SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Fr. Paul A. McDonnell, OSJ, a West Pittston native and current provincial superior of the Oblates of Saint Joseph – USA province, will celebrate his 25th anniversary to the Holy Priesthood on Sunday, Aug. 7, with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 2 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church of St. Barbara’s Parish, 28 Memorial St., Exeter.
A public reception will immediately follow in the parish center and under the pavilion area. All are invited to attend and no reservations are required.
McDonnell, the son of Thomas and Shirley (Petrello) McDonnell, is a 1982 graduate of Wyoming Area School District. He immediately entered the seminary formation program of the Congregation of the Oblates of St. Joseph in Laflin, while attending King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1986.
He then went on to study in Italy for the next five years, from 1986 to 1991, where he served his novitiate year in Padua and then in Rome for theological studies. He attended the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), earning a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology, and then a master’s degree in pastoral theology at the Lateran University.
McDonnell made his perpetual vows as an Oblate of St. Joseph on Sept. 17, 1990, and shortly thereafter was ordained a transitional deacon at St. Joseph’s Church in Rome by the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, former Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United States and Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.
On Aug. 10, 1991, McDonnell was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in his native parish church of St. Anthony of Padua, Exeter, by the Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, D.D., former Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton and current Bishop of Richmond, Virginia.
Upon ordination, he served his first two years as vocation director for the Oblates of the Pennsylvania Province and in 1993 was assigned as assistant pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Pittston, under the pastorate of the late Rev. Paul J. Pavese, OSJ.
In 1997, he was appointed pastor, succeeding Father Pavese, a position he served until 2006. McDonnell also served his religious province in many leadership roles, especially as provincial superior from 2003 to 2010. From 2006 to 2012, he served as rector of the Oblates of St. Joseph Seminary, Laflin, where he also assisted pastors throughout the diocese with the celebration of Masses.
Called to temporarily assist the Oblates of St. Joseph of California in January 2013, he served as parish administrator of St. Joseph Marello Parish, Granite Bay (Diocese of Sacramento). It was at this time that the juridical merger occurred between the Oblates of St. Joseph of the Pennsylvania and California provinces, creating one U.S. province.
McDonnell was appointed by the Superior General in Rome to serve as the first provincial superior of the newly formed “Holy Spouses Province” (USA). He completed his first term of office from 2013 to 2016 and is now serving his second term (2016 to 2019). He resides at the provincial headquarters located in Santa Cruz, California, where he also serves as rector of the Shrine of St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer.
Most Rev. Richard Garcia, D.D., Bishop of Monterey recently appointed him to serve as the representative of religious order priests on the diocesan presbyteral council.