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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Path to the Priesthood
Deacons Michael Sullivan, Benjamin Cieply, and Kristian Jaloway, LC, and their parents share their thoughts about the path to the Legionary priesthood.

Deacon Michael Sullivan, LC
Deacon Michael Sullivan, LC

July 2, 2008. Rome, Italy. A total of 5 American Legionaries were ordained to the diaconate this summer. Three of them were ordained this past June 29 in Rome: Deacons Michael Sullivan, Benjamin Cieply, and Kristian Jaloway.

Deacon Michael Sullivan, a self-described “hockey player at heart,” hails from Edina, Minnesota. He has been working in the General Directorate in Rome for the past several years.

Deacon Benjamin Cieply, from Columbus, Ohio, is currently finishing his bachelor’s degree in theology in Rome while also serving as an assistant to Legionary brothers who are studying philosophy.

Deacon Kristian Jaloway was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He is currently the assistant to the instructor of novices, which means he is helping in the human, apostolic and intellectual formation of the novices in Gozzano, Italy.

In the interview below, the new deacons share some of their thoughts as they prepare for their next step to the priesthood.

You are now a transitional deacon and will soon be ordained to the priesthood. What in your formation so far do you think has best
Deacon Benjamin Cieply, LC
Deacon Benjamin Cieply, LC
prepared you for this moment?

Deacon Michael Sullivan, LC: It has helped me to discover in prayer that the priesthood is a gratuitous gift of God’s love. The gospel at the ordination Mass reads: “You did not choose me. I chose you.” It follows a Psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.” It wasn’t until I went through some valleys that were not green pastures and restful waters that I realized how much I relied on the Shepherd.

What kind of a priest do you dream of being?

Deacon Benjamin Cieply, LC: I want to be a HOLY priest, faithful until the end. Ever since I was a child I have dreamed about becoming a priest. And what a great time to become a priest! A few years ago, someone asked me if I were now reconsidering my “career” in the Church due to the recent scandals. I answered that, on the contrary, the current situation in society and the Church was precisely a motivation to be a HOLY priest. I feel the calling, with God’s grace, to help restore the dignity of this extraordinary vocation.

What do you think is the essence of the Catholic priesthood?

Deacon Kristian Jaloway, LC: To be another Christ: a bridge between men and God, to be walked
Deacon Kristian Jaloway, LC
Deacon Kristian Jaloway, LC
on, gotten dirty, but to bring many people to heaven.

Aside from Christ and Our Lady, who in your life has most encouraged and helped you to reach this moment? 

Deacon Kristian Jaloway, LC: Without ever saying a word, my former pastor, who passed away last year. And then my superiors, who have had so much patience with me, have always been there to encourage and motivate, and have entrusted me with the formation of future Legionary priests.

If you could thank your parents for something precious they gave you to help you reach this moment, what would it be?

Deacon Benjamin Cieply, LC: I thank my parents because they have walked this journey with me, and therefore I have never felt alone. The parental vocation is intimately united to that of their children, and I believe a young man’s vocation to the priesthood is never separate from the specific vocation of the parents to help their son reach the priesthood. 


Did you ever think one of your sons would become a Catholic priest?

Judy Sullivan: I never thought that Michael would be a priest. Michael was a typical teenager with all the
Benjamin Cieply, LC, greeting a model of the Catholic priesthood: Pope Benedict XVI
Benjamin Cieply, LC, greeting a model of the Catholic priesthood: Pope Benedict XVI
typical teenager inclinations. There were troubled times, caring times, mischief, and moments to melt my heart. I never really considered the priesthood a possibility, but, unbeknownst to me, he did.

Roxye Cieply: When Benjamin was just 3 ½ years old, he was wearing his bright red, ankle-length “Superman” cape when we were on an outing to the grocery store. The check-out clerk was quite taken with his outfit and enthusiasm and, with a smile, she asked him if wanted to be Superman when he grew up. Benjamin stood up very straight, put his hands on his sides, looked squarely at the clerk and said in a very convincing voice “No, I’m going to be a PRIEST!”

What have you learned from the experience of having a Legionary son so far? What have been some of the greatest joys and sorrows?

Roxye Cieply: The experience of having our son in the Legion has taught me more than anything to trust in God’s plan. We prayerfully believed that Benjamin’s entering the Legion’s apostolic school at age 16 was what was best for him at the time, but we really knew very little about minor seminaries or what might be involved in the preparation for
Benjamin Cieply, LC with his parents in St Peter’s Square.
Benjamin Cieply, LC with his parents in St Peter’s Square.
a priestly vocation. And so it was truly God’s grace that we were open to His plan in our lives and He carried us through that time of “letting go” and provided peace for us as we embarked on our journey down such an unfamiliar road. Benjamin’s “yes” to God was really our “yes” too, even though we didn’t fully realize it at the time.

We soon discovered that the Legion provided a wholesome and open atmosphere where Benjamin could grow and mature in his vocation. The Legion always fostered our good judgment, involvement, and consultation from the very beginning, and we realized our vital role as parents in our prayer, protection, and support of our son’s vocation. Even though we were physically separated, we realized that we could all be united in Christ and the Eucharist. Our consolation has been to witness the joy he shows in living his vocation!

 What word of advice have you given to your son for his future priesthood?

Barb Jaloway: I have told Kristian that Jesus cannot be outdone in generosity, that he should stay very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and that the Church is a priceless gift. Even when you see sin in those in charge, just love and sacrifice more for our precious Holy Mother Church. I have also asked him to pray for us and to offer the Mass for us.

Dan Jaloway: I have told him to make sure, as best he can, that it’s his path so that once he gets ordained, that’s it; there’s no reneging after the fact. Up to the very day of ordination, he’s free to decide otherwise. And then to
Michael Sullivan, LC, in his boyhood glory days.
Michael Sullivan, LC, in his boyhood glory days.
feel very happy, safe and secure in his decision and become the best priest ever so that he obtains Heaven. I have also asked him to say a lot of Masses for me to help me get to heaven also.

Joe Cieply: Perhaps the best advice we have given is the example of our own lives. As I said, my wife and I are very active members of Regnum Christi. Ben has told us before that our example has been an inspiration for him.

Deacons Michael Sullivan, Kristian Jaloway, and Benjamin Cieply, LC, will be ordained to the priesthood on December 20 at the basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. All are welcome to attend.



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