In the Footsteps of St. Philip Neri

Community turns out to celebrate establishment of Red Bank Oratory

July 12, 2024 at 10:06 a.m.
The priests, brothers and novices of the Red Bank Oratory of St. Philip Neri pose for a photo after the Mass with Bishop O'Connell and Oratory of St. Philip Neri officials. From left are, Brother Daniel Bower, C.O.; Brother Donald Ronning, C.O., secretary of the Oratory; Brother James Bonanno, novice; Father Alberto Tamayo, C.O., Oratory provost and pastor of the Oratory Church of St. Anthony of Padua; Bishop O'Connell; Father Marco Guillen, delegate of the Apostolic See; Father Michele Nicolis, C.O., procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory; Father Nicholas Dolan, C.O., Oratory vicar and parochial vicar of the Oratory Church of St. Anthony of Padua; Brother Zachary Holland, novice, and Brother Anthony Gaudino, novice. MIke Ehrmann photo
The priests, brothers and novices of the Red Bank Oratory of St. Philip Neri pose for a photo after the Mass with Bishop O'Connell and Oratory of St. Philip Neri officials. From left are, Brother Daniel Bower, C.O.; Brother Donald Ronning, C.O., secretary of the Oratory; Brother James Bonanno, novice; Father Alberto Tamayo, C.O., Oratory provost and pastor of the Oratory Church of St. Anthony of Padua; Bishop O'Connell; Father Marco Guillen, delegate of the Apostolic See; Father Michele Nicolis, C.O., procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory; Father Nicholas Dolan, C.O., Oratory vicar and parochial vicar of the Oratory Church of St. Anthony of Padua; Brother Zachary Holland, novice, and Brother Anthony Gaudino, novice. MIke Ehrmann photo

By MARY STADNYK
Associate Editor

UPDATED: July 12, 2024

On the morning of July 7, more than 800 people gathered in and around the small church of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Red Bank for an extraordinary celebration: a Mass commemorating the canonical establishment of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, the first of its kind in the Diocese of Trenton.

PHOTO GALLERY: Establishment of Red Bank Oratory celebrated with Mass

The Mass of Thanksgiving was held three months to the day that the decree approving and canonically establishing the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in St. Anthony of Padua Parish as a Congregation of Pontifical Right was signed at the Vatican on April 19.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who served as principal celebrant and homilist, reflected on what has been a decade-long journey undertaken by the priests of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. He credited, in particular, the dedicated leadership of Father Alberto Tamayo, C.O., Oratory provost and pastor of what is now called the Oratory Church of St. Anthony of Padua.

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton . . . I have made this parish the Oratory’s home. With the approval and petition and blessing of their superiors in Rome, today, the Red Bank Oratory – by decree of our Holy Father, Pope Francis – is formally and permanently established in this Diocese,” Bishop O’Connell proclaimed in his homily.

Making History

The historic nature of the event was memorialized just before the Mass when Bishop O’Connell and Terry Ginther, diocesan chancellor, signed the official decree that declared the establishment of the Oratory.  

Representatives from the Oratory in Rome, Father Marco Guillen, C.O., apostolic delegate, and Father Michele Nicolis, procurator general, lent their official presence  to the landmark celebration. After Communion, Father Nicolis read the decree from the Holy See and then presented it to Father Tamayo along with a relic of St. Philip Neri.

The process to establish the Oratory officially began in September, 2015 and on May 29, 2016, the Bishop celebrated Mass in St. Anthony of Padua Church during which he signed a canonical decree and Letters of Agreement establishing the relationship between the Oratory and the Diocese. The decree and letters also established St. Anthony of Padua Church as the church of the Oratory in perpetuity and permanently connected the parish of St. Anthony of Padua with the Oratory upon canonical erection by the Holy See.

Celebrating Mass with the community in 2016, Bishop O’Connell said, “Because of the special life of these … good men, as members of the Oratory, hopefully God’s grace will be even more apparent – nourishing you, the parish.”

