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May 15, 2014

Jim Goodness


Archdiocese to Ordain 12 New Priests on May 24 - Ordination Class Is Second Largest* In Nation 

On Saturday, May 24, the Archdiocese of Newark again will have the second largest class among dioceses in the nation in terms of new priests when 12 men are ordained to the priesthood for service in the Archdiocese of Newark. The Ordination will take place beginning at 12 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, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, the Philippines and South Korea, three are American-born: from New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico. 

Several members of the Class of 2014 gained business experience prior to entering the seminary. One was a car salesman, one worked in human resources, one was an industrial designer, and another had a career in real estate. 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 and 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 163 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 Emmanuel Otuosoruchi Agu 

Before entering the seminary, Father Agu, 35, was an evangelization and outreach leader in the Nigerian village where he was raised. His father, Romanus, and his mother, Caroline, are farmers. Thanks to their influence and that of other friends and relatives, he said he always thought he would be a priest.  

Entering the seminary, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the Lateran Pontifical University in Rome. At the seminary, he earned a master’s degree in theology and a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry. 

He will celebrate his first Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Midland Park, where he also served his diaconate. 

Father Elvio Esteban Batista 

Born in the Dominican Republic, Father Esteban, 32, moved to New Jersey 10 years ago with two brothers and a sister. His parents, Julia and Juan, drive school buses and Fr. Esteban worked as a Honda salesman before beginning his studies for the priesthood. 

Fr. Esteban will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, St. Paul the Apostle in Jersey City. 

Father Eugenio Palileo de la Rama 

Born in Queens, NY 32 years ago, Father de la Rama grew up in Jersey City. His parents, Concepcion and Reynaldo, work at the United Nations in New York. 

While attending Rutgers University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Fr. de la Rama originally thought he was headed for a career in public service or law. However, after becoming active in a youth group during his senior year, he signed up to become a lay missionary for a year. As he served in Latin America, one year turned into five, and he discerned his vocation while serving with the priests in the various mission postings. 

Fr. de la Rama served his diaconate at St. Theresa in Kenilworth and will celebrate his first Mass in his home parish, Our Lady of Mercy in Jersey City. 

Father Nelson Yobani Oyola Garcia 

Fr. Oyola, 32, came to the U.S. in 2004 from Villahermosa Tolima, Colombia.  The son of Luis and Maria, he is the youngest of three brothers. He said the parishes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Jersey City - where he lived for his first five years in the States - and St. Francis de Sales in Lodi became part of his family. He also attended Saint Andrew’s Hall, the College Seminary of Seton Hall University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy before beginning his theological studies. 

He will celebrate his first Mass at Holy Trinity in Hackensack, where he served as a deacon. 

Father Duberley Salazar Gonzalez 

Born in Aransas-Caldas, Colombia 31 years ago, Fr. Salazar is the second-oldest of the five children of Jose Guillermo and Maria Dolly, who are farmers. Before entering the seminary, he worked as a Catholic journalist, a profession he chose while temporarily putting aside a childhood yearning to become a priest. His master’s degree is in pastoral ministry. His first Mass will be at St. Mary in Dumont, where he served as a deacon. 

Father Sung Gaye Hong 

Father Hong, 39, who grew up in Seoul, South Korea, had a career in industrial design before discerning his vocation. The oldest of two siblings, he earned college degrees at Catholic University of Korea and Seton Hall, where he also received his Masters of Divinity degree. 

He will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish of St. Andrew Kim in Maplewood; he served his diaconate at St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff.

Father Jong Going Kim 

Ever since he was a small child in South Korea, Father Kim, 33, aspired to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a professional tennis player, but shoulder surgery waylaid the dream. Following conversations with his parish priest, he made the choice to enter the seminary. 

He will celebrate his first Mass as his home parish, Madonna in Fort Lee; he served his diaconate at St. Catharine in Glen Rock. 

Father Doroteo B. Layosa 2d 

Born and raised in the Philippines, Fr. Layosa, 33, was the fourth of six children of the late Cayetano Layosa, a furniture maker, and his wife, Lourdes Salado. Before coming to the U.S. he studied at Holy Rosary Seminary in Naga City.

Fr. Layosa’s first Mass will be at St. Henry in Bayonne, where he served as a deacon. 

Father Archibald Lindo Mabini 

The son of Joana Mabini Redo and Ferdinand Attilio, Fr. Mabini, 31, is the eldest of seven. He entered the seminary after earning a bachelor’s degree in agricultural technology at Davao Oriental Science and Technology in the Philippines. 

During his formation, he served in missions in Belize and in St. Croix.  He will celebrate his First Mass at St. Peter’s Parish in Belleville, where he served as a deacon. 

Father Pedro Repollet 

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Father Repollet, 45, moved to New York when he was almost 17. Upon entering adulthood, he enjoyed an ever-growing success in real estate sales, but felt that something was missing in his life. As part of a missionary group, he first offered his story as a witness in talks and retreats locally and in other cities and outside the U.S. and entered the seminary in 2008. 

He will celebrate his first Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes in West Orange, where he served his diaconate. 

Father Zachary Swantek 

Raised in Clark and a parishioner at St. Helen in Westfield, Father Swantek, 34, earned a bachelor’s degree in literature and religious studies at Drew University. Before entering the seminary, he worked as a human resources recruiter and as a sales rep and sales trainer. While studying theology in Rome he served as a catechist to study-abroad students of the University of Mary (Bismarck, N.D.), assisted at Mass and presided at Adoration, and led Bible study groups in a prison. 

Fr. Swantek’s brother teaches religion in a Catholic high school. His father, Richard, is a retired information technology specialist; his mother, Linda is a substitute teacher. He will celebrate his first Mass at his home parish, St. Helen in Westfield. 

Father José Robinson Valencia 

The second of five children, Fr. Valencia, 32, was born and raised in Santa Rosa de Cabal – Risaralda, Colombia. His mother, Maria Claret Valencia, is a housewife; his father, Jose Olmedo Valencia, is a driver.  Father Valencia entered the minor seminary when he was 17. A year after earning a degree in philosophy, he came to the U.S. in 2010, adopting Saint Teresa of Avila in Summit as his home parish. 

Fr. Valencia will celebrate his first Mass at Saint Teresa of Avila. He served his diaconate at the Church of the Assumption in Roselle Park. 

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