I’d like to share with you a sketch of my life, and the joy I find in being pastor of the Matawan United Methodist Church.
I am the youngest three sons. We were raised in Kearny, New Jersey by a loving and faith-filled Mom and Dad. When I was four, I had unique experience of gratitude for the gift of life as I gazed at my face in a mirror. I studied piano, organ and guitar, and was later awakened to a desire to praise God through sacred music.
After graduating from Xavier High School in Manhattan, I entered the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order of priests and brothers. There followed twelve years of preparation for ordination through novitiate, college and graduate school, a period of teaching high school and theology. I was ordained in 1972.
The next twelve years found me serving in a variety of ministries, first as a hospital chaplain in Kenmore, New York, then as campus minister at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. As part of a six-month period of spiritual renewal, for four months I lived in anonymity on Skid Row with another Jesuit. This experience resulted in a deeper surrender and trust in the providence of God and compassion for God’s little ones. After studying Spanish in Cochabamba, Bolivia in the summer of 1977, there followed ministry in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Colegio and Parish of San Ignacio. Later, I became pastor of The Church of the Nativity on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
A change in the direction of my life came when I married Georgina Pando in 1984. While working in the field of counseling those afflicted with addiction and their families, God’s grace led us to The United Methodist Church. In 1987 my ordination was recognized and was welcomed as an elder, serving in eight churches in New Jersey.
In March, 2007, I published The Bible Through the Seasons: a Three Year Journey with the Bible. This is a unique approach to daily Bible reading with a pace both relaxed and varied. Each day of the week is dedicated to its own part of the Bible. One single passage is the focus for each day, introduced by a “Firestarter,” a one-minute message to help ignite the creative imagination of the reader. Check out the link on this web site.
In August, 2007 my wife and I had an extraordinary experience of being part of a global mission team to Uganda through Watoto Child Care Ministries. We helped build a home for a teacher in one of the three villages where the children of that blessed ministry reside. We had the opportunity to visit at length with Bishop Daniel Wandabula, whose Episcopal area is the largest in our denomination, comprising the countries of Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Our meeting was filled with the Spirit. We returned in February, 2012.
My wife Gina is a happily retired Local Pastor who served churches in Keyport, Minotola, and Vineland. For the past 41 years, she has been active in ministry as a liturgist, an enthusiast of creative worship, and a published translator of poetry and sacred music. She has been employed in the mental health field for 30 years, specializing in Alcohol and Drug treatment and prevention.
All of my family of origin is in heaven now. When I officiate at memorial services and share something of my story, I tell those gathered, “I spend a good bit of time in heaven!”
Gina and I are blessed with four children, seven grandchildren and two “adopted” sons, Gilbert and Jackson from Uganda.
With blessings and love,
Pastor Nick and Gina