A Community Celebrates

Parishioners, well-wishers, clergy and Oratorian officials all came out to witness and celebrate the inaugural chapter in the story of the Diocese’s Oratory of St. Philip Neri.

The 400-seat church was filled beyond capacity, while more than 200 individuals watched a livestream of the Mass in auxiliary spaces. Several hundred more people gathered outside in the extreme heat to listen via loudspeaker.  

“They’re here and they’re happy,” Father Tamayo said.

Concelebrating the Mass along with Father Tamayo were the priests of the Red Bank Oratory, as priests of the Diocese of Trenton and those from Oratories in New York and Washington.

In his homily, the Bishop said the day marked the “fruit and fulfilment of 10 years of prayer and discernment and desire for Christ; a time when love has found entrance into the hearts of a small group of clergy and brothers in this parish who have lived and prayed and worked together as a community after the spirit and rule of St. Philip Neri and his first Oratorians in Rome.”

The Bishop recounted that St. Philip Neri and the Oratorians established their Oratory in 1575 to be a place of prayer from which experience of daily communion with God and fraternity, the Gospel of Christ was proclaimed and the charity of Christ was shared with the neighboring people of God who looked to them for inspiration and encouraging, for preaching the Word of God and the Sacraments … and more.

Bishop O’Connell shared that through his own reading and research during the past 10 years, he has come to “know and to love St. Philip Neri.”

“I have visited and prayed at his tomb in Rome, but (my affinity has come) even more through what I have seen and experienced through this community here in Red Bank,” the Bishop said.

“Let us pray together that the Oratory of Red Bank will flourish and grow, radiating the joy for which St. Philip Neri was always known, and leading all who come here to find the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Steve Cocco, a parishioner for nine years and member of the Secular Oratory, was among those who joyfully expressed what the Oratory’s establishment has meant for the Red Bank faith community.

During the reception after the Mass, he reflected on the history of St. Anthony of Padua Parish as a home for Catholic immigrant groups.  The parish, he said, was initially founded to serve the Italian immigrant population and over the years it has become a faith home to the area’s growing Mexican Catholic population as well as the Anglo community.

“Today, there is a good blend of all populations” who attend the parish in terms of ages and nationalities, he said, adding that “they are all very devout in their faith.

“It’s a great community,” Cocco added, and now it’s great to know that the priests and brothers who are here at the Oratory “will be here forever …they made a lifelong commitment to this community.”


Father Michele Nicolis, C.O., procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory, holds up the decree from Pope Francis that formally establishes the Red Bank Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Mike Ehrmann photo  Related Stories:

To read Bishop O'Connell's homily from the Mass of Thanksgiving, click here.

 Red Bank Oratory receives canonical approval from Vatican

Find out more about the Oratory of St. Philip Neri:

-- History and timeline of the Red Bank Oratory

-- How do the Oratorians minister in the Red Bank community?

-- What does the Church say about the formation of Oratories and what is the Oratory of St. Philip Neri all about?



Related Stories

UPDATED: July 12, 2024

On the morning of July 7, more than 800 people gathered in and around the small church of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Red Bank for an extraordinary celebration: a Mass commemorating the canonical establishment of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, the first of its kind in the Diocese of Trenton.

PHOTO GALLERY: Establishment of Red Bank Oratory celebrated with Mass

The Mass of Thanksgiving was held three months to the day that the decree approving and canonically establishing the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in St. Anthony of Padua Parish as a Congregation of Pontifical Right was signed at the Vatican on April 19.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who served as principal celebrant and homilist, reflected on what has been a decade-long journey undertaken by the priests of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. He credited, in particular, the dedicated leadership of Father Alberto Tamayo, C.O., Oratory provost and pastor of what is now called the Oratory Church of St. Anthony of Padua.

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton . . . I have made this parish the Oratory’s home. With the approval and petition and blessing of their superiors in Rome, today, the Red Bank Oratory – by decree of our Holy Father, Pope Francis – is formally and permanently established in this Diocese,” Bishop O’Connell proclaimed in his homily.

