UP Catholic 10 27 2017 E Edition Page 13

www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD SUNDAY - OCT. 29 October 27, 2017 13 While the priest is an ordinary man, he has been called to an extraordinary message, to carry on Christ's mission, to teach Christ's truth, to shepherd God's people." Declaration on Priestly Life and Ministry. Dear Fr Chris, with prayers of gratitude, we thank our Heavenly Father for creating that man in you! Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Munising and the St. Therese Mission, AuTrain Father Christopher Gardiner Born and raised in Uganda, a country in East Africa, Father Ssozi said his family was always deeply involved with the Catholic Church. My dad was president of the pas- toral council and my mom was in the choir. I was an altar boy. Being a priest was the only thing I ever thought of being, he said. He said the Catholic Church there is, a bit the same, a bit differ- ent, from the Church in the U.S. Eighty-five percent of the people in Uganda are Christian. Of that, 45 to 55 percent are Catholic, he said. In Uganda, the Church is involved in all aspects of life: education, health care, social and economic development. The best schools are Catholic schools, Father Ssozi said. The Church really has a holistic approach to the development of human beings. He attended Alokolum National Major Seminary, an affiliate of Mak- erere University in Uganda, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. He attended Ggaba N.M. Theo- logicum seminary where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in theology and pastoral studies. He earned a post graduate degree in education, educational administration and leadership from Makerere University. Father Ssozi was ordained on July 19, 1992, in the Hoima Diocese. After his ordination, Father Ssozi served as a priest in Uganda and then as principal/head- master of St. Andrew Senior Secondary School in Hoima, and as secretary of the board of governors. He won a scholarship to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., where he earned a doctorate in educational administration in 2009. While attending EMU, he served as chap- lain of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and of a Catholic school in Ann Arbor, an intern at a Catholic high school in Ann Arbor and a weekend associate at a parish in Detroit. I never thought Id be going to the U.S., he said. My bishop walked into my office and said, You have a scholarship. Go to the U.S. During his time downstate, Father Ssozi met Father (now Msgr.) Ronald Browne. After grad- uation, Father Ssozi said, he came to Marquette to visit Father Browne. Father Browne intro- duced him to then Bishop Alexander Sample. During the visit, Father Ssozi was asked what hed like to do. I told them Id like to stay in this country, he said. He laughs that Bishop Sample did not take long to grant that wish. In Novem- ber 2011, he was appointed associate pastor at St. Peter Cathedral, Marquette. In December 2012, he began assisting at St. Joseph Parish, Ishpeming. He has been pastor at Resurrection Parish, Hancock, and St. Francis of Assisi Mis- sion, Dollar Bay since 2013. While the geographic change has been huge, Father Ssozi says not much else has changed. A priest can go anyplace and be accepted, he explained. They know you are a priest. Father Ssozi says he has loved his 25 years as a priest. He said he would like to stay in the di- ocese, but thats not really his decision to make. I really dont know where I will be. A priest doesnt have a lot of control. We are assigned. Wherever I am asked to serve, I will be willing to do that, he said. To men considering a vocation as a priest, Father Ssozi says, Its good to offer yourself to God and people. But it should be your choice. There should be no one pushing you into it. It comes with some challenges, he said. If you feel the call, its a good calling. People should en- courage them, but not drag them or push them into it. You have to be ready to take on what you are asked to do. Thats part of your choice. Father Ssozi added, Being a priest may not make sense to everyone, but if you are called, its a really good way of life. On his assignment to his Keweenaw parishes, Father Ssozi laughs, Everything is good except the winter! (Editor's note: Msgr. John Patrick has tech- nically been ordained for 50 years, but said he counts from his graduation date, not ordina- tion date. He explains, "I am from the ordina- tion Class of 1968. When I studied in Rome in the late '60s, the custom at the North American College was to ordain seminarians in the De- cember of their fourth year of Theology, before they completed their studies, thus I was or- dained Dec. 21, 1967, but from the Class of '68. I am going to celebrate my 50th in April 2018 with my American classmates from the North American College, Rome." Father Jeff Johnson, chaplain of hospitals, elder care and prison ministries in Marquette, is also celebrating his 25th jubilee, but declined an interview for this article.) JUBILEE: Two priests reach service milestones FROM PAGE 12 JOHN FEE THE U.P. CATHOLIC Father William Ssozi gives the homily during Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Mission in Dollar Bay last year. The Mass celebrated the 125th anniversary of the parish. Prayer for Priests Dear Lord, We pray that the Blessed Mother wrap her mantle around your priests and through her intercession strengthen them for their ministry. We pray that Mary will guide your priests to follow her own words, Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5). May your priests have the heart of St. Joseph, Mary's most chaste spouse. May the Blessed Mother's own pierced heart inspire them to embrace all who suffer at the foot of the cross. May your priests be holy, filled with the fire of your love seeking nothing but your greater glory and the salvation of souls. Amen.

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