He is a towering figure standing about 6'5''. He's bald and sports a chin strap beard. His spirit is infectious and his voice fills a room. And when he walks down a hall he gets a high-five from all the students that walk past him.
Father Bryan Zielenieski is the pastor at the Our Lady of Charity parish. He wants to be a role model to guide his community through the current tough times with the Buffalo Diocese.
"Im very much about being upfront, honest, and we will get through this together," Zielenieski said.
Recently, Zielenieski, who was ordained about four years ago, organized a town hall to allow his parish a chance to talk about what is going on with the Church.
"I don’t have all the answers, but what it resulted in is about 80 people coming in on a night and venting their frustration," he said.
He recognizes that something needs to change within the Church.
"It's not stagnant. We have to continue to respond to continue to change with the signs of the times, and we need to continue to challenge ourselves to be better."
He said that he wants other people to know that it's not just him who is trying to help people through all this. There are lots of priests, he said, that are doing good work all around Buffalo.
"There's a lot of great priests doing a lot of great things in this dioceses."
While there is only so much he can do, he works hard with his parish to help all its members as much as possible.
"Im their spiritual advisor. I said it before; I’m their spiritual dad."
But it's not always easy for Zielenieski. He said that sometimes he questions God's decisions.
"I tend to be one of those that argue with God, so there I am at the end of the day like 'really' 'what now'."