Making History

The historic nature of the event was memorialized just before the Mass when Bishop O’Connell and Terry Ginther, diocesan chancellor, signed the official decree that declared the establishment of the Oratory.  

Representatives from the Oratory in Rome, Father Marco Guillen, C.O., apostolic delegate, and Father Michele Nicolis, procurator general, lent their official presence  to the landmark celebration. After Communion, Father Nicolis read the decree from the Holy See and then presented it to Father Tamayo along with a relic of St. Philip Neri.

The process to establish the Oratory officially began in September, 2015 and on May 29, 2016, the Bishop celebrated Mass in St. Anthony of Padua Church during which he signed a canonical decree and Letters of Agreement establishing the relationship between the Oratory and the Diocese. The decree and letters also established St. Anthony of Padua Church as the church of the Oratory in perpetuity and permanently connected the parish of St. Anthony of Padua with the Oratory upon canonical erection by the Holy See.

Celebrating Mass with the community in 2016, Bishop O’Connell said, “Because of the special life of these … good men, as members of the Oratory, hopefully God’s grace will be even more apparent – nourishing you, the parish.”

A Community Celebrates

Parishioners, well-wishers, clergy and Oratorian officials all came out to witness and celebrate the inaugural chapter in the story of the Diocese’s Oratory of St. Philip Neri.

The 400-seat church was filled beyond capacity, while more than 200 individuals watched a livestream of the Mass in auxiliary spaces. Several hundred more people gathered outside in the extreme heat to listen via loudspeaker.  

“They’re here and they’re happy,” Father Tamayo said.

Concelebrating the Mass along with Father Tamayo were the priests of the Red Bank Oratory, as priests of the Diocese of Trenton and those from Oratories in New York and Washington.

In his homily, the Bishop said the day marked the “fruit and fulfilment of 10 years of prayer and discernment and desire for Christ; a time when love has found entrance into the hearts of a small group of clergy and brothers in this parish who have lived and prayed and worked together as a community after the spirit and rule of St. Philip Neri and his first Oratorians in Rome.”

The Bishop recounted that St. Philip Neri and the Oratorians established their Oratory in 1575 to be a place of prayer from which experience of daily communion with God and fraternity, the Gospel of Christ was proclaimed and the charity of Christ was shared with the neighboring people of God who looked to them for inspiration and encouraging, for preaching the Word of God and the Sacraments … and more.

Bishop O’Connell shared that through his own reading and research during the past 10 years, he has come to “know and to love St. Philip Neri.”

“I have visited and prayed at his tomb in Rome, but (my affinity has come) even more through what I have seen and experienced through this community here in Red Bank,” the Bishop said.

“Let us pray together that the Oratory of Red Bank will flourish and grow, radiating the joy for which St. Philip Neri was always known, and leading all who come here to find the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Steve Cocco, a parishioner for nine years and member of the Secular Oratory, was among those who joyfully expressed what the Oratory’s establishment has meant for the Red Bank faith community.

During the reception after the Mass, he reflected on the history of St. Anthony of Padua Parish as a home for Catholic immigrant groups.  The parish, he said, was initially founded to serve the Italian immigrant population and over the years it has become a faith home to the area’s growing Mexican Catholic population as well as the Anglo community.

“Today, there is a good blend of all populations” who attend the parish in terms of ages and nationalities, he said, adding that “they are all very devout in their faith.

“It’s a great community,” Cocco added, and now it’s great to know that the priests and brothers who are here at the Oratory “will be here forever …they made a lifelong commitment to this community.”


Father Michele Nicolis, C.O., procurator general of the Confederation of the Oratory, holds up the decree from Pope Francis that formally establishes the Red Bank Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Mike Ehrmann photo  Related Stories:

To read Bishop O'Connell's homily from the Mass of Thanksgiving, click here.

 Red Bank Oratory receives canonical approval from Vatican

Find out more about the Oratory of St. Philip Neri:

-- History and timeline of the Red Bank Oratory

-- How do the Oratorians minister in the Red Bank community?

-- What does the Church say about the formation of Oratories and what is the Oratory of St. Philip Neri all about?


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