Vocations Team

Father Joe O’Connor, Director

Father Joe is the pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Baldwinsville. He is a native of Most Holy Rosary, Syracuse and a graduate of Bishop Ludden, Franciscan University of Steubenville, and St. Mary’s Seminary. Ordained in 2005, he began priestly ministry at St. James, Johnson City before beginning work in the Diocese of Syracuse Vocation Promotion Office. He enjoys competing in triathlons, golfing, and spending time with his family.

Talk to Fr. Joe

Father Chris Ballard

Fr. Chris is the pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church in Syracuse and was ordained a priest on June 5, 2010. Fr. Chris’ favorite part of priestly ministry is preaching and teaching, as he enjoys the opportunity to dialogue and defend the Faith. He enjoys traveling, hanging out at the lake, and spending time with his cats, Francis and Clare.

Talk to Fr. Chris

Father Chris Celentano

Fr. Chris was born and raised in Lyncourt and attended St. Daniel Church. The youngest of three children, Fr. Chris was raised by two loving and practicing Catholic parents. He attributes his love of Christ and the Catholic Church to his upbringing as well as his lifelong pastor, Msgr. Eugene Yennock. Before answering the call to the priesthood, he attended Ithaca College and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. He only spent one season working for a minor league baseball team in the South Atlantic League when the call to the priesthood grew louder. After the 2001 season he applied and was accepted to formation for the priesthood in the Diocese of Syracuse. Fr. Chris studied at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland where he earned a Master’s of Divinity. He was ordained a priest in 2008.

Talk to Fr. Chris

Father Jason Hage

Fr. Jason is the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Hamilton, Saint Joan of Arc Mission in Morrisville as well as sacramental responsibilities to the Colgate Newman Catholic Community. Fr. Jason grew up in Brockport and was a serious hockey player in high school, winning the New York State title his junior year. He attended Xavier University in Cincinnati and earned his Bachelor’s in philosophy. Upon graduation from Xavier, he entered St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, MD and earned his Master’s of Divinity as well as his Sacred Bachelor’s in Theology. Fr. Jason spent the first three years of his priestly ministry at Holy Family Church, Syracuse, where he worked intensely with the youth and young adult ministry programs. Fr. Jason was asked by Bishop Cunningham to lead programming for all college-age men discerning a vocation throughout the diocese. He called this ministry the “Fisherman’s Club”  and has been working with college-age discerners for the past three years. He loves to spend time with his parents, his three siblings, and his nephews.

Talk to Fr. Jason

Father Ken Kirkman

Fr. Ken is the parochial vicar at St. Anthony and St. Mary in Cortland. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Syracuse in June 2016. A native of Holy Cross Parish and alum of Holy Cross School in DeWitt, Fr. Ken attended Christian Brothers Academy and SUNY Oswego. His hobbies include foreign languages, literature, music, and astronomy.

Talk to Fr. Ken

Father Matt Lyons

Fr. Matt Lyons is the parochial vicar at Holy Family Church, Syracuse. He was ordained a priest in June 2017. A native of Binghamton, Fr. Matt attended Maine-Endwell High School and Binghamton University before going on to seminary at Theological College in Washington, DC.

Talk to Fr. Matt

Father Zach Miller

Fr. Zach is the administrator at Christ the King Church, Liverpool. He previously served as
parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception, Fayetteville. Originally from Vestal, Fr. Zach graduated from Vestal High School and earned a Bachelor’s from Buffalo State. He joined the Army National Guard and Vestal Volunteer Emergency Squad prior to entering the seminary at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, MD. Fr. Zach was ordained at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Syracuse in 2015. A firm believer that we must keep up our physical bodies in order so that our spiritual soul can grow, Fr. Zach can be found in the gym just about every day. He also enjoys golfing and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

Talk to Fr. Zach

Father John Manno, Director of Seminarian Formation

Fr. John is the pastor at Holy Family Church in Syracuse. A native of Fulton, he attended Immaculate Conception Church (now Holy Trinity Church). He is the youngest of ten children. After graduating from high school, Fr. John entered the St. John Neumann Seminary Residence and St. John’s University in New York City. After graduating, he attended St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, MD and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Syracuse on December 8, 2001. Fr. John has served in Utica, Mexico, DeWitt, and Syracuse. He is also the Regional Vicar for the Western Region (vicar Forane). In his spare time, Fr. John enjoys time with his family and friends and the company of his dog, Samson.


The Office of Seminarian Formation works in conjunction with the Office of Vocation Promotion and the Bishop’s Office to ensure that men studying for the priesthood in the Diocese of Syracuse are adequately equipped and formed to be faithful, holy priests.  Click here to contact the office.

Currently, the Diocese of Syracuse works with the following seminaries to form men for the priesthood:

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