We, the priests and parishioners of St. Michael Parish, celebrate with the entire Archdiocese of Newark the ordination to the priesthood of twelve fine young men, among them and dear to us, Father Hermes Diaz Vargas, Father Kevin Kilgore and, newly assigned to St. Michael’s, Father Thomas Quinn. They are in our thoughts and prayers as they begin their parish ministries.
Several of our parishioners were in attendance at the Ordination: Msgr. Tim, Sister Pat, Sister Loretta, James Cherrey, Ellen Collett, Tom and Eileen Feeney, Cindy and Tom Hannen and James Winter.
We have experienced firsthand the sincerity and enthusiasm of Fr. Hermes and Fr. Kevin and wish them well in their new assignments. Father Hermes will be close by at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Father Kevin will be even closer for a time, serving God’s people at St. Theresa, Kenilworth for the summer before returning to Rome in September to continue his studies.
Responding to God's Call
Here are accounts of the personal journeys of Fathers Hermes, Kevin and Thomas that led them to hear and answer God's call to the priesthood. Let us pray for them and also pray that their generous and faith-filled lives inspire our young men to be open to listening for a call to priesthood. The photos and stories below are from the May 13 Issue of the Archdiocesan Newspaper, the Catholic Advocate.
Father Hermes Diaz Vargas
“A t the beginning, I was so afraid to say yes to God,” Fr. Diaz, 38, explained. Although he fell “in love with the Eucharist” at age 7 in his hometown of San Bernardo in Tolima, Colombia, he was hesitant to answer “yes” to the call. “I felt the presence of God in my life since I was very young, around 6 - 10 years old. I saw many priests in my town, and I said to myself that I would like to be like them some day.”
While studying financial administration in college, Fr. Diaz would find solace by visiting the university’s chapel. “My best moments were spending hours without words, contemplating Jesus in His sanctuary.”
Fr. Diaz entered the seminary in Colombia before attending Immaculate Conception Seminary. “It was not easy to get a new country, culture, and a new language, especially at the beginning of my thirties, but the Spirit of God helped me a lot; God breaks the walls and makes bridges, because He wants all His children find their mission, their destination.”
Fr. Diaz celebrated his first Mass at Saint Stephen Parish in Kearny on May 24, where he also served as a deacon. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Michael's on Saturday, May 30 at 5:30 PM.
Father Kevin Kilgore
“The greatest challenge during my seminary formation was walking with my mother through her battle with pancreatic cancer,” he recalled. “She was diagnosed on July 4, 2013, and passed on March 11, 2014. I spent the majority of that time in Rome, continuing my studies for priesthood.”
He was able to visit his mother several times before her death, and taught her more about the Catholic faith. She entered RCIA during the fall of 2013 and was received into the Church and confirmed three days before her passing. “The greatest lesson I learned from that experience was the value of the Gospel. It can, and always should be, a source of strength, faith, and hope for all who believe whether in times of trial or joy,” he said.
Fr. Kilgore earned a bachelor’s degree in diplomacy and international relations from Seton Hall University and worked as an elementary school teacher at Newton Street School in Newark.
He celebrated his first Mass at his home parish, Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange, on May 24. He will celebrate with us on a Sunday in July.
Father Thomas Quinn
The eldest of five children, Fr. Quinn, 33, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Caldwell University. The Montclair native also graduated from Seton Hall University with a master’s degree in ecclesiastical history and a Master of Divinity.
In the summer of 2012, he attended the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, NE, with fellow seminarians. Using the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the classes gave the aspiring priests a solid foundation on which to build their ministry and life. At the retreat, Fr. Quinn explored the five Christological dimensions of every priest’s life and identity.
“It was the time in prayer I spent with these five categories that opened my heart to a deeper awareness of my vocation and to a burning love for the work and mission of the priest – that alter Christus,” he explained. “The priest is he who through the Lord’s gift alone perpetuates His power and love to all generations.”
Fr. Quinn served as a deacon at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, North Bergen. He celebrated his first Mass May 24 at Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Cedar Grove. He will be joining us at St. Michael's in mid-June.
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