For the third time in recent years, the Archdiocese of Newark is leading the nation with the number of men to be ordained to the priesthood. Archbishop John J. Myers will ordain 13 new priests, including two who call the Church of Newark home, on Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge St., Newark.
The archdiocese had the most ordinandi in the United States in 2006 with 17 men and 13 men two years ago. The Class of 2008 had nine priests (see The Catholic Advocate, May 21, 2008).
Reflecting on the new priests and the strengths that they will bring to the people of the archdiocese, Archbishop Myers said the Church of Newark "continues to be blessed by so many vocations to the priesthood. Each of us is called to discipleship of Jesus Christ. We all must seek to do so lovingly, selflessly, courageously and respectfully.
"These men have chosen to hear God's call to serve His people as priests, and to do so with love and a commitment to the Gospel," he continued. "I know that the people of this local Church will welcome them gratefully as they begin their ministries as Catholic priests."
Although each new priest took a different journey in responding to God's call, all of them share a deep humility at being called to the priesthood along with the common desire to do the will of God and serve His Church.
The members of the Class of 2009 had intriguing, diversified backgrounds in the business world before entering the seminary, representing various steps in their respective faith journeys. Their professions included funeral director, public relations, insurance, clinical psychology, laser surgery and blast-hole drilling in the quarry industry.
There are two "homegrown" members of the Class of 2009: Father Matthew Richard Dooley and Father Roberto Ortiz. The other ordinandi hail from far-away nations such as Ecuador, Nigeria, South Korea, Hungary, Colombia, Italy and the Dominican Republic. Biographies of all 13 new priests can be found beginning on page nine of this edition.
"Yet again we have a class of good and holy men who have invested themselves fully in the formation program here," Msgr. Thomas P. Nydegger, vice rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, said. "I know that their priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Newark will be an incomparable blessing to them and to the people and parishes they will serve. God is certainly smiling upon the Church of Newark."
Observing and admiring members of the Class of 2009, Father Tobias Rodriguez, assistant to the rector at Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Mission Seminary in Kearny, commented that "these men bring to this very multicultural archdiocese the wealth of their diverse backgrounds and experiences, unified by their love for Christ and His Church, deepened and expanded in their seminary life and, for some of them, through an extensive and serious experience of the Neocatechumenal Way, which helps us to re-appropriate and relive our Christian life. "Because of their love of Christ they have received and personally experienced, they are willing to serve the archdiocese and the Church Universal with the zeal to announce and help people live the Good News of God's love for all men," he said.
Father John D. Gabriel, director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Newark (see The Catholic Advocate, Aug. 6, 2008), described the discernment to the priesthood as a process of inner spiritual exploration, as the divine "calling" manifests itself in various ways.