation out of a deep sense that the Lord was calling me to share what he’s given me with others, and I look forward to preaching and teaching — and learning from my parishioners — just how active and truly gracious our Lord is!”
Deacon Friedel has asked Father Don Wolford, his pastor at Holy Angels, to vest him at his ordination. “While he’s only been my pastor for a short time, I’m beginning to think he’s more excited about my ordination than I am — and that’s saying a lot,” he says. “I’m immensely grateful for his prayers and support during these last moments of preparation, and I look forward to learning from him in my priesthood as well.”
As a newly-ordained priest, Father Friedel will celebrate his first Mass at Holy Angels Parish in Wood River on Sunday, April 28 at 3 p.m. After spending a few weeks back in the Springfield diocese, he will return to Rome, where he has been appointed to graduate studies for the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in Biblical Studies from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, with residence at the Pontifical North American College.
Deacon Ronnie Lorilla
Born and raised in a small farming community of Bagong, Sirang — which is just over 200 miles south of Manila, the capital of the Philippines — Deacon Ronnie Lorilla grew up in a large and devout Catholic family. He was the second to the last child of 13 born to his now-deceased parents, Rita Maldo and Benjamin Lorilla Sr.
Deacon Lorilla grew up in St. John the Baptist Parish, but since then another area parish has been created, which is called St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish. He says his mother was his first catechist. “She taught me my first prayers,” he says. “The desire in my heart that was planted by the Lord has been nurtured and nourished by my family. I believe that my family was the real seedbed of my vocation.”
Two others who are the greatest inspirations in his vocations are St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Pope John Paul II. Deacon Lorilla says he was deeply touched by Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Philippines in 1995.
Deacon Lorilla studied economics at the Universidad de Sta. Isabel in Naga City and graduated in 2000. He then worked as a market researcher for about five years before joining a Lay Mission group in his home country. He describes the church of the Philippines as “a church that is poor” and adds they are people who living in “crushing” poverty yet are “richly gifted with undying faith in the Lord.”
Deacon Lorilla, who is 37, originally entered the religious order of the Society of Our Mother of Peace in Missouri and began his theology studies at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. When he began to hear the call to diocesan priesthood during his third year of theology, he spoke with Father Brian Alford, director of the Office of Vocations, asking if he could possibly study for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. He was then stationed at St. Cecilia Parish in Glen Carbon with Father Al Allen for one year. He returned to the seminary in St. Louis last fall but has continued to serve in the parish on weekends.
Deacon Lorilla says Father Allen has been a “great blessing” to him and calls him a “friend and mentor.” “… He is a real pastor to his flock; a true shepherd to his sheep,” he says, adding that’s why he has asked Father Allen to vest him at his ordination to the priesthood.
As a newly-ordained priest, Father Lorilla will celebrate two Masses of Thanksgiving: at St. Cecilia Church in Glen Carbon on Saturday, May 27 at 4:30 p.m.; and on Sunday, May 28 at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Collinsville at 10:30 a.m. Beginning July 1, he will be parochial vicar of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Effingham and of Annunciation Parish in Shumway.
Deacon Rafal Pyrchla
Deacon Rafal Pyrchla was born 31 years ago in Pilzno, Poland. He grew up in the small town which is about 60 miles from Krakow, with his three brothers: Damian, Bartholomew and Charles. Deacon Pyrchla lost his father when he was just 8 years old, and his mother, Zofia, raised him to adulthood.
He says he was brought up in a “traditional Catholic family” and was active in the church as an altar boy and later as a lector. He decided to go into the seminary after high school. He entered Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Krakow, where he studied English. “During my time in the seminary in Poland I decided to come to the United States because I wanted to work as a priest for the American church,” he says.
He arrived in the United States in August 2013 and went to Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich., where he continued to study English and looked for a diocese in which he “could work in the future.” He heard Vocations Director Father Brian Alford speak and decided to visit the Springfield diocese, which is now his home.
Deacon Pyrchla has continued to study English and completed his courses in theology to earn the master’s degree required for ordination to the priesthood, before spending the last year doing pastoral work as a deacon.
He now has some words of wisdom for those who are discerning the priesthood. “I would like to encourage young men to always listen very carefully to the voice of God in their hearts and always be open for God’s plan in their life,” he advises. “Be brave and never give up!”
Deacon Pyrchla has asked Father Charles Edwards to vest him at his ordination. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Paul Parish in Highland on Saturday, May 27 at 5 p.m. On July 1, he will begin as a parochial vicar of Our Saviour Parish in Jacksonville, St. Fidelis Parish in Arenzville, St. Alexius Parish in Beardstown and St. Luke Parish in Virginia.
Deacon Wayne Stock, who recently turned 26, is the youngest of the men set to be ordained to the diocesan priesthood this year. He is the son of Daniel and Ann Stock and has two married sisters (Andrea Daut and Kimberly Lichtenfels) and a niece and nephew (Amelia and Benjamin Daut) who are 2 years old.
Deacon Stock began discovering his vocation early — in 2008 while he was still in high school and on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Additionally as young member of Mother of Dolors Parish in Vandalia, he took part in Catholic Leadership Institute, Diocesan Youth Days and Timothy Retreats.
He attended Kaskaskia Community College in Centralia for a year before applying for the seminary. He began studying at Marian University and began formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary. He then went on to study at Mundelein Seminary where he has just completed his fourth year of theology.
“I am very excited to be ordained a priest of our diocese and am excited to begin this new chapter in my life dedicated to serving God and serving the people of our diocese,” he says. “I most look forward to getting to know my parishioners and accompanying them on their faith journeys.”
Now that he is about to be ordained himself, he is thinking about what he will tell others about a religious vocation. “The advice that I would give to a man considering religious life would be to stay close to the Lord in prayer and be open to whatever desire the Lord is putting in their heart,” he says.
Deacon Stock has asked Father John Titus to vest him at his ordination. “I asked him to vest me because he was instrumental in my decision to enter the seminary in the first place,” he says. “He always encouraged me throughout my discernment and has modeled for me what it means to be a happy and holy priest.”
The newly-ordained Father Stock will celebrate his first Mass on Sunday, May 28 at 3:30 p.m. at his home parish of Mother of Dolors in Vandalia. Beginning July 1, he will begin his appointment as parochial vicar of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield and as chaplain of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School.