Local News Archive
Print Issue: July 17, 2002
Two Newly Ordained Priests To Serve In Conyers, Kennesaw
By Erika Anderson, Staff Writer
ATLANTA - Though they took separate and unique paths, Father John Shramko and Father Joseph Peek arrived at their destination together.
On June 22, amid friends and family, Archbishop John F. Donoghue ordained the two men as priests for the Archdiocese of Atlanta at the Cathedral of Christ the King.
Joseph Peek Sr. watched with pride as the eldest of his three sons was ordained to the priesthood. Another son, Father Kevin Peek, was ordained in 1998 and is the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Decatur.
"My heart today is so full, I cannot express what's in it," Peek said. "Genetically (our sons) are ours, but they are awesomely God's."
In that same vein, in his homily the archbishop thanked the men for responding to their vocational call and said that the life of a priest requires the surrender of self.
"And this call, to the priesthood, requires an answer of total giving, of total sacrifice, and an acceptance of the fact, that if a priest lives the life Christ wants, then little by little, he will die to himself, that Christ may live through him, and be brought daily, more fully and more effectively into the lives of those he serves," he said. "This is a gift, not equal to, but nevertheless, molded in the same form as the gift of our Lord."
Archbishop Donoghue went on to explain to the men the importance of the counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience.
"Before I lay hands upon you, and pass to you that power which comes through a single and unbroken line of bishops, directly from the hands of our Lord Himself, hands held out to His Apostles at the Last Supper, let me remind you, assisted by the words heard today from the Letter to the Hebrews, of the three counsels which will help you to live the Priestly life, and to protect the gift God has given you, from all harm, from all impurity and from all error," he said.
Following the homily, the archbishop ordained the men by laying his hands upon them. Each of the nearly 50 concelebrating priests then did the same. The new priests concelebrated the Eucharist for the first time, and later, as they processed out of the church, were applauded by their fellow priests.
At a reception afterward, Father Shramko and Father Peek offered first blessings to their family members and friends who gathered to share in the celebration.
Peek is confident his son, Joseph, 36, will be a good priest, much like his son, Kevin.
"He will be graceful, like Kevin, and discerning. He will use the gift that he received," he said.
Father Peek was co-sponsored by the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Archdiocese of Atlanta. While serving his first years as a priest in Atlanta, he is a candidate for the U.S. Navy Reserves preparing for a military chaplaincy career. He was also recently diagnosed with chronic leukemia, but is responding well to treatment.
Father Peek's mother, Mary, said she has always prayed daily for her children's holiness.
"People thank me, but I don't see that. You're called by God," she said. "You just have to keep praying to hear your call."
In addition to her two sons in the priesthood, one of her daughters is a Carmelite nun. She believes that one of her son Joseph's greatest gifts is the ability to listen.
"He is really good at listening. He doesn't want to speed past you to get everything done," she said. "He is able to listen and get past what people are actually saying to what they feel. He has a deep understanding, almost like a psychologist."
Father Peek will serve his first assignment as a parochial vicar at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Kennesaw.
Father Shramko's mother, Sue, admits she was surprised when her son, who holds two engineering degrees, told her he wanted to be a priest, but she is overjoyed at the happiness he has found in his calling.
"I'm very happy that he has found what he is called to do," she said.
She said her 33-year-old son will add an enthusiasm to the priesthood.
"He is an outgoing, compassionate and fun-loving person," she said. "He is a real people person."
Father Shramko's father, Bernard, believes that his son's faith has been an "evolution." He, too, is proud of his son and grateful for the peace that he has found in pursuing his vocation.
"You can tell he's happy, just by looking at him," he said. "You can see the smile on his face."
"I think he'll be a good priest because he cares for people and he really has the desire and the fortitude to do the right thing."
Father Shramko's first assignment will be as a parochial vicar at St. Pius X Church in Conyers.