Father Peirano greets members of his new flock after Mass.
Father Peirano greets members of his new flock after Mass.

Father Juan Daniel Peirano has a definite vision on what it means to be a pastor. 

“A pastor is not about being the boss,” he said. “I’m not a boss. A pastor is someone who works alongside the people and with the people.” 

That’s the vision Father Peirano maintained in his previous assignments as pastor of Christ the King, Long Branch; Nativity, Fair Haven, and Christ the Redeemer, Mount Holly. And now he eagerly brings it to his latest assignment in St. Thomas More Parish, Manalapan, where he was installed as pastor Nov. 6 during a Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.  

PHOTO GALLERY: Father Peirano's Installation Mass

“My dear friends, because I am aware of your pastoral needs, and I am very confident of Father Peirano’s qualifications for the Office of Pastor, I now commend him to you as your pastor,” Bishop O’Connell said, drawing a round of applause from the congregation gathered in St. Thomas More Church. 

“For me as a simple priest, it is a great honor to be here with you,” Father Peirano said at the start of his homily. Citing the day’s Gospel about the poor widow who gave from meager means to help those in need, he said, “Take the model and teachings of that woman and let us look at our own life and know how to give ourselves all to Jesus.”

The treasure reflected here “is the person, not the wealth,” he said. “This poor woman didn’t ask for anything but was willing to give everything. And Jesus calls his disciples and invites them to look at that woman who was willing to give her last two coins, to give all that she had.”

Speaking from the viewpoint of a priest, Father Peirano shared, “We as disciples of Jesus are called to abandon ourselves in the hands of God, without holding anything for ourselves, even though it is not easy. We are to love the people of God following the teachings of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, for whom we were willing to leave everything behind and follow him. It is not about us. It is about Jesus Christ.”

Father Peirano was born in 1969 in Lima, Peru, and was ordained a priest May 15, 2004, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, by Bishop John M. Smith. He was parochial vicar in Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton; Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Trenton; St. James Parish, Red Bank; Holy Trinity, Our Lady Star of the Sea, and St. John the Baptist Parishes, Long Branch. In 2009, he was named administrator of the three Long Branch parishes and then named pastor of the newly merged Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, which comprises two worship sites – Holy Trinity Church and Our Lady Star of the Sea Church. He also holds a canon law degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Father Peirano, who arrived as pastor of St. Thomas More Parish on May 24, said he enjoys shepherding this community with two worship sites – St. Thomas More Church, Manalapan, and Our Lady of Mercy Church, Englishtown – and reports having some 7,000 registered parishioners. On any given weekend, he estimates about 1,200 parishioners attend Mass regularly and there are 1,200 students enrolled in the religious education program. He noted that more parishioners have been viewing Masses online since the onset of the pandemic but anticipates that with time more people will return to Mass in-person. There are scores of ministries for folks of all ages and interests, including a St. Vincent de Paul conference; Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts; the Legion of Mary; an active music ministry with several choirs, and youth of the parish can participate in a new youth group that was recently formed in collaboration with other Cohort parishes – St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold; St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold, and St. Joseph Parish, Millstone.

“It’s a wonderful community and the people are amazing. I am blessed,” Father Peirano said of St. Thomas More Parish.

“Being a pastor is a privilege,” Father Peirano said. “What a gift it is to have the responsibilities of a parish entrusted to me. I want to share, work, walk and be with the people, to celebrate the Sacraments for them. It’s my hope that together we will build the Kingdom of God.”