On Saturday, May 23, the Archdiocese of Newark again will rank among the top five dioceses in the nation in terms of new priests when 12 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 and the Philippines, five have strong New Jersey roots: from Bloomfield, Montclair, Plainfield, South Orange and Union City.
Four members of the Class of 2015 gained experience in service to others prior to entering the seminary. One worked in a nursing home in his native Colombia, one was a teacher in the Newark public school system, one taught high school in the Philippines, and another was involved in development work at a boys’ preparatory school in the Archdiocese. The other eight entered seminary at college age. 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 170 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.
(Biographical information on each of the new priests follows.)
Father Johan David Betancourt Hurtado
Fr. Betancourt, 25, knew from a young age that he was destined for the priesthood. A native of Colombia, he entered the Seminario de Cristo Sacerdote immediately following high school. From there he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. Fr. Betancourt served his diaconate at Immaculate Conception Parish in Secaucus. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Philip the Apostle Parish, Saddle Brook, on May 23.
Father Luis Fernando Diaz Romero
The middle child in a family of eight children, Fr. Diaz, 30, worked at a nursing home in his hometown of Espinal Tolima, Colombia, prior to entering the seminary. He was encouraged by his parents, Maria Argenis and Luis Alberto, to join the priesthood. Fr. Diaz entered the Seminary de Cristo Sacerdote in his native Colombia, and then completed his formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. He will celebrate his first Mass on May 23 at St. Joseph the Carpenter Parish, Roselle, where he also served his diaconate.
Father Hermes Diaz Vargas
Although he “fell in love with the Eucharist” at age 7 in his home town of Tolima, Colombia, Fr. Diaz, 38, says he was hesitant to answer “Yes” to the call to priesthood. As a university student in Colombia studying financial administration, however, he spent many moments in the school’s chapel, and ultimately entered the seminary in Colombia. From there he transferred to Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Stephen Parish in Kearny, where he served his diaconate, on May 24.
Father Brian Orlando González
Union City native Fr. González, 31, credits Father Fernando Carranza, the former pastor of his home parish of Ss. Joseph and Michael with helping him to discern his vocation. He entered Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the missionary house of formation of the Archdiocese of Newark and studied for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Aloysius Parish, Jersey City, where he served his diaconate, on May 24.
Father Paul David Importico
Plainfield native and the only son of Nick and Elisa Importico, Fr. Importico earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, in Rome. His great-grandmother’s devotion and care helped influence Fr. Importico’s ministry to the sick and in local hospitals. “I desire as priest to have as my model Jesus as the Good Shepherd,” he said. Fr. Importico will celebrate his First Mass at St. Joseph Parish, Bogota, where he served his diaconate, on May 24.
Father Cesar Augusto Infante Romero
Father Infante, 28, is a native of Colombia and the oldest of three children. He attended the Major Seminary of Tunja, Colombia, and continued his formation at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. Fr. Infante will celebrate his first Mass at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Parish in Scotch Plains on May 24.
Father Kevin M. Ward Kilgore
Born in Atlanta, GA, but a long-time resident of South Orange, NJ, Fr. Kilgore studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Prior to this, he had earned a bachelor’s degree in diplomacy and international relations at Seton Hall University, and worked for a period as an elementary school teacher in the Newark public school system. He will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, Our Lady of Sorrows, South Orange, on May 24.
Father Jason Joseph Makarow
Born and raised in Bloomfield, Fr. Makarow, 33, worked as Director of Institutional Advancement at Seton Hall Prep School for seven years before entering Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. The son of Anthony and Elaine Makarow, he attended St. Lucy Parish in Newark. As a seminarian, Fr. Makerow attended the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE, where he became even more convinced that he had been called to priestly vocation. Fr. Makerow served his diaconate at St. Henry Parish, Bayonne. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Luke Parish, Ho-Ho-Kus, on May 24.
Father Oliver D. Nilo
A native of Tampoong, Philippines, Fr. Nilo, 37, is the second-youngest of 12 children. After graduating high school, Fr. Nilo decided to enter the seminary and be a missionary. He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and taught in the Philippines for four years before entering the seminary. He entered the seminary in 2010, and served his diaconate at St. Philip the Apostle Parish, Saddle Brook. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Aloysius Parish, Jersey City, on May 23.
Father José Arturo Ortiz
Born in Medellin, Colombia to José Antonio and Maria Elda Ortiz, Fr. Ortiz, 42, has four brothers and four sisters. He entered Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the missionary house of formation of the Archdiocese of Newark and studied for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Columba Parish, Newark, where he served his diaconate, on May 24.
Father Thomas P. Quinn
The eldest of five children, Montclair native Fr. Quinn, 33, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Caldwell University. Following this, he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University, and also attended the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE with fellow seminarians. Fr. Quinn served as a deacon at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, North Bergen. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Cedar Grove, on May 24.
Father Antonio T. Sarento Jr.
Originally from Bukidnon, Philippines, Fr. Sarento, 33, is the youngest of four children of Antonio and Thelma Sarento. Raised on a farm, he learned to trust “Divine Providence” at a young age, and in high school began to see the joy of priesthood in life and ministry. After coming to the United States, he studied for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Seton Hall University. Fr. Sarento served his diaconate at Holy Family Parish in Nutley, and will celebrate his first Mass on May 24 at his home parish of our Lady of Victories, Jersey City.