Those new faces form a rainbow, representing men that, quite literally, come to the archdiocese from around the world.
Father Gomes, archdiocesan director of adjunct clergy, makes it his "top priority" to meet the requests of pastors for priests from abroad to fill in for themselves and their parochial vicars so that they can have a "well-deserved vacation."
This year, Father Gomes pointed out, the Archdiocese of Newark has the most adjunct clergy ever, with 64 priests assigned to local parishes. He expects that number to increase next year.
The program brings a global perspective to the four counties of the archdiocese. This year, in terms of international diversity, the Philippines leads the way with 23 adjunct clergy in the Archdiocese of Newark, followed by India 15, Poland eight, Nigeria four, Bangladesh six and one each from Slovakia, Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Honduras, Columbia, Togo and Zimbabwe.
While adjunct clergy come from all corners of the world, most are studying in Rome and Leuven, Belgium, and make the trip to the United States when their schools close for the summer. Adjunct clergy, Father Gomes stressed, "share and gain pastoral experiences." And, by way of extension, parishes throughout the archdiocese learn about these men and their respective cultures.
The archdiocese is among the national leaders in utilizing "summer adjunct" priests. That is so, explained Father Gomes, primarily due to the archdiocese's "great reputation." The pastors, he added, treat the visiting priests "very well" and parishioners are especially "hospitable and welcoming."
Some 65 parishes in the archdiocese are participating in the program. There are two main time slots for adjunct priests: June through August and July through September. Most of the dioceses utilizing the program are on either the east or west coasts.
Transportation challenges, primarily lack of a driver license and inadequate public transportation, limits parishes in the other parts of the country, Father Gomes noted, adding that the logistics involved are laborious.
In addition to pastors' requests, Father Gomes said, the priests contact his office often times simply through "word of mouth." An initial step in the process is a fourpage application that includes recommendations from the priest's school and his bishop or superior, if the priest is a Religious.
A letter is then sent to the bishop containing a vital document called a Certificate of Aptitude. It ensures the applicant is "in good standing and has the ability to work with minors and adults and has no accusations against him." Farther Gomes explained.
It is "vital and important," the director of adjunct clergy emphasized, that each priest obtains a "religious worker" visa known as an "R-1" visa. The visitors must also obtain a Social Security number and pay taxes. His office, Father Gomes went on, "meticulously follows every requirements of the federal government."