Weekly Feature

2018-02-07 / Local News

St. Greg's deacon serves community


Donnelly Donnelly Deacon Peter Donnelly of St. Gregory the Great Parish believes becoming a deacon “isn’t something that you do, it’s something that you are.”

In 2015, Donnelly was ordained a deacon by Bishop Richard Malone at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.

He was assigned to St. Gregory the Great Parish, where he and his wife, Cathy, have been active members for 25 years.

The church serves more than 6,000 families, making it the largest parish in Buffalo.

“There’s so much to see here … all of the baptisms and weddings, it’s so much fun. I love being able to give back and serve the people I meet every day.”

Donnelly also serves as chaplain at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital next door to the parish, which is located at 200 St. Gregory Court.

“It’s wonderful and humbling at the same time because you’re working with people who are facing their own mortality. For some of them, it’s the first time they’ve ever had to think of themselves as a mortal person.”

When he first became a chaplain, he met a woman who was suffering from a long-term illness. She was in the hospital for more than nine months, and Donnelly visited her every week. He said that despite the struggles of her sickness, she always had “a spark of hope.”

“No matter how bad the day was, no matter how many times she was poked with a needle, she believed God was with her and God would get her through this. I found that absolutely amazing.”

Donnelly also teaches courses at the parish and takes part in the annual mission trip to Jamaica, where parishioners help a community of disabled adults.

Outside the church, Donnelly works as manager of a products group at ATTO Technology and previously was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

To become a deacon, Donnelly studied at Christ the King Seminary for five years and graduated with a master’s degree in pastoral ministry. He said balancing his time was difficult, but he enjoyed studying theology in a new way.

“It was so fascinating. I absolutely loved it,” said Donnelly. “As I got deeper and deeper into the [diaconal] formation process, it just became more and more a part of me.”

(Story ideas for this feature can be sent to Amherst Bee Associate Editor Keaton T. DePriest, Bee Publications, 5564 Main St., Buffalo, NY 14221 or call 204-4917.)

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