Just as a major league pitcher might shake off a few signs from his catcher, waiting for just the right one, so, too, did Michael A. Gentile, Jr. on his long road to the priesthood.
“I am a big Mets fan, and I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to intern with them in Flushing, Queens, during the final semester of college,” Gentile said. “This was an opportunity I had dreamed of for so long. However, the more I was there, the more I realized that my desires were deeper. I felt that there was something more than working for a sports team that God wanted from me.”[[In-content Ad]]
Born to Barbara and Michael A. Gentile, Sr. in The Bronx, N.Y., in 1975, Michael is one of the couple’s eight children. He attended that borough’s Holy Rosary School and Mount St. Michael Academy, and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, radio, television and film from Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1997.
The first sign for the priesthood occurred while young Michael attended grammar school. He recalled, “I always looked upon the priesthood as something really special… Service as an altar boy gave me a closer look into the life of a priest as I saw the work they did to help people in all situations in life.”
Gentile also credits the “sacrificial love” of his parents as a great influence.
A move to North Carolina after college and jobs in the airline industry proved unfulfilling, so Gentile entered a pre-seminary program in New York in 2001. “I had been finally courageous enough to see if my vocation was to be a priest,” he recalled, “but I was not there for very long and felt it was not the right time for me. I wasn’t totally ready to embrace fully the gift that God was giving me.”
Gentile eventually moved to New Jersey after a few years of chauffer driving for a job with Verizon Communications and joined Lawrenceville’s St. Ann Parish. He credits that family of faith and its Knights of Columbus council for his decision to reenter the seminary, this time for the Diocese of Trenton, in 2011.
“Ever since I first entered the vocations office I can say that a true sense of peace and belonging has been with me,” Gentile recalled. “It has been a wonderful journey for me and as I look back, I see that God was with me always. He was inviting me to answer this call, but he never forced it upon me, and that is what makes it so special.”
His large family of birth, too, has been supportive on his journey.
“They want what’s best for me, and they all realize that the peace I have in doing God’s will,” he said. The Gentiles will be among the first witnesses of him celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage.
“My first cousin just had a baby girl, and I am looking forward to have the opportunity to baptize her shortly after I am ordained a transitional deacon,” Gentile noted. “I will be serving as a deacon at my younger brother’s wedding Mass in June.”
“I look forward to bringing people closer to God through the sacraments. In the midst of an ever-changing world, I am encouraged that we have one constant, and that is Jesus Christ,” Gentile declared. “I look forward to participating in this eternal priesthood, for my own sanctification and for the sanctification of others.”
Gentile has served summers in St. Dominic Parish, Brick; St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, and assisted in St. James Parish in Red Bank on Tuesday afternoons this past year. He will return to St. Dominic as a deacon upon ordination.
Gentile has chosen Father Robert A. Quarato of the Archdiocese of New York as his vesting priest, who was pastor of Gentile’s childhood parish when he first entered the seminary in 2001.