Witnesses of Christ’s Love

Three Priests, Including a CHS Alum, Are Ordained in Diocese in Rockville Centre 

Photo courtesy of DRVC’s Catholic Ministries Appeal & photographer Gregory A. Shemitz

by Dylan Long ’23

On Saturday, June 18, 2022, in the month of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Diocese of Rockville Centre celebrated the installation of three new priests.

At the Mass of Priestly Ordination at the Cathedral of St. Agnes, Bishop John Barron talked about the priests’ new role in the Diocese, remarking how they will “stand in Christ’s place and offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, Confession, and other Sacraments.” He described the new priests—Fr. Louis Cona, Fr. Christopher Heller ’13, and Fr. Stephen Rooney—as “humble penitents and compassionate confessors.” 

Fr. Cona, a native of Franklin Square and member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, attended and graduated from Georgetown University, where he studied political philosophy. At Georgetown, Cona was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council and an active member of many pro-life university activities. He helped with Georgetown’s Religious Freedom project and also worked as an intern on Capitol Hill. Cona then attended St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, and studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. 

While in Rome, Cona served as a Savi guide: giving tours of the necropolis beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, and leading visitors to see the bones of the Church’s first pope. Fr. Cona embarks on his latest journey with a sense of renewal, explaining, “I just can’t wait to be out there preaching the Gospel in a world

wounded by sin, by division; where we can be instruments of God’s mercy, of reconciliation.”

Fr. Heller, who hails from Bay Shore and grew in his faith at St. Patrick Parish, is a Chaminade alum. He attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he wrote his master’s thesis on Pope Benedict’s XVI’s teaching on the relationship between the Revelation and Ecclesial Communion. From there, he studied at St. Joseph’s Seminary where he prepared for his time as a priest.

Fr. Heller is excited about his new journey, stating, “I am filled with overwhelming gratitude to God for his goodness and faithfulness to me all these years. I’m excited and prepared to ‘pay my vows’…before family, friends, and the people of God on Long Island, and to remain faithful to him through my ministry to them.” Fr. Heller is now serving at St. Dominic’s Parish and School in Oyster Bay.

Finally, Fr. Rooney grew up in West Hempstead and attended Mass at St. Joseph’s Parish in Garden City. He graduated from Holy Trinity Diocesan High School and St. John’s University. Afterwards, he was a classmate of both Fr. Cona and Fr. Heller at St. Joseph’s Seminary.

Fr. Rooney is an avid runner who has bicycled across America to raise money for affordable housing. He has a zest for life, as one of his favorite sayings is “what a time to be alive.” Fr. Rooney mostly looks forward to “getting to know the families of the parish.” He also cannot wait to be a “full-time evangelizer.”

Fr. Rooney’s mission is to bring people to God each and every day. He currently serves at Notre Dame Parish and School in New Hyde Park.

Recently, Pope Francis gave remarks about a priest’s closeness to the people of God. He reminded priests that they must imitate the Lord’s own “closeness, compassion, and tenderness in which we act…as Good Samaritans who acknowledge the wounds of our people, their silent sufferings, and the self-denial and sacrifices made by so many fathers and mothers to support their families.”

May all the new ordained priests remember the words of the Holy Father and be reminded each and every day that they serve the people of God, who need their witness to the wonders of Jesus Christ and His Church.

May the Chaminade family support each and every one of these priests as they begin their journeys. Ad Multos Annos!