070614 Tom Roman - NG

James Neiss/staff photographer Niagara Falls, NY - Tom Roman is a seminary student who is spending the next year at Prince of Peace in LaSalle. Roman said after two more years of study he hopes to become a priest.

A former high school wrestler from Michigan will be helping shepherd the flock at Prince of Peace parish for the next year.

Tom Roman, a student at Christ the King seminary, received the yearlong assignment as he continues his studies toward becoming a priest.

A native of Rochester, Mich., the 37-year-old has already finished two years of study. During his time at this Roman Catholic parish in LaSalle, Roman will be given the chance to learn from the Rev. Robert Hughson, Prince of Peace’s pastor.

“It’s a supervisory, kind of in-service training program,” Hughson said. The priest’s apprentice will assist during daily Mass, take part in service to the sick, help teach in religious education classes, as well as work on giving “reflections” during Mass after gospel readings.

All his duties are aimed at giving him a “well-rounded experience of parish life,” Hughson said.

Roman first started thinking about the priesthood when he was in his 20s. While working toward an English degree at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, the idea of pursuing life as a clergyman was always in the back of his mind, he said.

He waited tables for a while, and tried his hand in other religious orders before beginning his work toward becoming a diocesan priest.

Roman still helps around the house when he goes home to visit, according to his mother, Cindy.

Her son, who had inklings of becoming an astronaut upon college graduation, has found a different heavenly calling, Cindy said.

She described her son as a deep, compassionate thinker.

“When he gets into something, he’s tenacious,” she said. “It really, really means a lot to him.”

Roman views a priest's role as a servant, putting God first, people second and himself third, he said.

So far during his studies, he has spent time ministering at Buffalo General Hospital, Blessed Sacrament on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo and Our Lady of Czestochowa in North Tonawanda.

A fan of Michigan State University basketball and football, Roman said is an avid fan of watching sports. He doesn’t really play many sports anymore, but said his favorite sport to watch is college football.

“I’m an underdog guy at heart,” he said.

His studies have challenged his faith in some regard, he said. But the challenges came in a good way, helping to broaden his perspective and understanding of church teachings.

Roman said he’s pleased with where his studies for the priesthood have taken him so far. He said he’s looking forward to having the chance to walk around in Niagara Reservation State Park near the falls.

“I can’t think of a better place to be,” he said.

Tom Roman

• HOMETOWN: Harrisville, Mich.

• AGE: 37

• FAMILY: Father, Walter; Mother, Cindy; Sisters, Kelly, Katie and Colleen; Brother, Jim;

• EDUCATION: English degree from Franciscan University; student at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora

• HOBBIES: Walking, watching sports, watching movies, creative writing

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