.- The Archdiocese of Newark on Saturday ordained 13 priests, the United States’ largest ordination class of 2009.
The men were ordained by Archbishop of Newark John J. Myers at a morning Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports.
Ten of the ordinands were foreign-born, with three from Colombia, two from Nigeria, and one each from Italy, Ecuador, South Korea, the Dominican Republic and Hungary.
Several of the foreign-born priests grew up in the United States.
Monsignor Robert Wister, a church historian at Seton Hall University, told the Star-Ledger that about one-third of the Catholics in the archdiocese are foreign born. About 40 percent are Latino.
“Just as the people have come from other countries, so a great number of seminarians have,” he said.
The newly ordained Rev. Matthew Dooley, 43, is a former funeral director, while the 34-year-old Rev. John Prada is a former laser surgery technician.
The average age of the class is just under 34.
Rev. Dooley said funeral work was much like a ministry and also kept him in regular contact with priests.
“So I had a particular priest who was unafraid to bring up the issue and initiated the discussion, and that did a lot to move me off the fence. It was enough to intensify my discernment,” he told the Star-Ledger.
The Archdiocese of Newark has two major seminaries: Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology in South Orange and Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary in Kearney.
The latter is associated with the Neo-Catechumenal Way, a lay Catholic movement. On average the seminary has produced five ordinands per year since its first graduating class in 1994.
In three of the past five years, the Archdiocese of Newark’s ordination class ranked the largest in the U.S. A reported 17 men were ordained in 2006, while 13 were ordained in 2007.
New Jersey’s other four Catholic dioceses are also ordaining priests this month. The Diocese of Camden has ordained two men, the Diocese of Metuchen has ordained three and the Diocese of Paterson has ordained seven. The Diocese of Trenton plans to ordain three men to the priesthood on Saturday.