News & Events
Three new priests to be ordained June 22 for home Diocese of Metuchen
June 14, 2019
METUCHEN – Three men, all of whom are natives of the Diocese of Metuchen, will be ordained to the priesthood June 22 for service in their home diocese.
Deacon Joseph Illes, Deacon Matthew Marinelli and Deacon Michael Tabernero will be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop James F. Checchio, who will be the principal celebrant of the 10:30 a.m. Mass of the Rite of Ordination at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, 548 Main St., Metuchen.
All are welcome to attend the Ordination. For those unable to be present in person, the Ordination will also be livestreamed at: http://www.stfranciscathedral.org.
The faithful are encouraged to pray for the vocations of Deacon Illes, Deacon Marinelli and Deacon Tabernero, who are among the 21 seminarians preparing for service in the priesthood – the largest number of seminarians the Diocese of Metuchen has had in more than 25 years.
The evening before the Ordination, June 21 at 6 p.m., the faithful are welcome to participate in a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Vocations to be held at St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, 146 Metlars Lane, Piscataway, where they will be invited to pray for all vocations, so that the Lord may provide even more future shepherds for the local Church.
The men are among the 481 ordinands – an increase of more than 50 men from those ordained in 2018 – who are expected to enter the priesthood in dioceses throughout the United States this spring, according to a report released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, D.C.
“You trust that God ultimately guides everything and is leading you exactly where he calls you,” said Deacon Illes. “The challenge is not to be distracted by all the other stuff going on, instead keeping your eyes on Christ.”
A Phillipsburg native, Deacon Illes graduated from Delaware Valley Regional High School, Frenchtown, then earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Richmond, Va. He earned master’s degrees in divinity and sacred theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore.
Deacon Illes recalls observing two priests who, by their examples, inspired his vocation to the priesthood: Msgr. David Fulton, an associate professor of Moral Theology at St. Mary Seminary & University, and Benedictine Father Gregory Gresko, his first spiritual director in college.
Leading to his decision to enter the seminary, though, was ultimately the result of the liturgy itself, Deacon Illes said, calling it “beautiful and formal, regular but changing in small ways, [with] great music and genuine gestures of piety. Its roots stretch back thousands of years. It is totally engaging, and I wanted to be the priest leading it.”
“As my faith developed and I came to understand the Eucharist,” Deacon Illes said, “I wanted even more so to be the one who consecrates the bread and wine to become Our Lord.”
Deacon Illes will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at his home parish, St. Philip & St. James, Phillipsburg, at 11 a.m. June 23, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – also known as the Feast of Corpus Christi – which is a celebration of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
According to the USCCB report on the ordinand class of 2019, nine in 10 responding ordinands, or 92 percent, reported being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life, often a parish priest, friend or another parishioner.
“My mother first mentioned becoming a priest,” said Deacon Tabernero, adding that his pastor also nurtured a deep sense of intimacy with the Lord, to live with Him and live according to His plan.
Deacon Tabernero, born in Summit, graduated from Hillsborough High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Catholic theology and philosophy from Seton Hall University, South Orange. Upon his graduation from Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Pa., Deacon Tabernero earned a master’s degree in divinity, cum laude; a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology, and the seminary’s Benedictine Father Demetrius R. Dumm Sacred Scripture Award, which is given by the faculty to the student “who most demonstrates excellence in the study of Sacred Scripture.”
“It was a great experience to learn about the faith and the intellectual background of it,” Deacon Tabernero said of his time in the seminary. “I also developed a deeper prayer life and experienced greater spiritual blessings.”
While Deacon Tabernero enjoyed his time in the seminary, he said he is excited to serve in a parish.
“I want to help out in the parish, be a part of the community, and start good things, like community projects,” said Deacon Tabernero, who is eagerly awaiting his ordination.
The same day he is ordained, Deacon Tabernero will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at 4:45 p.m. at his home parish, St. Joseph, Hillsborough.
According to the USCCB report on the ordinand class of 2019, around seven in 10 responding ordinands reported being encouraged to consider priesthood by a parish priest
“I’ve had some really good priests at my parish,” said Deacon Marinelli, recalling conversations and guidance over the years from clergy such as Msgr. Michael J. Corona and Father James A. Kyrpczak. “They had an impact on me and helped me discern.”
Deacon Marinelli, also a Phillipsburg native, graduated from Phillipsburg High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophical theology from Seton Hall University, South Orange. While studying for a master’s degree in divinity at Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Pa., he undertook a diaconate assignment in a small Pittsburgh parish.
“They had a small Spanish community there which was super loving, devout and hospitable,” said Deacon Marinelli.
As a seminarian, Deacon Marinelli participated in a pastoral language immersion program in Bolivia, which helped to sharpen his Spanish language skills, the need for which is becoming ever more prevalent in the Diocese of Metuchen. He continued to hone those skills during a summer assignment in the Hispanic community of Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Perth Amboy.
Though he enjoyed his summer assignments, Deacon Marinelli said he is greatly anticipating engaging in the lives of parishioners and forming the deep bonds that come with serving in a parish.
“I most look forward to being in people’s lives,” said Deacon Marinelli. “In the seminary, you get a taste of the future, but you work with the people temporarily. Now, as a priest, I will be there the whole year long.”
He said he also looks forward to celebrating the Eucharist with the people of God, saying, “I look forward to sharing Jesus with our people through giving the Eucharist to them. I also hope they will see Christ in me and my actions; our faithful love Christ's priesthood and I will be blessed to share in that.”
Deacon Marinelli will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at his home parish, St. Philip & St. James, Phillipsburg, at 9 a.m. June 23.
In reflecting on the vows the three men are expected to take June 22, Deacon Marinelli said, “One of the promises we will make is ‘to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.’ “Sanctification of the people of God and to the glory of God. That’s beautiful.”
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