On Saturday, May 28, the Archdiocese of Newark again will rank among the top dioceses in the nation in terms of new priests when ten men are ordained to the priesthood for service in the Archdiocese. The Ordination will take place beginning at noon in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge Street in Newark. The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark, will be the celebrant.
Although some of the new priests come from as far away as Colombia, Portugal, Poland, South Korea, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, two have strong New Jersey roots – Newark/Belleville and Livingston/Hillside, and one hails from New York State.
Six of the members of the Class of 2016 had business experience prior to entering the seminary. One worked as an opera singer in his native Nicaragua; another was an attorney; one managed a gas station; another had careers as a retail manager and a restaurateur; one worked in the public relations and youth ministry fields; another was a banker. Many have been involved in both missionary work around the world and in youth and young adult ministry. In choosing to answer God’s call to serve the Church as priests, each has cited the power of prayer, the Rosary, encouragement from a pastor, Religious Sisters, parents, and the intervention of the Blessed Mother as key elements influencing their decisions.
Reflecting on the new priests and the strengths that they will bring to the people of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Myers said the Archdiocese “continues to be blessed by so many vocations to the priesthood. I personally am blessed as well by the gift of the more than 180 men who have answered God’s call to priesthood since I became shepherd of this local Church of Newark in 2001. 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 the call of Pope Francis to address the spiritual and human needs of people with love and 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 and the common desire to do the will of God and serve His Church.
Note to Editors: Biographical information on each of the new priests follows
Father Gabriel J. Curtis
Fr. Curtis, 32, is a native of Nicaragua who began his university studies at the Universidad Católica “Redemptoris Mater” in Managua, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy with Education Studies, and a Master of Arts in Humanities. He also studied at the Conservatory of Music in Upoli, earning a Diploma in Vocal Performance (Opera Studies). Prior to entering the seminary, he spent time as an academic secretary at a Catholic high school in Managua, and as a singer with the Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario opera company. At Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University, he earned a Master of Divinity degree in Pastoral Ministry and a Master of Arts in Theology with a concentration in Church history.
Fr. Curtis served his diaconate at his home parish of Our Lady of Mt. Virgin, Garfield. He will celebrate his first Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin on May 29.
Father Vincent Anthony D’Agostino
Fr. D’Agostino, 50, was born in Newark and raised in Belleville. He holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Philosophy from Rutgers University, and a law degree from New York Law School. He worked as both a paralegal and an attorney for close to 20 years prior to entering the seminary. He credits the experience of the way that his parish priests cared for his mother and family during her fatal illness as the spark that confirmed his call to the priesthood.
Fr. D’Agostino entered Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in 2011. He spent his diaconate year at Sacred Heart Church, Haworth. He will celebrate his first Mass on May 29 at his home parish of Holy Family, Nutley.
Father Juan José Esteban
Fr. Esteban, 26, was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated with his family to Jersey City when he was 13.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Emmitsburg, MD, he worked for several years as the manager of a gas station in Hudson County. He entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University in 2009, earning his Master’s degree. He spent his diaconate at St. Joseph the Carpenter Parish, Roselle, where he will say his first Mass on May 28.
Father Andrew Jung
Seoul, Korea native Fr. Jung, 36, received his undergraduate education in Korea at Suwon Catholic University, Hwaseong, and his graduate degree at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University, which he entered in 2011.
He spent his diaconate at St. Thomas Moore Parish, Fairfield, and will celebrate his first Mass on May 29 in his home parish of St. Peter the Apostle, River Edge.
Father Francisco Maria Cordeiro Mendonca
Born in Portugal and raised in Canada, Brazil and the United States, Fr. Mendonca, 46, received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Felician College, Lodi. Prior to entering the seminary, he worked in retail management and as a teacher and CCD director. He also was an entrepreneur, operating both a florist and a Portuguese restaurant in Newark’s Ironbound section, which he sold when he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University in 2010.
He spent his diaconate at Holy Trinity Parish, Hackensack, and will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish of Our Lady of Fatima, Newark.
Father Bogumil Misiuk
Father Misiuk, 26, a native of Lublin, Poland, immigrated as a child with his parents to Newark, where he grew up.
His undergraduate and graduate education took place at Seton Hall University, where he earned Bachelor’s degrees in Catholic Theology and Classical Studies, and Master’s of Divinity and Christian Ethics degrees at Immaculate Conception Seminary, which he entered in 2012.
His diaconate was spent at Immaculate Conception Church, Secaucus. He will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish of St. Casimir, Newark.
Father Danny Alexis Pabon
Born and raised in Itagüí, Colombia, Fr. Pabon, 28, studied for his undergraduate degree in Philosophy in Colombia and at Seton Hall University. He completed his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, earning a degree in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He currently is pursuing a licentiate in Sacramental Theology at St. Anselmo University, Rome.
His diaconate year was spent at San Giovanni Batistta dei Fiorentini parish, Rome. He will celebrate his first Mass on May 29 at his home parish, St. Aloysius, Jersey City.
Father Daniel Raymond Peterson
Born in Poughkeepsie, New York and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Fr. Peterson, 31, worked in youth ministry and as a member of the staff of the Communications and Public Relations Office of the Archdiocese of Newark before entering Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University.
With Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Spanish from Seton Hall University, he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in 2009, where he completed his graduate degree and formation for the priesthood.
He spent his diaconate at Our Lady of Fatima, North Bergen, and will celebrate his first Mass on May 29 at his home parish, Guardian Angel Church, Allendale.
Father Jesus Ramos Gutierrez
A native of Inzá Cauca, Colombia, Fr. Gutierrez, 29, received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Eastern Catholic University, Rionegro Antioquia, Colombia. He entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University in 2013, where he completed his graduate studies and formation for the priesthood.
He will celebrate his first Mass on May 29 at St. Helen’s Parish, Westfield, where he served his diaconate.
Father Danny Santos Rodrigues
Danny Santos Rodrigues, 31, was born in Livingston and raised in Hillside, New Jersey. He received his undergraduate education at Kean University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Management Science. Prior to entering the seminary in 2010, he worked in the banking industry, leaving after four years to pursue his graduate studies and priestly formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University.
He served his diaconate at St. Henry Parish, Bayonne. He will celebrate his first Mass on May 29 at his home parish of Our Lady of Fatima, Elizabeth.