On Saturday, May 25, six men will be ordained to the priesthood for service to the Archdiocese of Newark. The Ordination will take place beginning at 10 AM in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge Street in Newark. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, will be the main celebrant.
The six Ordinandi, who range in age from 25 to 50, will join more than 700 priests who currently serve the 1.5 million Catholics of the Archdiocese—as well as Catholics elsewhere in New Jersey, in the United States, and in mission duty around the world.
The Ordination will feature priests from five countries located in three continents: United States, Canada, Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
Many have been involved in missionary work, parish ministry, hospital ministry, and youth ministry. In choosing to answer God’s call to serve the Church as priests, each has cited the power of prayer, the Rosary, parents and grandparents, Religious Priests and Sisters, and the intervention of the Blessed Mother as key elements influencing their decisions.
Although each new priest took a different journey in responding to God’s call, all share a deep humility at being called to priesthood, and the common desire to do the will of God and serve His Church.
(Biographical Information on each of the new priests follows)
Father Andrew J. De Silva
Fr. De Silva, 40, was born in Quebec City, Canada, and raised in Ojai, California. He received a B.A. in Liberal Arts, and an M.A. in Pastoral Ministry. On his journey to the priesthood, Fr. De Silva was working as a Wine Consultant and then Wine Manager for the Total Wine and More company in Northern Virginia.
“I enjoyed my co-workers and the role as a young leader in the company. Despite excelling in the job, I felt that there was something lacking in my life. Returning to the practice of my Catholic faith, I began to feel God’s presence very strongly in my life and once I let myself consider becoming a priest, I heard God calling me to give my life to Him. In particular, I felt and still feel the call to help those suffering or who have no love in their lives discover God’s loving presence.”
Father Cesar L. Chen
Fr. Chen, 50, was born and raised in Panama. He received a B.S. in Computer Science, and began his professional career as an IT Manager. Fr. Chen says the Neocatechumenal Way helped him answer the call to the priesthood.
“The Neocatechumenal Way have [sic] been the reason why my life was significantly improved and my Catholic faith was restored, on which my vocation stands. It is true that I needed my parents and grandparent’s faith. But ultimately it has been through the help of my Neocatechumenal Way catechists that, the gift of faith given to me in Baptism, was nurtured and brought to maturity.”
Father Steve B. Chun
Fr. Chun, 39, was born in South Korea, and raised in Montvale, NJ. He earned a B.A. and M.Div from Seton Hall University. Fr. Chun credits a faith retreat in 2013 as having a significant effect on his decision to enter the Priesthood.
“I wanted to find out more about life of priest [sic] and what kind of men God calls to his priesthood and whether I was being called to priesthood or not. At the retreat, I felt like all of the questions I had were answered and the retreat was catered just for me, even though there were number [sic] of other guys there at the retreat. Whether it was God’s providence or coincidence, the day after retreat [sic] ended I was to go on a service trip to Haiti and experienced a deep sense of “there’s more to life than what I can obtain in this life.”
Father Chan Lee
Fr. Lee, 25, was born in Cheonan, South Korea, and raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. He received a Philosophy degree from the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University, and a Bachelor of Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Fr. Lee began to think about entering the seminary during his senior year of high school.
“My high school required that all seniors do 40 hours of service hours as a requirement to graduate and so I asked my pastor if I could serve as an altar server to fulfill those hours. He asked that I serve Mass and the Eucharistic Adoration that followed every Thursday, and I gladly accepted. It was during those one hour periods in front of the Blessed Sacrament that made me face the reality of the call.”
Father Jason Mantich
Fr. Mantich, 38, was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, and raised in Hyattsville and Bowie, Maryland. He holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Fr. Mantich never thought his life’s journey would lead him to the priesthood, but he is grateful to answer the call.
“I never thought that my faith journey would bring me to discover that my vocation was to the priesthood. However, I am very grateful to be able to say that the plans I had for my life were definitely very cheap compared to the life God is giving me through His Church and by following His will...I once heard a homily in which the priest asked those listening, “How many people are waiting for you to convert?” This question has stayed with me throughout my formation in the seminary. If God is calling me to become a priest, I better answer the call, challenging times or not.”
Father Juan Rojas
Fr. Rojas, 29, was born and raised in Yarumal, Antioquia, Colombia. He earned a License in Philosophy and Religion from College Cristo Sacerdote, Yarumal, and an M.Div and M.A. in Biblical Studies from the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University. Fr. Rojas’ work at St. Joseph Hospital in Paterson, NJ helped convince him to answer the calling to the priesthood.
“Over the Summer of 2017, I was assigned to St. Joseph Hospital in Paterson, NJ, to complete my Clinical Pastoral Formation. The program was eight weeks long...Something that struck me from this assignment and more so now, as I am approaching the Holy Orders of priesthood, is the fact that this is a ministry of presence. A ministry of being with the people of God. I remember holding the hand of an elderly African-American woman, in her late 80s. She could not even say a word, but she was holding my hand in a way that I was able to read how much she was appreciating my presence. There, I reencountered my vocation. I was not only ministering to an elderly woman who was in so much pain, but I was meeting the Lord.”