Even as a youngster growing up in Buffalo, Fr. Paul thought he wanted to be a priest. He said, "As a boy at St. Teresa's we had some wonderful priests including Msgr. Leo Toomey who was known as the Bishop of South Buffalo and Father Leo McCarthy who was a new assistant there. I'm sure that these priests and the Sisters of Mercy had something to do with my vocation, as did my family. My father was very devout and he had a brother who was studying for the priesthood. While I never knew him, I knew his story. The "other" Paul Seil left the seminary to fight in WWII and he died in France on August 15, 1944 -- 11 years before I was born. I have the rosary he carried with him through his military service."
Before setting out on his journey to the priesthood, Fr. Paul worked as a radio announcer for a station in Niagara Falls, and as a civil servant in the Dept. of Human Resources for the city of Buffalo. A St. Bonaventure graduate, Fr. Paul even ran for the Buffalo School Board in 1983. It was at this time that he decided to re-examine his life. He then turned to Christ the King Seminary to pursue his vocation and was ordained in 1989.
Having found his calling, Fr. Paul could focus on what he discribed as the highest goal of priesthood, "To be a pastor and walk in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd." His experience in the field of Communications would come in handy, as he soon connected with Daybreak TV Productions, and began a relationship that has lasted about 15 years. "If the messages goes unspoken and unheard, we are not living up to the commission of Jesus Christ," he said. As host of Our Daily Bread and Food For Thought, Fr. Paul finds a way to reach people with integrity and honesty.
Besides his work in Communications, Fr. Paul was also Director of the Office of Worship. He was a delegate to the annual meetings of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, which is an arm of the USCCB Committee on the liturgy. In spring of 2006 Fr. Paul received the "St. John Bosco Award" from the department of Catholic Education for support to "catechetical ministry in the parish and in the larger diocesan community." Also in 2006 he received the "Father Nelson Baker Award" for service to youth.
As a kid, Fr. Paul was interested in the few cooking shows that were on TV. Shows like "Meet the Millers" and "The Galloping Gourmet" fascinated him. "My father was a city firefighter...so he had lots of specialties. He actually made the best banana nut bread I ever had. Most of what he learned was from experimenting, trying new things." Similar to his dad, Fr. Paul likes to "wing it", usually measuring amounts by sight. If you have seen him on TV, you know to take him with a grain of salt. There are often challenges while he is cooking. A glass pitcher breaks, egg shells fall into a bowl, the oven is locked up. It is all in good fun when cooking on the show but there is substance behind it all.The cooking is carefree but he takes the message of the show seriously.
When asked about the message of a show like Our Daily Bread, Fr. Paul said, "Our show is a subtle way of expressing a profound theological truth; the Incarnation. In other words, the Son of God, Jesus, became one of us. He took on human flesh and all aspects of living that go with it. If we could grasp more deeply the notion that God is part of our human experience at every moment, we would come into a more profound relationship with God and one another. Our show is a subtle way of bringing the Good News into people's lives by sharing simple stories and recipes that speak of the depth of human experience. The more we grasp our human experience, the more readily we can open ourselves to the Divine". Now that message is expanding even further to Boston Catholic TV, and Fresno, California. BCTV began airing Our Daily Bread, in September 2008. Fresno airs the Food for Thought segments.
In one of the Food for Thought segmentsFr. Paul tells a story about a few weeks spent in New Orleans at St. Francis de Sales parish and how it was one of the most enjoyable of his life. Fr. Paul sought out this parish because he wanted to minister to an inner city parish, especially one in New Orleans. This experience laid the foundation for his life as pastor of St. Lawrence Church on the east side of Buffalo, N.Y. It seems no matter where he goes, Fr. Paul brings with him the passion and enthusiasm of cooking and spirituality. He has been all over, from Toronto to the Holy Land to New Mexico and back to Buffalo again. When asked about Buffalo and living here Fr. Paul said, "I have been really blessed in being able to travel to many places but I feel Buffalo will be my point of departure to the next life. My roots are here and there are excellent eating establishments in Western New York, usually at a decent price. My vocation was nurtured in South Buffalo and the parishes I have served throughout the Diocese of Buffalo, and for this I am grateful."
His priesthood has taken him from the Office of Worship in downtown Buffalo to St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church in Orchard Park, where he is Pastor. He has achieved the goal of "walking in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, now the fine tuning and adjustments of ministry continue". There is sure to be more travel and cooking, but it is always to the benefit of the audience. Fr. Paul takes stories and recipes from different areas and cultures and breaks bread with the viewers, family and friends. The location of his ministry may change, but the purpose will never waver.