Dcn Patrick Winbush, OSB, a member of Newark Abbey, will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, May 20 in New Jersey. He is one of three African-American Catholics being ordained this year in the United States.
The sacrament will be administered nextdoor to the abbey at St. Mary’s Catholic Church by Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, the nation’s African-American cardinal. He will be joined by Fr Augustine Curley, OSB, who has served as abbot of Newark Abbey since May 2022. The livestreamed Mass will begin at 10:30am ET.
Winbush, 42, who has served as sub-prior of the abbey for more than a decade, was ordained a transitional deacon last summer after serving for 21 years as a lay religious brother in the 166-year-old Benedictine community. A Newark native, he had first encountered the monks while a student at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth and entered formation after his freshman year of college.
He professed final vows in 2005 and has worked as an educator and administrator at the monks’ historic K-12 school, St. Benedict’s Prep, also located on the property of the abbey. He later served as principal of the former St Mary’s Elementary School on the campus from 2015 to 2017.
Currently the abbey’s vocations director, Winbush has also served in vocational capacities for the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, and Newark’s suffragan dioceses of Paterson and Metuchen. He was appointed the inaugural chair of the Archdiocese of Newark's Vocation Board for Religious Life in late 2019. He is a member of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) and the National Religious Vocation Conference.
Winbush is one of several African Americans to answer the call to a religious vocation from his home parish, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Newark, including twins Lynn Marie Ralph, SBS, and Patricia Ralph, SSJ, as well as Br Tyrone Davis, CFC. During Winbush’s time working for the Archdiocese of New York, he and Davis were both employed by the chancery, where Davis heads the Office of Black Catholics.
“My dream growing up was to become a priest or religious, and that dream came true,’ Winbush wrote in a column last month for Jersey Catholic, Newark’s archdiocesan newspaper.
“I was fortunate back then that there were a number of priests and religious in the schools that I attended. I was attracted to them by the way they carried themselves. They were kind, respectful, and tough when they needed to be.”
Winbush will return to Blessed Sacrament for his First Mass following ordination, on Sunday, May 21, at 9:30am. The homilist for the liturgy will be Fr Anthony Bozeman, SSJ, a past president of the NBCCC and current academic dean of St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C.
A reception will follow both the ordination and the First Mass, and priests and deacons planning to attend are asked to bring an alb and white stole.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.