Father Slawomir Siok | St. John de LaSalle, Niagara Falls, NY
Submitted by: Valerie Rotella-Zafuto
In March, everything in NYS was closed including all churches. Fr. Siok immediately went fb live broadcasting 3 times per day most days including masses, stations of the cross and evening prayers despite being the only priest in our parish. When most of the other churches in my diocese went black, he said he would minister to the sick and courageously continued with masses. He kept the church open for anyone who wanted to come in and pray and continued Eucharistic adoration in the main church to allow for social distancing. Some lectors and altar servers continued to assist him and he was never fearful of their presence and persevered. His persistence in bringing the sacraments to his parishioners and everyone else who had access is something I will never forget and truly a bright light during a very dark time! He even allowed a few parishioners in the pews. One, who I think about often, was a young man who ended up passing away just a few months later due to a diabetic issue. It brings great comfort to know he was able to be at mass and participate in the sacraments during his last few months of life! A few months later, when our governor allowed churches to open with 30% capacity, I heard him say he will never turn anyone away from participating in the mass! AMEN! Throughout the pandemic, his holy obligations and duty to bring people the sacraments always came first!
The Diocese of Buffalo has been wrought with the abuse scandal and lack of leadership, especially since we have been without a Bishop, not to mention questionable actions by priests. During a time when many in this area have turned away from the Catholic Church, Fr. Siok provides the perfect example of a good and holy shepherd!
During a time when New York State laws were the toughest, he knew his duty was to continue bringing the sacraments to his parishioners in any way he could. He mobilized into action and made changes that gave parishioners options of participating in all the sacraments while most other churches in my area did not.
Thank you for recognizing those who deserve it most, our holy priests!
Links: Parish Website, and Facebook Page