Two diocesan priests who have served or who are currently serving in Latin America are celebrating their anniversaries of ordination this year.
Father Ron Gaesser, who currently serves in the Dominican Republic, said he knew he wanted to be a priest when as a first-grader he saw all the young priests on the altar during a children’s Mass at Rochester’s Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish.
He went on to study at St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester and was ordained June 3, 1961, by Bishop James E. Kearney. He was assistant priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rochester (1961-67); assistant priest at St. Mary, Auburn (1967-70); and also was chaplain at Auburn Community College (now Cayuga Community College). He then served as chaplain in campus ministry at Auburn Community and Eisenhower colleges (1970-73); administrator of St. Joseph, Cayuga (1973-81); pastor of St. Columba/St. Patrick parishes in Caledonia/Mumford (1981-87); and pastor at St. Catherine of Siena, Ithaca, and All Saints, Lansing, for 16 years beginning in 1987. He retired in 2003.
Father Gaesser added that he cherishes the memories of "the people whose lives I became part of and those who felt I had helped them in forming their relationship with God."
He first decided to pursue missionary work in Latin America when he visited a good friend who worked at the diocesan mission in Mexico in the 1980s, the priest explained.
Father Gaesser now works with El Portal de Belén Foundation in that same province. The not-for-profit organization provides child care and a school for children with learning disabilities.
A jubilee Mass will be held in his honor in the Dominican city of Don Juan May 21. Another Mass will be held June 12 at St. Catherine of Siena with a reception to follow at the Ithaca Country Club.
Father Edward Golden, an Elmira native, was ordained May 27, 1961, by Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence B. Casey. He then served as an assistant priest at St. Stephen, Geneva, and Blessed Sacrament, Rochester.
Following a retreat in Annapolis, Md., he served in La Paz, Bolivia (1968-74), where the diocese had a mission. He lived on the outskirts of the city among the very poorest of the people.
"It was an eye opener," he said. "It was different than anything I had seen before. It was interesting to see our country from all those miles away and what people from another country and culture thought about our capitalistic ways."
He returned to Rochester in 1974 and became director of the diocesan Spanish Apostolate. From 1976-82 he served as associate pastor and later pastor of Rochester’s St. Francis Xavier Church.
From 1982-91 Father Golden served as chaplain at Elmira Correctional Facility, then was pastor of Church of the Assumption in Fairport (1991-2001). He became parochial vicar of Rochester’s City West parishes in 2001, retiring in 2005. He is now chaplain at Cherry Ridge, which is part of the St. Ann’s Community.
"I am grateful to the people … for the privilege of sharing particular years and events of their lives," he remarked. "I am grateful to those with whom I ministered in all these assignments for their admirable example of service and support. I am grateful to Bishops Kearney, Sheen, Hogan and Clark and the Personnel Board that allowed me to serve in these assignments, most of which, beginning with the assignment to Latin America, I volunteered for."