On the night that Transitional Deacons were ordained to serve in our Diocese of Paterson, Bishop Arthur Serratelli asked to see me. I had a sense that I was going to be moved and possibly receive greater responsibility. When our bishop told me that he was appointing me to serve as Administrator of St. Catherine of Siena I was thrilled by the pastoral leadership position he was entrusting to me. While I knew then little about the parish and now only know a bit more from my initial contacts, I consider this nothing short of the providence of God. This note can never convey the excitement and thrill I have for the opportunity to shepherd our faith community.
Like a number of you, I am a transplant to New Jersey. Born and raised in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn, NY, I am the youngest of four boys; Daniel (Valerie), Thomas (Jennifer), and John (Diana). I am the very proud uncle of six nieces and nephews. My parents, Dan and Mary Lou, still live in Brooklyn, and are celebrating 48 years of marriage this year. Generally, if no other appointments preclude me from doing so, I get to see them on my day off. My family was a “typical” Catholic family. Faith was always a priority, BUT we were not walking around with halos on. Most of my education was received in Catholic schools. I completed my education at Good Shepherd, my parish elementary school, Xavier High School, NY, St. Joseph College, NY, Steinhardt Graduate School of Education of New York University. I completed my studies for the Priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, NY and Theological College at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Prior to entering the seminary I worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the New York City Department of Education. I enjoyed working with and helping young people who struggled with communication. During my years there, I learned how we at times can take communication for granted when it really is a great gift that ought to be cherished. Communication is an important part of any relationship…whether it be married couples, families, co-workers, or a priest and the community he serves.
On May 28, 2011 Bishop Serratelli ordained me a Priest along with eight others. My first assignment as a priest was at St. Margaret of Scotland in Morristown followed by my most recent appointment as a Parochial Vicar at St. Philip the Apostle in Clifton. In addition to parochial responsibilities, I serve as one of the Assistant Vocation Directors in our Diocese. This ministry involves assisting young men in their vocational discernment process leading up to entrance into the seminary and journeying with the seminarians through their formation process. It is an awesome privilege to accompany these young men in such an important endeavor.
It is with great joy that I come to St. Catherine of Siena. I am grateful to Bishop Serratelli for this wonderful opportunity to be present to and serve each of you on your own journey with God. Each of us has a desire for God. Each of us needs God. Together we journey. Together we experience the unbelievable and never ending love of God. We are part of an extraordinary community at St. Catherine of Siena. Each of you are a part of a legacy, a tradition, and a story here. I am now part of a tradition following Fr. Joseph Glynn, Fr. David Mahon, Fr. Pat Rice, and Fr. Peter Filipkowski who have served you so ably as previous pastors. We all start this NEW journey together. Like my family, we do not have halos (well, maybe some of you do!), but we have a sincere desire to come to know and love God and serve him and one another to the best of our abilities. As St. Catherine (1347-1380) said in The Dialogue: "The human heart is always drawn by love. (26)" and "Love transforms one into what one loves. (60)"
God has blessed each of us in so many ways. We use those gifts to build on the strong foundation on which St. Catherine’s is built in order to make this a community of strong faith spiritually, vibrant action in service, and gracious welcome in social ways. Again quoting St. Catherine: ”Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." Let us pray for one another as we begin this journey together with God and for God…with one another and for one another.