Father Valle prays for the Lord's continued blessing as he assumes the role of pastor for the St. Paul parish family. Hal Brown photos
Father Valle prays for the Lord's continued blessing as he assumes the role of pastor for the St. Paul parish family. Hal Brown photos

Father Miguel Valle began serving the community of St. Paul Parish in July 2012 as parochial vicar, after having ministered in other parishes around the Diocese. The Princeton parish comprises 4,000 families, many of whom have “landed” there from other places, Father Valle shared.

St. Paul is a home for everyone, the new pastor said emphatically.

“The biggest change I have seen in these years is how the parish community has united to work for the wellbeing of our brother and sister immigrants. This work, and doing it together, has brought a new mentality, a positive change, to the parish groups, so much so that now we look to build bridges of unity in our celebrations, as well as family and youth ministries.”

Another significant change that the parish has seen recently is the elevation of Father Valle as the new St. Paul pastor, effective July 1.  A Mass was celebrated Sept. 26 by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in which Father Valle was installed in his new role in the presence of many St. Paul faithful, as well as friends and priests from across the Diocese. Bishop O’Connell took the opportunity to express his confidence in Father Valle as he assumes his new role after 18 years of priestly service in the Diocese of Trenton.

PHOTO GALLERY: Fr. Valle installed as pastor of St. Paul Parish

Reflecting on his priestly motto that he chose when he was ordained to the priesthood in 1995 in his native Colombia, “Working together for the Mission of the Church,” Father Valle shared his belief that it will continue to guide him. “Now, in my new role as pastor, the perspective remains the same. I will continue to work with love, enthusiasm, discipline and joy so that each child, teen, adult and family might come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

He continued, “The Church’s work is to evangelize, and each parish is a collaborator in that mission to build the Kingdom of God. And for that to happen, we need a strong family and youth ministry that meets them where they are at, from the context of daily life, to break open the experience of Christian community.”

Acknowledging that there will be challenges that he will need to address, Father Valle shared, “The administrative and financial questions that a pastor needs to deal with are hard and it will take some time to grasp all that it means to run a parish,” Father Valle shared. “But,” he continued, “at the core of all parish administration is the liturgical and spiritual life, and everything else, the administrative and economic, needs to lead to developing and deepening the parish’s spiritual life.”

After Father Valle’s ministry in St. Paul Parish for nearly 10 years, the community has come to know him well, and they him. He describes St. Paul Parish as “a Catholic Christian community with marvelous people,” adding that he feels blessed to walk with them on their spiritual journey.

Looking ahead to areas he’d like to focus on, Father Valle points to the amount of young people in the parish. He describes the “St. Paul School community as a vital part of the parish,” underscoring, that “Catholic education is the key to securing human and Christian values.”

For many years, St. Paul Parish maintained separate youth ministry and family programs, one for the Spanish-speaking community and another for the English. Father Valle hopes to work to change that, building parish unity as the young people of the parish grow in faith. He would like to create a pastoral team to bridge these important ministries.

Being installed as pastor is a meaningful milestone for Father Valle. “This greatly affects me personally in a positive way and I pray to the Lord for wisdom and discernment to continue developing the teamwork that has already established so much.”