Jonathan David Kilgannon, 31 years old (Canadian Citizen)
Jonathan was born on July 26, 1984 in Varanasi, India, where his Canadian parents studied East Indian Philosophy at the Hindu University in Varanasi (His parents were always practicing Roman Catholics). Once they finished their studies, they went to live in Germany as a toddler for a short while. Eventually the family settled in Edmonton, Alberta CA. Once his Father received his Education Degree, the family moved to Edson, Alberta, where Jonathan and his two younger sisters were homeschooled by their parents. In that rural setting, the family enjoyed a different type of life, being close to Nature and to the Mountainous setting of local environment, riding horses, hiking, etc. Also, Classical musical was very important in their life as well as their Catholic Faith. When he was ready for higher studies, Jonathan went off to the University of Alberta where he earned a Bachelor of Music with Distinction degree and later on received a Doctorate in Music from the Université de Montrèal.
Jonathan has been discerning his Missionary Call for a few years, but especially became more intense when he took off for a year of travel in Europe and decided to check out the OMI’s. It is there that he was sent to be connected with the Lacombe Province and now has been cleared by their Provincial to enter our Formation Program here in Buffalo as part of the North American Region.
Henry Zayamoe, 22 years old (Myanmar citizen w/ Legal Residency in the US)
Henry, one of our vocations from the Mission Center Community here in Buffalo (Our Lady of Hope Parish), was born on August 3, 1993 in Mobye on the Southern part of Shan State, Myanmar (Burma). The population of Catholics in that part of the world is less than 1%. Due to persecution of Catholics and Christians by their socialist government, his father was threatened with imprisonment and eventually left for refugee camps in Thailand. working very hard, he was able to gain entry for his family into Thailand and soon was given permission to enter the US as a refugee.
Henry, being the oldest son, had to take the role of the man of the house in the Camps, where they lived for a period of over 5 years, finally being allowed to resettle here in Buffalo with their father. In 2015, Henry received his High School Equivalency Diploma and is currently attending Erie County College (ECC) where he was studying architecture, although religious life and priesthood have been close to his heart. Henry is also one of the leaders of the Burmese Community here in the Buffalo Area and the US Region. He is extremely active in assisting other refugee families get established here in the United States.
Lázaro Ángel Leal, 24 years old (US Citizen)
Lázaro was born on March 12, 1992 in Harlingen, TX but lived all of is life in Brownsville. He is the son of a Mexican-American couple from the Valley who were married by an OMI Priest some 27 years ago. Both parents are in the educational field and his dad is a teacher at a local Brownsville Middle School. The whole family are practicing Catholics, so Lázaro’s life has always involved him with Church activities, especially Youth Groups.
Lázaro’s big opportunity to move out on his own came when he entered Our Lady of the Lake University for his advanced studies, and received his BA in Religious Studies and Theology. It is there that he begins to relate to the OMIs, especially Fr. Dan Ziegler, OMI and Fr. Charlie Banks, OMI. He came to the “Come and See” Program in Buffalo (2013-2014) and really enjoyed his experience with the fellows here. For some reason, he lost sight of Charlie Banks afterwards but with Dan Ziegler at the school he was able to connect once more to our program. He is doing quite well in our Pre-novitiate Community is popular among all the guys, Oblates and Seminarians.
Amir Ayyobi, 29 years old (Hispanic/Persian/American -US Citizen)
Amir was born on July 29, 1986 in Houston, Texas to a Muslim father and Catholic mother, and was raised Catholic. Even with such a difference of religions, Amir had a well balanced home, particularly with the presence of his maternal grandmother who was his support all during those formative years. He felt the call to the priesthood when he was around 12 years old and it has been always part of his life. When he graduated high school, he went to study Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice yet he never quite finished the program. Instead, he went to work in that field. The calling was still there and the fact that they belonged to an Oblate Parish, he began to discern religious life. He went for a visit to our House in Chicago and that was another positive moment in his life… still, he did not enter.
