One of only eight Oratorian houses currently established in the United States, the New Brunswick Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri was canonically erected by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II on September 8, 1998. However, the beginnings of the New Brunswick Oratory go back to 1986, when a group of clerics and laymen began praying together to discern a vocation to community life. In June of 1993, three priests and two seminarians, with the approval of Bishop Edward T. Hughes, began to live the Oratorian life at St. Bartholomew Church in East Brunswick, NJ.
In July of 1998, the members of the Oratory established their own house on the property of the Consolata Missionaries in Somerset, NJ., and the community was subsequently established as a Congregation of the Oratory of Pontifical Right by Pope John Paul II. Fr. Peter Cebulka was the founding Provost, a position he has held ever since, having been re-elected four times. In 2001, at the invitation of the late Bishop Vincent DePaul Breen, the Oratory took on the pastoral responsibility for the Catholic campus ministry apostolate at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, where Fr. Peter still serves as Chaplain.
In 2002, the first group of Secular Oratorians was enrolled. The care of the Secular Oratory, which today has nearly fifty members, is central to the mission of the Congregation to foster the laity in their vocation to holiness.
Four years later, Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski entrusted the care of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, New Brunswick, to the Oratory, with Fr. Tom Odorizzi serving as administrator and, since early 2007, pastor. After seven years residing in Somerset, the community moved to its current home at St. Peter’s in January 2006.
In 2010, Fr. Jeff Calia was ordained and joined Fr. Tom as Parochial Vicar at St. Peter’s. Later that year, the Oratory broadened its presence in New Brunswick when Fr. Kevin Kelly (ordained in 2006) became Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish, New Brunswick, working in conjunction with the diocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry to serve the large Spanish-speaking community there. This community, which remains centered at St. Joseph Church, is now part of the new Holy Family Parish.
Also as a result of the Renewing the Church in New Brunswick process, St. Peter’s and the Catholic Center at Rutgers have become, as of January 1, 2014, one spiritual family under the title of St. Peter the Apostle University and Community Parish. Fr. Tom continues as Pastor, with Fr. Jeff as Parochial Vicar. Fr. Peter continues to serve as Chaplain to the campus ministry apostolate.
On January 25, 2014, the Congregation welcomed John Fredy Triana Beltran, a native of Colombia, into the novitiate. Br. Fredy has been living in the United States for several years, and is a 2013 graduate of the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, NJ.
Mission Statement of the New Brunswick Congregation of the Oratory
Enlivened by the spirit of St. Philip Neri, pursuing the Lord’s invitation to personal holiness and daily conversion of heart through a common life rooted in prayer, charity, humility and joy, and inspired by a steadfast conviction in the dignity and value of the vocation of the laity in the church and in the world, the mission of the Metuchen Congregation of the Oratory is to foster the sound spiritual formation of the Catholic faithful, in particular the Secular Oratory, and to nurture their call to embrace a loving relationship with Christ in service to the Kingdom of God.