Feasts First Ward Heritage Tradition

Honoring a Local Representative of Christ: Rev. Thomas D. Nicastro

As a life-long Catholic, I’ve been blessed to have a few priests that played a significant role in my life. As a child attending Holy Family, it was Father Joseph Barbone who was there when I made my First Holy Communion. In college at Seton Hall University, it was Father Paul Holmes who had a special way of being a true teacher and guide to his students. So much so, I could think of no one else to celebrate my wedding to my husband of now 29 years. As an adult, I had the pleasure of meeting Msgr. Joseph Granato of St. Lucy’s in Newark. Most recently, it is the Very Rev. Thomas D. Nicastro, now of St. Mary’s in Nutley.

Father Nicastro is a true North Jersey guy with deep roots in the Italian communities of North Jersey. Even though he is now pastor of St. Mary’s, he still celebrates the Feast of St. Gerard in Newark, year after year.

Born in Newark, he was a parishioner of St. Francis Xavier Church and attended Essex Catholic High School. He then attended Seton Hall University, receiving a B.A. in modern languages. He completed his theological studies for the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1989, receiving Master of Divinity degree in Pastoral ministry from Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange. Father Nicastro was ordained a transitional deacon in 1989, and ordained to the sacred priesthood in 1990, for service in the Bridgeport Diocese.

Father Nicastro and Commissioner Leonard Luciano
Father Nicastro and Commissioner Leonard Luciano during the Italian Heritage Month celebration. (Source: jerseycatholic.com)

In 2003, Father Nicastro was sent to serve where his life began – in the Archdiocese of Newark, and in 2008 he was incardinated in the Archdiocese. In 2020, he became the administrator of St. Mary’s, Nutley and in 2021 was installed as the 14th Pastor of St. Mary’s.

Father Nicastro is a life-long devotee of St. Gerard and is a member of the St. Gerard Men’s Society. Like Msgr. Granato for the generations before, Father Nicastro is now the liturgical face for the Feast of St. Gerard.

This year, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners honored Father Nicastro at its annual Italian Heritage Month celebration for his distinguished service to not just the Italian American community, but the entire community.

I often hear “where are all the good priests?” Well, I am here to tell you Father Nicastro is one of the good ones. We are blessed to have him as part of our community.

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