Three men preparing for ordination this month in the Diocese of Pittsburgh say they are energized and ready to serve God’s people after years of formation and study.
Joseph S. Uzar, Jr. will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, June 26, 10 a.m. at Saint Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section. Bishop David Zubik will serve as principal celebrant and homilist.
David C. Schmidt, Jr. will be ordained to the transitional diaconate on Saturday, June 12, 10 a.m. at Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen Parish, Butler. Bishop William Waltersheid will be the principal celebrant and homilist.
Jeffrey McLaughlin will be ordained to the permanent diaconate on Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. at Saint Maurice Church, Forest Hills, which is part of Saint Joseph the Worker Parish. Bishop David Zubik will serve as principal celebrant and homilist.
All three ordination Masses will be livestreamed on the diocesan YouTube channel.
Uzar, Jr., 27, said he first felt a calling to the priesthood while in elementary school, then again his sophomore year of high school. “I felt the Lord tugging on my heart again, and started to take my prayer life seriously,” he said.
The son of Diana and Joseph Uzar, Sr., Uzar grew up in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carnegie, now part of Saint Raphael Parish. He attended Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Grade School and Carlynton Junior/Senior High School, graduating in 2012.
That fall he was accepted into the priestly formation program to begin studies at Saint Paul Seminary and Duquesne University.
In August 2016, Uzar began theological studies at Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, and completed his second year in May 2018.
In Summer 2017, he participated in the seminarian program of the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
In June 2018, Uzar was assigned to Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Beaver, for his Pastoral Formation Year. His assignment also included the parishes of Saint Cecilia, Rochester; Saint Felix, Freedom; and Holy Family, New Brighton. In Fall 2019, he returned to Saint Vincent Seminary to begin his third year of theological studies.
Uzar was ordained as a transitional deacon on June 20, 2020 and assigned to the parishes of Saint Cecilia, Rochester; Saint Felix, Freedom; Holy Family, New Brighton and Saints Peter and Paul, Beaver.
In May 2021, he earned Master of Divinity from Saint Vincent Seminary.
Growing up in a merged parish, Uzar is a strong supporter of the On Mission for The Church Alive! strategic planning initiative, which is bringing together parishes and schools.
“We need to trust God, our bishop and priests,” Uzar said. “God takes us to places we might never have imagined we would go, but He is there with us and that is all that truly matters.”
Schmidt, Jr., who turns 30 on June 7, told The Pittsburgh Catholic that he really began to grow in his faith during college.
He is the son of Kimberly and David Schmidt, Sr. and his home parish Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen in Butler County. He attended Butler Catholic Elementary School before graduating from Butler Area High School in 2009.
Schmidt graduated from California University of Pennsylvania in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management. In 2014, he received a Master’s in Sports Management from Old Dominion University.
In Fall 2015, Schmidt was accepted into the priestly formation program, and completed two years of pre-theology studies at Saint Paul Seminary and Duquesne University.
He was assigned to Theological College and The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. to begin theological studies.
In Summer 2018, Schmidt participated in the seminarian program of the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
In June 2019, he began his Pastoral Year assignment at the parishes of Saint Frances Cabrini, Center; Saint John the Baptist, Monaca; Our Lady of Fatima, Hopewell; and Saint Titus, Aliquippa.
In Fall 2020, Schmidt returned to Theological College and The Catholic University of America for his third year of theological studies.
The ordination Mass to the transitional diaconate “will be extra special in my home parish,” he said. “I feel excited but I am also at peace, realizing that God’s love alone is enough.”
McLaughlin, 59, is taking the next step in a faith journey that began in his home parish of Saint Brendan in Braddock.
The son of Barbara J. McLaughlin and the late Regis J. McLaughlin, he attended grade school at St. Brendan, Saint Michael Middle School and Saint Thomas High School in Braddock, part of parishes that later merged to form Good Shepherd Parish, now part of Saint Joseph the Worker Parish.
McLaughlin enrolled at Penn State McKeesport, then transferred to the University of Pittsburgh, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Master’s in public administration.
After working in the nonprofit housing and development sector while also serving as a volunteer at the Carnegie Public Library in Braddock, McLaughlin got involved in local government. He currently is manager of New Stanton Borough in Westmoreland County.
McLaughlin was recommended by a deacon at his parish to inquire about the permanent diaconate. “At that point, I had not been too familiar with the role of deacon,” said McLaughlin. “His suggestion piqued my interest, and started to think and pray about it. I had always been active in my parish and I began to hear the Lord’s call to pursue the diaconate.”
McLaughlin’s summer ministry has included work at the Allegheny County Jail, Little Sisters of the Poor, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh.
He also has advice to men who may be interested in learning more about becoming a deacon.
“Prayer life is very important,” McLaughlin said. “God knows you best. Try to do what He wants you to do.”