By Yadira Betances Muldoon
Father Gregory Vozzo, the new pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel, said coming to Methuen “is like returning to an old home.”
He’s familiar with the area, previously working at Sun Microsystems in Chelmsford and Burlington.
As he begins his ministry at the parish, which worships at St. Theresa Church on Plymouth Street and St. Augustine Chapel in Lawrence, he said, “I love it here; the generosity here is great. I like the fact that they share the responsibility in the community and I’m impressed by that.
“In an area served by many parishes, there’s a sense of community and cooperation that I really like and I want to help build that up. I want to help more people love this community and love Jesus,” he said of OLGC parish.
Vozzo replaces Pastor Chris Casey, who had led OLGC for 12 years and was recently reassigned to St. Matthew Church in Billerica.
Vozzo was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2010. Before coming to Methuen, he was parochial vicar, then administrator, of the Medfield/Norfolk Catholic Collaborative St. Edward the Confessor in Medfield and St. Jude in Norfolk.
Now that he’s ministering in the Merrimack Valley, he has served in every region of the archdiocese from Salem and South Boston to Braintree.
Vozzo first thought of becoming a priest in his sophomore year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was a lector and brought the gifts to the altar like his fellow students did at the college church. That year he also became involved with the Neumann Fellowship, the Catholic group at the college, serving as public relations coordinator. The group was being revamped and Vozzo designed its first website in the mid-1990s.
After attending a weekend retreat in Albany, his interest in the priesthood grew.
“There was something about experiencing God with my college friends, workshops on the faith and experiencing Mass in a new way that touched me,” he said.
Then God spoke to him in an unusual way. Vozzo found a discarded poster on the floor, promoting vocations to the priesthood. The poster had a drawing of a church by a tree and listed the qualities of a good priest such as teacher, healer, counselor and community leader.
“It asked the simple question, ‘Could that be you?’ and I thought I could be for others,” he said
Vozzo kept the poster in his dorm room while keeping “a call” in the back of his mind and to promote the priesthood for others.
“It did what it was supposed to do, inspired me. He (God) is a master of irony and knows how to put things together,” he said.
Vozzo graduated from Rensselaer in 1997 with a degree in computer and system engineering.
He first came to New England to work as a tester of computer network systems in Merrimack, N.H., when he took a liking to the area and Boston sports.
He considered the priesthood again after a college friend was ordained a priest.
“Just the fact that he was interested made me realize I should think about the priesthood too,” he said.
At the same time, Vozzo wanted more than the job he was doing and to work closely with people.
“I became convinced that the priesthood was the right path for me,” he said, adding he enjoys preaching, teaching and celebrating the sacraments.
“I like sharing my faith with others; I like walking with people on their faith journey, being able to help them and I like how God enters into our lives and changes us,” Vozzo said.
He considers St. Paul his role model in the faith as he was asked as a student at St. John Seminary to teach in parishes and his first Bible study was on the letters of St. Paul.
“The words of St. Paul keep coming into my life at particular moments – to be bold, to persevere and to trust God,” he said. “I think of his confidence in God and his struggles too.”
In addition to St. Paul, the many priests he has known serve as an example.
“I like their gentleness, their acceptance of me, their wisdom and their encouragement. I associate the voice of encouragement with God and the church most of all,” he said.
Vozzo said there are some similarities being an engineer and a priest: “We both work as a team to solve problems together and make a difference in people’s lives and we have fun doing it.”
Vozzo and his identical twin brother Paul were born in Long Island, N.Y., the youngest of six siblings – three brothers and two sisters.