Ogdensburg native ordained as Catholic priest

Bishop Terry R. LaValley lays hands and prays over Rev. Matthew Conger at his ordination Saturday at St. Mary’s Church, Ogdensburg. Provided photo

OGDENSBURG — A city native recently ordained as a Catholic priest will soon be heading to Watertown to become the parochial vicar at three parishes.

The Rev. Matthew S. Conger, the son of Steve and Patty Conger, Ogdensburg, was ordained Saturday by Bishop Terry R. LaValley at St. Mary’s Church. His first assignment will be in Watertown beginning June 16 as the parochial vicar of three parishes — Holy Family, St. Patrick’s and St. Anthony’s churches.

Father Conger graduated from Ogdensburg Free Academy in 2011. It was at OFA where he first heard the calling of the priesthood.

“I first considered the priesthood in about 10th grade. I always wanted to do something with service in my life and so I thought I might as well give this a try,” he said.

Growing up a parishioner of Notre Dame Church, Father Conger said that he was inspired by its former pastor, the Rev. F. James Shurtleff, who was active in the parish community as well as the community of Ogdensburg.

“It was his willingness to go out and service whenever anybody needed something that truly inspired me. It was also the joy that he showed doing this type of ministry that I knew there must be something special about the priesthood,” he said.

He first went to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa., where he received a bachelor’s degree and then enrolled at Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio, for two years. Father Conger then moved to Christ the King Seminary, Buffalo, where he received his master’s degree in divinity. The last year of schooling in Buffalo, he was ordained a deacon, a requirement to join the priesthood.

“To be ordained was such an exciting time in my life after nine years of schooling. Everything that you have been working towards has finally come to fulfillment,” Rev. Conger said.

After being ordained by Bishop LaValley, Father Conger the next day was able to hold his first Mass at Notre Dame Church, a place where he was baptized and spent a lot of time with his parents.

“It was very exciting but also very humbling for me for the first time. I was able to say Mass to bring Christ to the people. I was also very nervous, it was now on me to make sure that everything was being done right and that I didn’t screw up too much,” Father Conger joked. “It was nice to have my brother priests gather there to help celebrate this time with me.”

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