An outward sign of the good works of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Red Bank, was unveiled Dec. 10 at the corner of Bridge Street and the former Herbert Street in the Monmouth County borough. With the removal of a paper cover on the new street sign, “Oratory Way” stands as a signpost for the community of priests and brothers who live and work together in prayer and Catholic charity.

Father Alberto Tamayo, pastor of the adjacent St. Anthony of Padua Parish and founding member of the Oratory, led the assembled in praying the “Hail Mary” in English and Spanish, then was assisted in the unveiling by Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna.

The mayor recalled his years as an altar server in St. Anthony of Padua Church, just steps away from the Oratory. “It started as an immigrant parish, and once again it is an immigrant parish,” Menna said. The area’s primarily Italian population has yielded to Spanish-speaking residents, Menna continued, and, thanks to the help of the Oratory, “twenty years from now, there will be new immigrants.”

Father Tamayo explained the Oratory was a community of priests and brothers who live, pray, work and serve the people of God together after the spirit and rule of St. Philip Neri. In 2016, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., consented to the formation of the Oratory within the Diocese of Trenton. “The way the Oratory works is that the priests are there until death,” Father Tamayo said. “It is part of our charism to build up the local community.”

Changing the name of the short, dead-end street east of Bridge Avenue was a six-month-long process. A petition requesting the honorary renaming of the portion of Herbert Street was signed by nearly 500 parishioners and townspeople. That document, and letters of support from the two businesses located on the stretch of road, were presented to the borough clerk in early October. During the Oct. 26 council meeting, Resolution No. 22-262 was passed unanimously by Menna and the Red Bank Borough Council “commencing on Nov. 1, 2022, ‘All Saints Day,’ in recognition of the dedication and contributions to the Red Bank community,” it read.

Parishioner Anthony Privetera, who aided in the petition’s distribution and worked with the borough clerk and council, enumerated the good works of the Fathers and Brothers of the Oratory which prompted the townspeople’s effort.

“Many people were happy with the Oratory of St. Philip Neri and St Anthony's for their response during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “We hosted testing and vaccine clinics from the Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey. Our St. Crispin's Food Pantry stayed open and served all members of Red Bank and surrounding communities.”

Privetera continued, “The priests of the Oratory never stopped visiting the area hospitals and nursing homes throughout the entire pandemic and were responsible for anointing those dying with COVID in the area hospital. They also have helped several nonprofits in the area to provide outreach to the people of Red Bank and the surrounding area. This was all possible due to the leadership and stability provided by the Red Bank Oratory of St Philip Neri … The renaming is a visible and outward sign of the Oratory's commitment and dedication to the Red Bank community.”