History of the New Brunswick Oratory, Part 2
In 1993, the community in residence at St. Bartholomew Parish in East Brunswick was established as a Pious House by Bishop Hughes for the purpose of living the common life in order to discern a vocation to the Oratory. They began to live the Oratorian way of life, learning at times by trial and error. The structure for their daily prayer gradually took shape, with daily prayer in the Oratorian tradition and dinner becoming the key moments of the day. A study of the Constitutions of the Oratory as well as other pertinent documents was also undertaken.
1994 saw two other important moments in the community’s development. First, a journey to Rome and England by two of the members, to meet with the late Fr. Antonio Dario of the Oratory of Verona who was then serving as Procurator General of the Confederation of Oratories, and Fr. Michael Napier, from London, who had been entrusted by Fr. Dario with the oversight of the developing community. In February 1996 Fr. Napier would make his first official visit to the Community in East Brunswick. During this visit Fr. Napier and Bishop Hughes established an excellent rapport with each other; both agreed that more time was still needed before canonical establishment.
The years 1996-1998 saw growth and change in the young community in formation. Original members moved on and new members arrived. The community experienced one of its first sorrows with the untimely death of Fr. Napier who had become a much beloved advocate. They would soon find a fitting successor in the new Procurator General, the Very Rev. Edoardo Aldo Cerrato, now Bishop of the Diocese of Ivrea in Italy. Fr. Edoardo visited in September 1997, and again in April 1998, when he announced his approval for the request for canonical establishment. One of the last things needed was a residence for the new community. Through the kindness of the Consolata Missionaries in Somerset, the young community obtained the use of an old farmhouse on their property.
Note: This article is part of our ongoing series on St. Philip Neri and the Oratory, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Philip.
Please direct any questions or comments to Fr. Jeff.