Our Spiritual Fathers at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
Reverend Thomas W. Ahearn
Our current pastor…
Reverend John J. Garkowski
Rev. John J. Garkowski is both a priest and a lawyer, and uses both of his callings to benefit our parish. It was when he was in 5th or 6th grade, in a school run by Franciscan brothers at St. Anthony of Padua in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that he began to sense his calling to the priesthood. That sense of calling only grew as his school moved to Howard Beach, Queens, and he attended school at Our Lady of Grace and then at Bishop Loughlin. Although his mother discussed with him the sacrifices he would make if he did become a priest – no marriage, no children or grandchildren – Father John recalls both of his parents as always having been very supportive of him with whatever he wanted to do in life. His father talked with him less about spiritual things than his mother did; that’s why it made such an impression on Father John, right after he was ordained, when his dad told him, “You don’t have to stay in the priesthood for us” – his father’s way of saying that, despite the Garkowskis’ deep faith in the Church, they only wanted whatever was best for him. In the end, Father John may say that he’s stayed in the priesthood because that’s what he’s wanted, but we at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church are also the beneficiaries of that decision.
Reverend Donald M. Berran
Rev. Donald M. Berran started to feel drawn to the priesthood after his father died, when Father Berran was only nine years old. He looked to the priests at his parish, St. Patrick’s in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, as both spiritual and fatherly role models. Under their guidance, he served as an altar boy, and worked in the rectory and the sacristy. His call to the priesthood continued to grow during his time at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, Brooklyn; then he attended the major seminary at Huntington. As we know, Father Berran recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood — and, although he retired from the pastorate, after spending the last ten years of his career with our church family, he continues to serve our parish as a priest, as well as St. Vincent DePaul and any other parish or Church organization that needs his help. And he says that, after all this time, he couldn’t imagine his life any other way.