Chaplain with a heart for education
Northern New Jersey chaplain continues to inspire Garden State Legatus members . . .
Fr. Anthony J. Mastroeni
Northern New Jersey Chapter
Ordained in 1972, Fr. Anthony Mastroeni earned degrees that have aided a decades-long career teaching in Catholic colleges: a doctorate in moral theology, juris doctor in civil law and a mmpus of Christendom College, where he remains on the faculty. In addition to his parish duties, he is a retreat master, and he recently returned from giving a retreat in Florence, Italy.aster’s degree in psychology. He also founded the Rome ca
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
The first sign of a vocation to the priesthood is connected with my maternal grandmother. Often when I was very small she would say in Italian, “Some day you will be a priest,” to which I would defiantly respond, “No. I want to be a fireman.”
She died when I was seven, and it was like losing a mother. Months later I made my first Confession and Holy Communion and remember being deeply affected by it all. Not long after that I started speaking about wanting to be a priest. At 16, after completing high school, I entered the college seminary. Eight years later I was ordained a priest. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but the good Lord and his mother have always been at my side helping me to land on my feet.
How did you come to Legatus?
I was first introduced during my teaching years at Franciscan University of Steubenville when Tom Monaghan was on the board of trustees. Later on, when friends of mine had already joined what was then the Morris County Chapter and the chaplaincy became vacant, they asked me to consider it. I am so happy I did.
What impact has Legatus had on your diocese?
The Legates have had an immeasurable influence in these parts. Wherever you look, there seems to be someone associated with Legatus in anything that’s moving in the right direction. However, their real influence is to be seen in their professional lives, where they strive to live the social demands of the Gospel. And most especially it’s seen in so many faithful, fruitful marriages — and in the education and formation of their children and grandchildren. It’s here that they do the “work” of 3,000 but make the noise of three, as St. Josemaría Escrivá would say.
How would you like to see the chapter move forward?
The chapter is growing. However, it’s our hope that it grows so much as to necessitate the formation of other chapters. Although the challenge for scheduling is daunting for people whose lives are already so full, I would like to explore the possibilities for more formation in the future. To start with, perhaps we could do a weekend retreat or a pilgrimage to some of the famous shrines in Europe.
Can you recommend any devotions to help Legates fulfill their role as Christian witnesses?
First, try to attend Mass daily or at least a few times during the work week. Then frequent Confession and worthy reception of Holy Communion. Praying the rosary either on the way to or from work — or better still, with the entire family immediately after supper. And at least 15 minutes of mental prayer or meditation on the Gospels each day. If anyone with a busy schedule can be faithful to this much, that person is well on the way to living a deep interior life.
I’ve come to believe that worldly success is often overrated and almost always fleeting. Real success comes not from titles or prestigious positions of influence or responsibilities. These are simply means to an end. And the end is to surrender one’s heart so that finally it is open, pierced, wounded, and broken by love. That’s how Christ will recognize us in the end and call us home to the Father.