Long Valley’s Saint Luke Parish Celebrates Father Owen Moran’s 30 Years in the Priesthood

Photo credit: Saint Luke Parish, Long Valley, NJ


By Steve Sears

Father Owen Moran, pastor since 2019 of Saint Luke Roman Catholic Parish in Long Valley, in December celebrated his 30th anniversary as a priest.

“I’m Irish, and I was born in England,” says Fr. Moran regarding his background. “My mom and dad were both Irish. I was born in London in 1957. We moved to Scotland when I was born, and then we moved back to Ireland to Limerick City when I was five. My dad worked in Shannon Airport, and my mom had been a teacher and then became a homemaker. I spent my whole childhood in Limerick City until I went away to boarding school at 15.”

Fr. Moran entered the seminary in Waterford, Ireland in 1985, and was ordained by Bishop Frank Rodimer for the Diocese of Paterson in on December 14, 1991. He was immediately appointed to Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Parish in Chatham as a parochial vicar, and served there from 1991 until 2003. His next service was as pastor of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in East Hanover, until his appointment to Saint Luke.

“My staff threw me a surprise party for my anniversary, and people from Saint Luke, Saint Rose, and Saint Patrick came to celebrate my priesthood,” Fr. Moran happily says of the get together following Mass on December 11, 2021. “Saint Luke is a wonderful parish family of people comprised of different ages. Our parish is a place of love, where many people gather together to feel the love of Christ as proclaimed in Scripture and received in the Holy Eucharist. It’s a very welcoming place where we welcome people to our parish.” Saint Luke parishioners actually come from many areas in addition to Long Valley. Some residents of Califon, Tewksbury, Lebanon, and Chester are members of Fr. Moran’s “flock.” “What draws people here, I believe, is the kindness of the people, and the realization that all are welcome to this place.”

Fr. Moran is quick to recognize his Saint Luke team. “I’m blessed to be supported by a wonderful staff,” he says. “My DRE (Director of Religious Education), Maureen Murtagh, and Nina Dorlon, my wonderful Youth Minister, and a loyal and dedicated staff. We have many volunteers who are all proactive self starters, and really get the job done. Our focus during these days is to help people to realize they’re not alone, that God is with them, and that we represent God’s love in our parish and beyond.”

Fr. Moran and Saint Luke Parish, especially during the ongoing pandemic, have had and still do have challenges. “Our challenge these days are to keep everybody safe while continuing to have Mass,” he says, “and to offer classes for CCD and religious education. We have a growing pre-kindergarten, which is comprised of children PreK – 3 and PreK – 4. That’s run by Jeannie Soltes, and that’s continuing to grow.” Moran sees his parish as one of evangelization and education. “Educating young people into who God calls them to be, to the knowledge of their faith and to the ability to make a difference. We have a wonderful group which is called the Hands of Saint Luke, founded by Dr. Stephen Deehan, and that is run by many parishioners, and we have a direct outreach to Paterson city, where we have Catholic Charities. We reach out basically to the working poor, and help them with money, nonperishables, clothes, and support.”

Since his 1991 ordination, Fr. Moran’s priestly mission has not changed. “My mission and priesthood,” he confirms, “has been to celebrate Mass with joy, and with a great sense of welcome; to foster and encourage volunteers who see our mission as one of being able to prepare young Catholics for the future; and to welcome back Catholics who haven’t been practicing, and welcome those who are not Catholic to the parish.” He pauses briefly, then continues. “People want good news, and for those of us who have the privilege of having a deep faith, our responsibility is to reach out, touch somebody with the love of Christ and bring them in.” He then adds, “I’m blessed by God, as a priest of 30 years to love what I do, and to have loved my three parishes. I’ve been particularly blessed to have been called to serve the parish family of Saint Luke, and look forward to many, many years working together to bring God’s message to many.”

Saint Luke Parish is located at 265 West Mill Road in Long Valley. Visit www.stlukeparishlv.com.

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