The Vocationist Fathers first arrived in the United States on August 9, 1962. The Superior General at that time was Rev. John Galasso, S.D.V. The first two priests assigned to the new mission took residence at 196 Broad Street in Newark, NJ. Archbishop Boland invited the Vocationists to the Archdiocese of Newark to minister to the spiritual and social needs of the Spanish-speaking immigrants who, at the time, were flocking in increasingly numbers.
With the years, more Vocationist priests and students join the original group, giving them needed support in their growing services to the community. As the work of the priests progressed and began to bear fruits, it became evident that the Spanish speaking residents needed a place they could call their spiritual home. The priests showed their concern to the Archdiocese of Newark. Half a block away from the Vocationists’ residence there was a building owned by the Catholic parish of St. Michael’s. Archbishop Boland decided to refurbish it and convert it into a Church and Community Center for the Spanish-speaking community of Newark.
On March 5, 1982, a call came from the Most Rev. Peter Gerety, Archbishop of Newark, urging the Vocationist Fathers to take on the responsibility of St. Nicholas Parish in Palisades Park, NJ. For a few years, they were satisfied to be able to foster vocations under the parish bell tower … just like their founder had done in Pianura!
Still, the Fathers soon realized that the education they were giving their candidates had few advantages and many drawbacks. On one hand, it provided the advantage of the exposure of the candidates to the real world during their formation years, but on the other hand, they did not enjoy an isolated setting conductive to reading, studying and praying. Once again, the Divine Providence surprise them.
In 1986, Jack Burstyn, a man of Jewish faith, informed of the needs of the Vocationists, donated 30 acres of land in Florham Park, NJ, for the purpose of building religious houses for the Vocationist Fathers and Sisters. Many other benefactors joined Mr. Burstyn and generously contributed to the construction of the first Vocationary in the United States. The new house of formation was called Father Justin Vocationary and was solemnly blessed and inaugurated on May 27, 1989 by the Most Reverend Frank J. Rodimer, Bishop of Paterson, NJ.
Today, the Vocationist Fathers have six religious communities in New Jersey:
. Blessed Fr. Justin Vocationary in Florham Park,
. St. Michael’s Parish in Newark,
. St. Nicholas Church in Palisades Park,
. St. Gerard Majella Church in Paterson,
. Parish of the Visitation in New Brunswick, and
. St. Cecelia Church in Iselin.
We also have Vocationist communities in New York and Vermont:
. Shrine Church Our Lady of Solace in Brooklyn, NY,
. Mater Dei Parish in Newport, VT, and
. Our Lady of Seven Dolors in New Heaven, VT.
BLESSED FR. JUSTIN VOCATIONARY
“A Vocationary is a religious house where, in a spirit of prayer and study,
we educate and guide – free of charge – candidates who wish to dedicate themselves to a life of service to the Lord, but who are not oriented yet towards diocesan priesthood or religious congregations.”
— Blessed Fr. Justin Russolillo, S.D.V.
For more information on becoming a Vocationist Father or Brother,
please contact our Director of Vocations