From staff reports
In the weeks leading up to their priesthood, the four men who will be ordained June 3 agreed that as they follow in the footsteps of the Lord, supporting each another has been – and will continue to be – key.
“It seems important that we’re together as brothers in service,” Deacon Michael Kennedy said during the weeklong priesthood retreat May 22-26 held in St. Joseph by the Sea spiritual center, South Mantoloking, for the four transitional deacons who will be ordained into the priesthood by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., during a 10 a.m. Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.
Though the priest candidates – Deacon Kennedy, Deacon Roy Aris B. Ballacillo, Deacon Thomas John Barry Jr. and Deacon Michael A. Gentile, Jr. – have been serving as transitional deacons across the Diocese for the past year, they are hopeful that they will make time to continue that camaraderie and develop that supportive rapport with all of their brothers in Christ across the Diocese’s four counties.
“We’re like a family,” Deacon Barry said. “And isn’t that the story of the Bible – being a family?”
In advance of their priestly ordinations, following are brief profiles of the four priest candidates. Check back to TrentonMonitor.com June 3 for full coverage of the ordination and in the coming weeks for a full story on the weeklong priesthood retreat.
Deacon Roy Aris B. Ballacillo, 31, was born in October 1985 and grew up in the province of Abra, in the northwest Philippines. He attended Holy Cross School in Lagangilang, Abra, and entered St. Joseph Seminary High School, Bangued, Abra, at age 12.
Deacon Ballacillo attended Christ the King Seminary, Manila, receiving a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. After spending two years working for the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he decided to re-enter seminary life, and was invited to apply to the Diocese of Trenton’s formation program.
Deacon Ballacillo has spent the last four years at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, earning a master’s degree in theology and master’s degree in divinity.
Deacon Thomas John Barry, Jr., 41, was born in July 1975 in Long Branch and grew up in Hazlet. He attended Lillian Drive and Union Ave. Middle School, and Raritan High School, both in Hazlet.
Upon graduation he attended Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, earning an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 1996. He went on to Rutgers College at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, receiving a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice in 1998.
Deacon Barry entered Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University, South Orange, in 2011, where he has pursued a master’s degree in systematic theology and master’s degree in divinity.
Deacon Michael A. Gentile, Jr., 41, was born in July 1975 in The Bronx, N.Y. He attended that borough’s Holy Rosary School and Mount St. Michael Academy. He then entered Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., earning a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, radio, television and film in 1997.
After a move to North Carolina and jobs in the airline industry proved unfulfilling, Deacon Gentile entered a pre-seminary program in New York in 2001. He eventually moved to New Jersey, joined St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville, and resumed studies for the priesthood, only this time in Immaculate Conception Seminary, South Orange, where he would prepare to become a priest for the Trenton Diocese.
Deacon Michael Kennedy, 47, was born in September 1969 in Philadelphia. He attended Manasquan Elementary School and High School, followed by University of New Mexico, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1998.
Deacon Kennedy returned to New Jersey, and after a break of several years, he studied at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, earning a master’s degree in English in 2015. He then began to consider a call to the priesthood, entering St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, for the Trenton Diocese in 2011; subsequently he earned a bachelor’s degree in theology and has been pursuing a master’s degree in divinity.