Contact information for the parish pastoral staff

Pastor, Rev John F. Gagnier

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Bishop Matano has invited me to serve the people of Holy Cross Parish. I look forward to this opportunity to be with you as Pastor. Thanks to Father Wheeland, Father Reif and Father Ramirez and to all of you for what you have done to bring us to this point in our history. Your parish was founded as a mission in 1863 by Father John Maurice. In 1860, he had built a church on Paddy Hill, naming it Mother of Sorrows; later in 1865 he bought a tavern on Ridge Road and converted it into the first church of Saint John the Evangelist. Our Catholic Faith has a rich history in this area and it is an honor to have been a small part of it.


As many of you know, I have served in our area during my priestly career since 1978 beginning with five years as Intern and later Associate Pastor at Saint John’s in Greece, also at Holy Ghost in Gates and as your neighbor at Our Mother of Sorrows from 1998 to 2000. I was the last full-time pastor at Holy Name of Jesus from 2007 to 2013 and during that time was also the final pastor of Our Lady of Mercy.


My prior service as Pastor included Holy Cross Church in Ovid, Seneca County, also at Moravia, Scipio Center and Auburn in Cayuga County and recently in Ontario County at Shortsville, Clifton Springs and Phelps. I have been active in the Knights of Columbus on the State and Diocesan level and founded K of C Councils in Auburn and Shortsville.


As a native of Rochester, I grew up in Holy Redeemer Parish, attending its school. Several of my classmates from Aquinas and Saint John Fisher were members of our parish. As a product of Catholic education, I am also pleased that you take pride in our wonderful Catholic School.


Sincerely,

Rev. John F. Gagnier


Parochial Vicor, Rev Jorge Ramirez

Father Jorge is from Medellin, Colombia, where he started his adventure to become a priest for the glory of God and the service of the Church. In the middle and high school Minor Seminary, he started to feel God’s call to serve Him through the priesthood.


In his home parish, Nuestra Senora del Carmen, he started to have an active pastoral ministry as an altar boy, catechist of First Communion, Confirmation, RCIA, and music ministry. Through formation in the Minor Seminary and his pastoral ministry in the parish, Fr Jorge learned he was born to serve the Lord through the priesthood. 


He studied philosophical formation in the Major Seminary of Medellin, and after three years decided to leave the seminary temporarily in order to continue his License of Philosophy at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. However, when he was going back to the seminary, his mother passed away (his father died when he was 14), and he had to care for his two younger brothers. Fr Jorge was a philosophy teacher in different schools and colleges of the city, and in 2009 received an invitation from Bishop Clark through Fr. Jim Schwartz to come to the Diocese of Rochester and continue his formation for the priesthood. Becket Hall was a great experience and he was proud to finish his priestly formation at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore.


Retired Priest, Rev John T. Reif
Father Reif joined the parish staff in 1999. Born in Rochester, he grew up in the Maplewood-10th Ward area. Attendance at Sacred Heart School and Aquinas Institute preceded his years of study at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s Seminaries.

Father Reif was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1965. His assignments included three Monroe County parishes before serving as pastor at St. Rita’s in Webster through the 1980’s and 1990’s. His years in Webster included chaplainry at the Trinity Council of the Knights of Columbus. Before coming to Holy Cross and since then, he has become involved in several pro-life activities in the Rochester area.

He has enjoyed several European trips including sabbatical studies in Ireland in 2000. Closer to home he enjoys annual trips to Canada for the Shakespearian and Shaw festivals at Stratford, Ontario and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Deacon Joe Placious
For the last eight years he and his wife Natalie have been part of the Holy Name of Jesus Parish. Before that they were active at St. Andrew’s Parish. Deacon Joe was ordained a deacon from St. Andrew’s Parish and then assigned to Holy Name of Jesus.


Pastoral Administrator, Mary Jo DiNoto
Mary Jo is what many people call a “Cradle Catholic”. She was born and baptized in Syracuse, but in 1965, her parents moved to Gates and joined St. Theodore Church. She attended St. Theodore’s school and completed all her Sacraments there. She joined the Folk Group and joined their Youth Group, taught CCD, (Faith Formation) and Vacation Bible School. Very early on, she knew she enjoyed participating at church.

In 1981, Mary Jo's parents moved from Gates to Webster and quickly became parishioners at St. Rita Church where she worked as a Young Adult leader in youth ministry. When she married and moved to New Jersey in 1985, she struggled to find a church where she felt comfortable, so her church attendance was minimal. In 1990, she and her husband (at the time) separated and Mary Jo moved back to Webster to be with her family and raise her son. In 1991, she became a parishioner at St. Rita Church and joined the Contemporary Music group. She made friends at church and felt very welcomed and “home” there. In 2003 her career path came to a sudden end when I was laid off from a local bank. She applied for the Youth Minister position available at St. Rita Church. When the job was given to another person, Mary Jo became a New York State certified Teaching Assistant and worked at Willink Middle School in Webster. In the summer of 2004 the Youth Minister position at St. Rita’s opened up again and she was hired part-time. The job became full-time in July of 2005 and she continued to work as Youth Minster until 2014.

In 2009 Mary Jo received her certificate in Youth Ministry from St. Bernard School of Theology. In January 2013, when the Pastoral Associate retired, she was asked to take on some of those job functions. Thus began her education again at St. Bernard School of Theology and in May 2014, she received her certification in Pastoral Ministries.

The Pastoral Associate side of her position at St. Rita’s took most of her time, and at times Mary Jo was not able to do both jobs whole-heartily and give 100%. In 2014, a new Youth Minister was hired full time and she could concentrate on Pastoral Associate work only.

The work she's done since 2014 has prepared Mary Jo for taking the position of Pastoral Associate here at Holy Cross. The pastoral work of visiting the sick or homebound leaves her with a peaceful feeling. She feel God’s presence when planning a funeral Mass with loved ones. She sees God at work through the Prayer Line and Prayer Shawl ministries. The joy of working with couples planning their wedding or the baptism of their child is so uplifting. Mary Jo is excited to continue the good work God has begun in her at Holy Cross.


Principal of Holy Cross School, Mary Martell
Mary and her family have been parishioners at Holy Cross over 20 years. She has three sons who all attended Holy Cross School.  She has served in a variety of roles at Holy Cross including teacher, preschool director, parish minister, CYO board member, school advisory committee member, religious education teacher and Holy Cross School parent volunteer. Mary has  New York State Permanent Certification to teach Grades N-6,  an MS in Education and a BS in English Literature from Nazareth College of Rochester and is currently attending  the State University of New York at Brockport. She is excited to begin her new role as principal by leading the learning and recognizing achievement and excellence in the teachers and students, and by being the facilitator of policies and practices that will improve our school.


Tween/Teen Ministry Facilitator,
Donna Jacobi
Donna is a life-long member of Holy Cross who has worked a great deal with youth from the time her girls were involved with Brownies. Now that her children are young ladies, she continues her interest and involvement through her work in Teen Ministry. She lives her belief that it is important for adults to allow, welcome, and encourage teens to minister as we minister to them.


Religious Education Coordinator, Mary Toot

Mary and her family have been members of Holy Cross parish community for many years. She has a Master’s in Education from Nazareth College, with a background as a Catholic School teacher and a mentor in the educational system. Mary directs the Religious Education program, the Sacramental preparation for children, Vacation Bible School and the children’s program for the Time of Renewal. Mary feels very blessed to help children and families strengthen their Catholic faith and learn more about Jesus.