He joined the Navy and served for a few years in Texas and in South Carolina. While he was there, he became part of the Chaplaincy Program in the Military Diocese and continued his efforts of discernment. As he came out, he realized that what he wanted was to be a member of a Religious Community and this is what brought him this time around. Amir is looking forward to enter our Fallon Community and fulfill his call to this lifestyle.
RETURNING MEN AT OUR MISSION CENTER THIS FALL
BISHOP FALLON RESIDENCE ~ AUGUST 8, 2016
Teko Galey Teko-Agbo, 26 years old (African Born American – US Citizen)
BORN: December 9, 1989 in Togo – West Africa
Home: Alexandria, VA, (migrated 8 years ago). Teko has 3 siblings and parents still living.
Studies: Teko attended Catholic Schools in Togo and was baptized Catholic as an older teenager. He has some college in VA and worked full time. He is a polyglot: Speaks his native Ewe and French, took 5 years of German, learned English and Spanish on his own while working in VA and is currently studying Italian and Latin. He became a Naturalized US Citizen on March 9, 2015 in Buffalo, NY. Teko will begin his third year of a 4-year degree D’Youville College here in Buffalo this fall. His major is philosophy.
Summer Experience: Teko did a three-week Mission Experience in Zambia.
Brian Patrick Bernhardt, 20 years old (German/Irish American – US Citizen)
BORN: February 9, 1996 in Normal, IL
Home: Bloomington, IL near Springfield. He has 3 older siblings and parents are both alive. His father is a doctor, son of German immigrannts during the Nazi and Communist occupation. His mother, a nurse, is a ‘Farmer’s Daughter from Illinois.
Studies: Brian studied in Catholic Schools for his first 12 years and has been always been a brilliant student and very active in his faith. He took four years of high school Spanish and is now trying to learn in our Oblate Mission Center in Buffalo. He will be entering his third year of a 4-year degree program in philosophy from D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York. His favorite topic is history.
Summer Experience: Brian worked part of this summer at the Mission Office in San Antonio, TX and did a three-week Mission Experience in Zambia.
Jerry A. Gutierrez, 33 years old
BORN: January 5, 1983
Home: Paterson, NJ. His parents brought Jerry as a small child to the US. He has 2 brothers.
Studies: Jerry has attended Catholic Schools for his first 12 years as well as some college. Still he was always active in is Salesian Parish as DRE & other important posts. Jerry is fluent in English and Spanish and a very good student. He started his third and final year for a Philosophy Degree Program at D’Youville College will be able to graduate in May 2017.
Summer Experience: Jerry did some Summer School Course work this past May-June and is currently working at MAMI and at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois.
Thomas Sebastian Machnicki, 19 years old (Polish/Canadian Citizen)
BORN: August 12, 1997 in Toronto, Ontario Canada
Home: Thomas grew up living in Toronto and Mississauga, which he currently calls home. Yet for the last few years, he spends his summers in Poland at his Grandmother’s home. His parents are both immigrants from Poland and have been able to raise Thomas and his younger sibling, Peter, to be fully bilingual and bi-cultural. Thomas is a vocation from the Oblate Assumption Province (Polish) in Canada.
Studies: He has attended Catholic Schools in Canada all of his life. On Saturdays, he would also attend “Polish School” so as to be able to learn his Polish culture better. Thus, Thomas is fluent in English and Polish languages. This past year he has been taking conversational Spanish and has been doing quite well in his new tongue. Thomas is a very bright student, has time to be very active in ministry, take walks in the hill country and be a very good Community Person. He will be starting his second year of a 4-year Philosophy Degree Program at D’Youville College and has been doing summer programs so that he might be able to graduate sooner.
Summer Experience: Thomas did some Summer School Course work this past May-June online, while living in Mississauga and Poland. He also did some work at the OMI Novitiate in Poland for his Province and currently and went on pilgrimage in prior to attending World Youth Day.