Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 25, 2007
Ordination to priesthood fulfills long-ago dreams
I've been wanting this since 1977,' says Ukrainian deacon
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"If you are in love with somebody and you put off marriage for 12 years you may lose interest."
- Deacon Ireneus Prystajecky
He credits his devoted grandparents and parents, the priests at St. Josaphat's Cathedral and St. Basil Parish and the Catholic school system for instilling love for the Church and the priesthood in him.
He began reading Gospel literature in elementary school. In junior high he read the Bible during school breaks and was always first to arrive at religious celebrations. He loved religion classes.
The first hint about the priesthood came in 1977 when Prystajecky was in Grade 5 at the now-closed St. Bride School. "This teacher (Gloria Kleparchuk) said there is this terrible shortage of priests. I got very worried about this and then I kind of went blank for a minute and I thought, 'Gee, it's not much but I can help.'"
As time passed his interest in the priesthood only grew stronger. While attending Divine Liturgy, Prystajecky would dream of the day he would be a priest.
"In high school I had this desire of being a priest but I wasn't self confident enough to do what I wanted to do so I did what my father did and I became an electrical engineer," Prystajecky recalled.
"I put the vocation off a good 12 years. You are not supposed to do that because if you are in love with somebody and you put off marriage for 12 years you may lose interest."
He worked as an engineer for six years until 1995, when he quit to become a priest. "It was a good job but I left because I knew God wanted me out of there."
Following his resignation, he spent a couple of weeks at the Basilian monastery in Mundare. For the next two years he did volunteer work for St. John of God Christian Bookstore.
Finally in 1997 Prystajecky went to the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, B.C. for two years and in 1999 he joined the Basilian Fathers. He did his two-year novitiate in Glen Cove, N.Y., and completed his theological studies at the Basilian House of Studies in Edmonton and at Newman Theological College.
Prystajecky made his final vows with the order in April and was ordained a deacon a couple of weeks ago.
He likes living in community. "There's always somebody to talk to; there is the common prayer which lifts me up and there is a bit of a structure which I can use," he said.
Prystajecky chose the religious name Ireneus in honour of Ireneus of Lyons, an early father of the Church.
Any regrets? "Oh, maybe that I didn't go (into the priesthood) earlier," he said. "Family life and human love is something I would enjoy or would like. There is definitely a bit of a tension there but I know what I want to do and this is it."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.