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.
Christopher "Jake" Belanger
Jake Belanger is the eldest of six children in his family, consisting of five boys and one girl. His parents raised their children in a catholic home and always encouraged them in their faith through prayer, specifically the rosary, holy hours and daily Mass.
Jake attended school at St. Mary Catholic School in Lake Leelanau through the 2nd grade. He was homeschooled from 3rd grade through high school. During this period, he played sports through his parish church and learned how to serve the Mass.
After graduation from high school Jake studied and taught English for two years in France at a boarding school. It was during Christmas of 2018 that he made the choice to discontinue his education in France and return home and apply for seminary.
His vocation came through the influence of the many priests in his life that cultivated his vocation and helped and encouraged Jake to be where he is today.
Jake has completed his studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio and is currently attending Sacred Heart Major Seminary for his final four years of formation.
The first-born son of James and Dawn Feister, both parishioners of St. Ann Parish, Andrew James Feister was raised along with his three sisters in Cadillac, MI. Andrew received his sacraments from St. Ann Catholic parish and attended the parish school through the 7th grade.
When asked about his vocation, Andrew replied, “I remember my faith being catapulted into the next level after my father took me on retreat at the age of 15. I believe that was my first full realization that I could be called to something that most men don’t get to experience, that is, the life of a priest. My family has always been the driving force behind my vocation. Through their devotion to Our Lady and always wanting to dive deeper into the faith. Though it might have taken me some extra time getting to this point, Our Lord always seems to bring us back where He wants us."
In 2017-2018 Andrew was a seminarian with Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.
In 2020 he was accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Gaylord.
His home parish is St. Stephen, in Lake City, MI.
Andrew is currently studying at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
Gerald "Jerry" Przekora
Jerry is the son of Jerry Sr (deceased) and Carol Przekora. He and his twin brother Dave were raised in Highland Township, Michigan. Jerry attended Holy Spirit Parish in Highland within the Archdiocese of Detroit, where his pastor and the entire community were a huge influence on his faith life. especially in their devotion to the sacraments, in particular the Most Holy Eucharist. In this community he became a Lector and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, which along with meeting Our Lord in The Eucharist in a powerful way, cultivated a call to priesthood.
Jerry's connection to the Diocese of Gaylord runs deep, his parents owned the Cedars Resort in Central Lake for many years with another couple. He came to love the people and the whole experience of northern Michigan. His northern parish home was St. Luke in Bellaire.
After graduating from Cleary University in 2009 with a degree in business management, Jerry pursued a career. After about 5-6 years of working he unexpectedly became caregiver for his parents, particularly for his father. Although unexpected, this calling taught him how life giving it is to pour oneself out for another in service and to reflect on how in priesthood it as a caregiver of souls.
All of these experiences gave Jerry the courage to return to his northern roots, apply to the seminary, and to respond to this call placed in his heart a long time ago.
David Witkowski is a lifelong Catholic and resident of Traverse City. He graduated high school in May of 2022 from a Catholic online academy. His favorite local groups in high school were a boys choir that performed throughout the Traverse City area and an altar serving group where he learned to serve the Mass. He has a deep devotion to the Eucharist, which he believes has come from attending daily Mass when possible.
David enjoys spending time with his parents and five younger siblings, three of whom are boys and two of whom are girls. He enjoys traveling around the United States and hiking in the Smoky Mountains. David enjoys water sports, football, basketball, and especially hockey which he plays throughout the year. David has won several musical scholarships throughout high school for choir, piano, and organ, including the Musical Scholarship and the AGO (American Guild of Organist) scholarship.
Among his various jobs, David has been a church musician for the past four years. Although David is a 6th-generation Holy Rosary Parishioner, he has appreciated playing at several churches throughout the diocese for Masses, weddings and funerals.
David has always had a strong interest in the priesthood since he was a child. After attending a retreat, he felt strengthened by his calling and had several conversations with a number of priests in his life who encouraged and strengthened his desire. He applied to the diocese in the spring of 2022. He is looking forward to attending St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota in the fall.
John was raised in a devout Catholic family by parents Mike and Ann Mawby. He and his one younger sister, Mary, grew up outside of Traverse City and his home parish Holy Rosary in Cedar. John attended the Grand Traverse Area Catholic School system, and after graduating from St. Francis High School, he attended Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan Tech.
In 2023, he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in manufacturing. John shares, “During college, I realized I need to pray more and take my faith more seriously. Despite my strong faith and upbringing, I never had a personal conviction of why I was Catholic or a real sense of purpose. During a particularly hard time, my mom encouraged me to pray the Rosary in solitude. While I prayed, I strongly felt God calling me to become a priest. This was a surreal experience, but I had such confidence in this calling that, after discernment with God and my spiritual director, I am now taking the first step and attending seminary [in the fall of 2023].”
John will be attending the Pontifical College Josephinum where he will be studying pre-theology (philosophy) and completing the propaedeuical year— a special phase of formation to introduce new seminarians to the discernment process. John is looking forward to this year of prayer, studies, and getting to know his brother seminarians, particularly those in this same propaedeuical year.
As a future priest, John shared that he most looks forward to offering the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and fostering a devout love in the faithful of God and His Church.
In his free time, he loves to go hunting and fishing, playing sports, reading, completing projects around the house, and hanging out with friends and family. During the summers, he also loves to go water skiing with his dad and sister.