Saturday, May 21, 2005

A day of Joy for the Diocese of Trenton

Today I went to the Priestly Ordination for the Diocese of Trenton. We had three men ordained priests (a fourth one was ordained "early" last December because his mother had terminal cancer and she would not have lived to see her son a priest). The three men come from a variety of backgrounds, and each went to a different seminary.

Fr. Ian is the youngest of the three at 29. He is also the tallest; I think he is 6'9". He not only earned his undergraduate degree in psychology before entering the Theological College at Catholic University, but had started his own school for children with special, mostly behavioral, needs. He has been assigned to St. Joan of Arc in Marlton, NJ.

Fr. Charles, a.k.a. Chuck, is 49. He was raised a devout Methodist, but at age 14 he took a part-time job which prevented him from making the service at the local Methodist church, so he started to attend the local Catholic church. 23 years later, in 1993, he and his sister-in-law became Catholics. He had worked for Oceanspray (NJ is the leading producer of cranberries in the US) for a long time, before responding to God's call to become a priest. He first attended college at the Franciscan University at Steubenville, and then Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University. He has been assigned to St. Mary's Church in New Monmouth, a neighboring parish of St. James where I am.

Fr. Mark is also 49 (I think). Originally from north NJ, after completing his MS in meteorology, he lived in FL teaching physics at a community college in Tampa-area. In the summers he had a neat job -- he came up to NJ and was the technician for a roller-coaster at one of our broadwalks. I never realized how much fine adjustments -- based on temperature, humidity, etc. -- had to be made everyday to the cars on a roller-coaster so that people don't fly out. He then took a job for Noah -- Oops!, make that N.O.A.A. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) -- in Princeton. He actually completed one year in the Diocese's permanent deacon program when he knew God was calling him to priesthood, so he attend St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia (where Fr. Tharp & I attend, and why I know more about him). He has been assigned to St. Thomas More Church in Manalapan.

Fr. Mike is the guy who was ordained "early," and he is 37 (I think). His father is a permanent deacon, and Fr. Mike worked in retail electronics before entering first St. Andrew's minor seminary at Seton Hall University, and then Immaculate Conception. I know that he is a sports fan, especially soccer, as he and I have attended a few Metrostars games in the past. I will have the great honor of getting to know Fr. Mike better as he has been assigned to St. James in Red Bank, where I am currently assigned. Fr. Mike has been one of the Trenton guys that I have been closest too since I entered the program here, so I am excited to be working with him.

May the Immaculata draw each of these new sons of hers close, and may they be abundantly blessed as they start their first assignments as priests.

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