‘Demonstrating Our Unity Amidst Our Diversity’

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

PATERSON, N.J. — On Sept. 16, the last Sunday of summer, Bishop Arthur Seratelli formally installed Christopher VanHaight, OFM, as pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish. Christopher, who had been serving as pastor for several months, replaced Daniel Grigassy, OFM, who left the parish in June to accept an appointment to the faculty of St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md.

The Massachusetts native, who was ordained in 2008, said he enjoyed the festive day and the opportunity provided to celebrate the parish’s unity.

“One of the most important aspects of being a pastor is bringing people together,” Christopher said. “That is why I wanted to be formally installed as pastor — to bring the parish community together, gathered around the bishop, the provincial minister and my brother friars.”

The occasion was “an opportunity to demonstrate our unity amidst our diversity,” Chris said. “Being greeted and blessed by so many different faith-filled people was a true gift to me. Then, it was time for our annual potluck parish picnic, which is always a wonderful event — great food, children laughing, people having a good time.”

In addition to Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, several other friars and local clergy participated in the celebration. They were Stephen DeWitt, OFM, and Robert Norton, OFM, both stationed at St. Bonaventure as parochial vicars, Fr. Frank Agresti from neighboring Our Lady of Pompeii Parish, who concelebrated, and the bishop’s secretary, Fr. Kevin Corcoran, master of ceremonies.

“All in all, it was a great day,” said Chris, who earlier this year traveled to Mexico to participate in the Order’s Chapter for Young Friars.

Photos of the installation Mass can be found on the St. Bonaventure Parish Flickr page as well as in the Sept. 20 issue of The Beacon, the newspaper of the Diocese of Paterson, which featured the installation on its front page.

In addition to Daniel, previous pastors of the nearly 140-year-old parish include the late John Piccione, OFM,Alvin Faddish, OFM, and Severin Brady, OFM, along with Richard Biasiotto, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y. andJoseph Hertel, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Fla.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.