Last year the Church in Newark had 17 ordinandi to lead the nation (see The Catholic Advocate, May 24, 2006). This year, with 13 new priests, it tied the Archdiocese of Chicago for the top spot. The Newark Archdiocese, in recent years, consistently has been among the national leaders in priest ordinations. There were a dozen men ordained here two years ago, 14 in 2004 and a dozen again in 2003.
Members of the Church in Newark's Class of 2007 included Father Renato Jacinto Bautista, Father William Francis Benedetto, Father Mariano Nicolas Dellagiovanna, Father Manual Duenas, Father Oscar Daniel Fonseca, Father Robert Gajewski, Father Sebastian Jose Garcia, Father Charles Martin Kelly, Father Piotr Koziolkiewicz, Father Wilson Avelino Paculan, Father Jose Helber Victoria Tovar, Father Michael Sean Patrick Trainor and Father Maciej Jan Zajac. (A complete listing of the 13 new priests, with photos and biographies, appeared in the May 23 edition of The Catholic Advocate.)
Although it was reported that the Archdiocese of New York had 14 men ordained to the priesthood, seven of those were "order priests" for service to the Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in the Bronx.
Reflecting on this year's ordinandi, Archbishop John J. Myers said "this local Church in Newark and the Universal Church together are blessed through the faith and commitment that these men give us today. They join the order of the ordained priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ from all walks of life and with many different experiences. As the Church continues to face many challenges, she welcomes them, knowing that their love of God and His people will strengthen her."
Citing the archdiocese's leadership status, its vocations director, Father Brian Plate remarked, "this achievement is the fruit of much prayer, effort and commitment. The perseverance of these men is a tribute to their faith and the formation and faculty of our seminary."
The Mass of Ordination of Priests, celebrated before a Cathedral Basilica filled with clergy, Religious, seminarians as well as family and friends of the new priests, included several solemn moments. During the Promise of the Elect, the archbishop questioned the candidates who promised respect and obedience to the archbishop and his successors. Later in the Mass, Archbishop Myers laid his hands on the head of each elect as did all the priests in attendance. Then the archbishop prayed the Prayer of Ordination.
The new priests were vested followed by Archbishop Myers anointing their hands with chrism oil, praying that Jesus guard and preserve them. Referring to the Gospel in which Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, Archbishop Myers in his homily pointed to the humility of Christ in doing so. He stressed the "attitude of service" as the "ongoing work" of the priest "as servant."
The priest, he explained, "proclaims the Word" so that others will have "hope, life and are encouraged." The Word of God, he continued, has been "entrusted" to the Church. The Sacraments, said Archbishop Myers, are signs of the living God and a source of "hope and strength."
He reminded the new priests of their "sacred duty" to teach "in the name of Jesus Christ." When they do so, he added, they will act as nourishment to the people of God.
Archbishop Myers called upon the new priests to carry out their ministry of Jesus Christ "with joy and love." At the end of the Mass, the archbishop received the first blessing of each new priest.
Following Mass, the new priests processed out of the Cathedral Basilica to thunderous applause. They later offered their blessings to family and friends.