Msgr. John Hart Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Ordination

Photos courtesy of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Parish

By Steve Sears

Msgr. John Hart celebrating Mass

Msgr. John Hart, current Pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Parish in Morristown, looks back on that special day in 1981. 

“I was ordained a priest on May 9, 1981 by Bishop (Frank J.) Rodimer. I was ordained at the Church of the Annunciation in Wayne, New Jersey, which is where I served as a deacon – I was ordained a deacon in 1980 – and that was Mother’s Day weekend.” He adds, “I think at the heart of it is a sense of gratitude to God,” Msgr. Hart says. “What motivated me was gratitude to God for having a wonderful mom and dad, and a wonderful family, and it was out of gratitude to God that I wanted to be a priest. I thank God for everything that God has given me. It begins and ends with gratitude.”

Msgr. Hart’s first Mass was celebrated at Saint Phillips Parish in Clifton, with a follow up dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall. “It’s hard to believe,” he says. “Looking at it now, it’s gone by quickly. I just can’t really believe it. God has been very, very good to me, and I’ve been blessed.”

As Msgr. Hart’s 40th year as a priest comes to a close, a celebratory Mass and reception was held on May 15, 2022 at Assumption Parish.

Msgr. Hart was born in Brooklyn and first attended Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in that borough. A nun, the teacher of his third grade class, said, “God is calling some of you to the priesthood and religious life, and if God calls, you should answer.” He pondered her words. “I liked going to church at Saint Michael’s, and I wanted to be a priest because I wanted to help people. And that’s what I thought at that time. And then I just kept on thinking about it as I grew up.”

Msgr. Hart moved with his family to Clifton, New Jersey when he was in the fifth grade, and he worshipped at Saint Phillips Parish. In the parish bulletin, he noticed an ad for Neumann Preparatory School in Wayne. His parents, sensing his desire to serve God, encouraged him to enroll there. After a great high school experience, he applied to Seton Hall University and attended its seminary, and completed his studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington.

Msgr. Hart was first assigned to Corpus Christi Parish in Chatham, and in 1987 was also named to the Diocesan Tribunal, on which he still serves. After Corpus Christi Parish, he served at both Saint Ann’s and Saint Christopher’s parishes in Parsippany, studied Canon Law in Ottawa, Canada from 1988 – 1990, served as Bishop Rodimer’s Secretary from 1990 – 1996, then served as pastor at Saint Cecilia’s Parish in Rockaway for 13 years, and while there he was named Administrator of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in the same town. He also served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Paterson from 1999 – 2005, and was a member of the Diocesan Review Board. He was afterwards appointed Chairperson of the Presbyteral Council and Chair of the Diocesan Theological Commission, has been pastor of Assumption Parish since 2009, and since September, 2012 has been Diocesan Director of Personnel.  

Msgr. John Hart’s life as a priest has been one of wonderful service to God and his flock. He wouldn’t have it any other way. “As a priest, I’m very, very blessed to serve God’s people. I would do it all over again, and I’m grateful to God.”

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