The men pictured below are currently preparing for priestly ministry in the Diocese of Gaylord. Diocesan priests commit their lives to serving the people of a specific diocese and generally work in parishes, schools, or other ministries as assigned by the bishop of the diocese.
Preparation for the priesthood typically requires eight years of education beyond high school, usually including a college degree followed by four or more years of theology study at a seminary.
We encourage you to pray regularly for these men and that others will also discern their call to the priesthood.
Deacon Nicholas Cooper
Nick Cooper grew up on a small farm just south of Elk Rapids and is one of four boys. His home parish is Sacred Heart, Elk Rapids, where he received the sacraments of First Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation. In high school he attended World Youth Day 2000 in Rome and 2002 in Toronto, where he was awed by the presence of St. John Paul II. At that time several youth group leaders motioned to Nick to consider a vocation to the priesthood, but, he ignored them.
Nick graduated from Elk Rapids High School, Aquinas College, and Notre Dame. At the time of his mentors’ death he began to think and pray about the vocation to the priesthood, which had been stirring within him for quite some time. It was during a holy hour, and watching Fr. Bob Zuchowski preside over them, that he began to talk about the priesthood to friends and family, and made the step to apply to our beloved diocese.
Nick is studying Theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus. Nick was ordained as a Transitional Deacon on June 18, 2016, a step on his way to Priestly Ordination in May of 2017.
Deacon Bradley Nursey
Brad grew up in Georgia. He is the second oldest of four siblings, having two sisters and one brother. Brad is the only one who has moved away from Georgia. He remains in close contact to his siblings. Their mother passed away of Lou Gehrig's disease in 2004. He says family has always been extremely important to him and has a profound impact on his life.
Brad attended public schools his entire educational career. His parents always sent him and his siblings to Sunday School Classes. Brad attended the University of Georgia and obtained a degree in Journalism majoring in Telecommunications. His greatest difficulties came from mathematics. In working towards his degree, he only had to take one math class. He says, in all seriousness, it was that class that really caused a profound increase in his prayer life. Brad has had a number of jobs and has held teaching jobs in New Mexico and in Japan.
He has thought about being a priest since the second grade. As he got older it was always in the back of his mind. "Now I am as certain as I've ever been of anything that this is what I was made to do and to be. I firmly believe that as a priest I will be the man God willed me to be."
Brad is studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. Brad was ordained as a Transitional Deacon on June 18, 2016, a step on his way to Priestly Ordination in May of 2017.
Christopher Nowak is the second of six children born to Paul and Linda Nowak. The Nowak family lived in New Jersey until Chris was in the eighth grade, when his father accepted a position with the Apostolate for Family Consecration in Bloomingdale, Ohio. Chris attended high school in nearby Steubenville and often served at Mass and with his teammates from his high schools soccer team. He later became involved in the Steubenville LifeTeen program, a faith community for Catholic Teens, and served on the music ministry team.
Chris favorite academic subject is Math and he originally planned to major in it when he entered the Franciscan University in 2001. At the end of his first college semester, Chris father passed away, an event which led Chris to more deeply explore and discern how God was calling him. Chris split the next few years between his familys home and a Cistercian Monastery in New Jersey, with his friends in Ohio, and eventually joining his older brother, Paul, in Michigan. Chris relationship with his close friend and fellow seminarian Ben Rexroat helped connect him with the Diocese of Gaylord.
Chris is studying Theology at University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.
Mitchel Roman is the second child born to Lance and Dana Roman, and the brother of Merek and Mackenzie. Growing up in Empire, Michigan, Mitch attended Glen Lake Schools from Kindergarten until his high school graduation in 2007. While in school, Mitch was active in many extracurricular activities, including Student Council, National Honor Society, Young Republicans Club, and was on the tennis, basketball, cross country and track teams. Mitch and his family are members of St. Philip Neri Parish, where he and his siblings were altar servers for over 8 years.
Mitch attended Hillsdale College, where he earned a bachelors degree in Marketing Management. Following his graduation, Mitch was employed by Federal-Mogul South Bend, a global manufacturer or automotive parts, in their Human Resources department. When Mitch decided to move closer to home, he accepted a position as a business development manager at a small commercial roofing company in Traverse City, where he was employed until entering the seminary.
In his free time, Mitch enjoys spending time with his brother and sister, Merek and Mackenzie, as well as playing sports, and has competed in triathlons. Mitch credits Father Mariano Dellagiovana, his local pastor in Empire, with truly showing him what passion for Christ looks like."
Mitch began studying at Pontifical North American College in Rome in July, 2015.
