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May 31, 2017

Father Michael J. Jablonski’s path to his ordination as a priest for the Diocese of Ogdensburg was not a straight,jablonski uncomplicated one.

Growing up on his family’s dairy farm in St. Johnsville, New York, young Mike was more interested in friends and fun than in his faith.

Before entering the seminary, he earned an associate’s degree in social sciences, a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in middle school education, language arts, history and reading.

He worked as a farm hand and herdsman, construction laborer, substitute teacher and car salesman.

But today, Mike Jablonski is now Father Jablonski, ready to begin his first pastoral assignment as parochial vicar for the Catholic parishes in Massena.

Bishop Terry R. LaValley ordained the new priest Saturday at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg.

Looking back
In an email interview with the North Country Catholic, Father Jablonski looked back on the growth of his vocation to the priesthood.

As a teenager, he said, “my faith was not always as strong as when I was a child. I went to Mass and received my sacraments but I was not close to the Lord. Instead I wanted to go hang around my friends and only run to God when things got tough. 

“Well, I learned that was not enough,” Father Jablonski said, “God wanted my whole attention and love.  This is what he wants from all of us.

“So, I was “hit” by God at the age of 18; feeling isolated and alone at the time, I finally asked him what he wanted me to do,” he said. “I started to go back to Mass.

“My journey began from there,” Father Jablonski said. “I was at Mass and felt drawn to be up at the altar, giving people the Lord's body and blood. 

“That drawing to the priesthood grew and grew from there,” he said. “From 1999 to 2017, wow what a journey it has been.”

First steps
I decided to explore my vocation when I was in college at Herkimer County Community College,” he said. “I was involved at the parish as a lector and Eucharistic minister, as well as visiting some of the sick.  At the time, the priests of the religious communities attracted me.  The reason was that they wore neat looking habits.”

“I found the Fathers of Mercy and entered in 2005,” he said. “The community was good. I learned a lot about myself and enriched my faith but, in the end, I found that religious life was not for me. I left the community in January, 2006.”

Father Jablonski went home to look for work. Since the family farm had been sold he earned money as a substitute teacher during the school year and then by selling cars.

When he was laid off, he decided to return to school, entering Franciscan University in Steubenville in January, 2007.

After graduating in 2009 and searching in vain for a permanent teaching position, he renewed his pursuit of the priesthood.

Coming to Ogdensburg
“In the fall of 2010, I decided to contact the Diocese of Ogdensburg and met with Father Bryan Stitt (diocesan vocation director at that time),” he said. “ I applied and entered the Pontifical College Josephinum in the fall of 2011 and graduated from there on May 13.”

Looking back on his life, Father Jablonski said that “the Lord put many priests in my life who had a great influence on the growth of my vocation.

“The priests I met were present and there for me,” he said. “I want to be the same for every person.  It can be for advice, counsel, a shoulder to cry on, joys to share or even confession.

“Presence is key for me and all the priests who I have befriended and knew were present for whatever need there was,” he said. “Be present and approachable, that is what we should all be striving for, not only as priest but all Christians. 

Welcoming people
Although Father Jablonski is a native of the Diocese of Albany, he was very attracted to the North Country Church.

“I was drawn by the welcoming nature of the people,” he said. “The beauty of the diocese and the people who have such joy.  The people take pride in their churches and places they are from.  I found that they are very similar to me and I can relate to them. 

“They have welcomed me with so much love and joy, that is the part of Christ working within their lives,” he said. “that is what attracted me to the diocese, not only the people but all the clergy as well. 
What does Father Jablonski hope for in his life as a priest? 

“I look forward to serving the people of the North Country in whatever assignment I receive, he said, “to bring the sacraments to the people of God, inside and outside the Church. 

“To be part of the New Evangelization in the Diocese of Ogdensburg,” he said. “That is what I am looking forward to.”

“With help from all of the people of the diocese,” Father Jablonski said, “I want to be the best and most faithful priest I can be.” 

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