Alex is the third child of Dale and Barbara Kowalkowski. His home parish is Divine Mercy in Manistee, and he is a 2012 graduate of Manistee Catholic Central. During high school, Alex played football, baseball, and was on the track team. He also participated in the Science Olympiad, medaling at a state-wide competition, served the Church as an altar server and as a member of the Diocesan Youth Council, and volunteered at his local food pantry.
Alex has also served his parish as a Eucharistic Minister, Lector, and has attended various retreats including Teens Encounter Christ (TEC), Christian Leadership Institute (CLI), and the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). Upon graduating high school, Alex attended Aquinas College for one year, studying Business Administration and communication, hoping to be an Event Planner. It was not long before Alex realized that he was being called to discern the priesthood.
Alex is studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbuis, Ohio.
Michael Lingaur, the son of Dale Sr. and Josephine Lingaur, was born and raised in Lake Leelanau. He is a third generation graduate from St. Mary Catholic School and enjoyed close friendships with his nearly 100 cousins while growing up. Upon graduating from high school, Michael earned a degree in Management and Information Systems from Northwood University, where he played football and baseball, and served as a student assistant coach for the football team.
After college, Michael was employed by a small food and automotive manufacturing supplier in Livonia, MI, prior to moving back home to the Traverse City area and working as a Computer and Data Analyst. Michael began seriously considering the priesthood not long after the death of two of his grandparents. He recalls that he felt so moved by the feeling of peace each time he witnessed his grandparents receive their final Eucharist, that he began seriously discerning his own vocational call.
Michael is currently studying Pre-Theology at Mundelein Seminary just outside of Chicago, IL.
Gavin McNeil is the oldest of four children born to Sean and Elizabeth McNeil. He was raised in Cheboygan and attended Bishop Baraga Catholic School through middle school. In high school, Gavin participated in the National Honor Society, the Cross Country team, the chess team, and spent time volunteering. When he has spare time, he likes to read, analyze animation, and write novels.
Gavin is known among his siblings and friends for his ability to make others laugh and lighten the mood, and his determination to only wear the color brown. He first felt the call to the priesthood at a St. Andrews Task Force retreat when he was in 5th grade, and attended three different colleges in his years after high school prior to being accepted to the Diocese of Gaylord’s Vocations Program.
Currently, Gavin is studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and preparing to attend his first World Youth Day this summer in Krakow, Poland.
Colin Wright has wanted to be a priest since he was 7 years old. One of six children born to Chris and Elizabeth Wright, he was raised attending Mass and parish events at St. Catherine’s in Ossineke, and counts the parish’s longtime pastor, Fr. Bob Bissott, among his biggest influences and inspirations to the priesthood.
As a child, Colin and his siblings were encouraged by their parents to assist and be present in the parish community, whether it be altar serving, participating in annual clean-ups, volunteering at funerals, or attending Eucharistic Adoration. He has also participated in diocesan events like the Christian Leadership Institute (CLI), Just Works, and the St. Andrews Task Force vocations group.
Along with his identical twin brother Connor, Colin is an active Boy Scout working on his Eagle rank, is a member of the Order of the Arrow, and has attended National Youth Leadership Training Camp. Through the Boy Scouts of America, Colin has participated in a Polar Plunge and became a certified SCUBA diver.
Growing up on 20 acres of woods and fields outside of Alpena, Colin and his siblings spent their free time climbing trees, milking cows, cleaning chicken coups, and running around. Currently, he runs Cross Country for Alpena Community College, where he has been taking general education classes. During his freshman year, Colin was named an Academic All American.
Colin is currently is in his second year of college at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio
Nicholas Hemker is the oldest of 5 and the only son born to Deacon Brent and Natalie Hemker. Growing up, Nick recalls that family devotions, daily Mass, and praying the Rosary daily as big parts of his life. He says that the first time he expressed an interest in the priesthood was when he was 3. The Hemkers lived in South Lyon until 2012, when they permanently moved in to their summer cottage in Hale, which they now happily call home.
Homeschooled from 4th-9th grades, Nick attended Tawas Area High School, graduating with a GPA of 3.78 and ranked 13th in his class. While in school, he was a member of the National Honor Society, the undefeated Knowledge Bowl team, Varsity Bowling team, and frequently volunteered in a local nursing home. In the summer months, he stays busy with three jobs, including his own lawn care business.
Nick has also been involved in his parish as an altar server, and in diocesan events such as the St. Andrews Task Force vocations group and retreats, Christian Leadership Institute (CLI), and Just Works. With his sisters, he has also assisted at various diocesan ordinations, Masses, and events.
Nick credits his former pastor, Fr. Jerry Hunko, with encouraging his understanding of a call to the priesthood. Nick is currently in his first year of college at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.