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Fr. Abraham Orapankal Named Pastor At St. Matthias

Father Abraham Orapankal, who has served as interim Pastor at St. Matthias Church since 2018, has been named permanent Pastor.

The announcement was made March 13 by Bishop James F. Checchio of the Diocese of Metuchen.

Orapankal was named to the interim position following the resignation of Fr. Douglas Haefner, after financial irregularities were found in the church’s accounts. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has been investigating the issue since late 2018.

Fr. Abraham will be installed in a special ceremony at the church at 9:30 on March 29, according to a press release from the Diocese.

Fr. Abraham was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Kohima, India, in 1983, according to the release. He served in numerous ministries in India, including Pastor of Queen Mary Parish and Principal of Queen Mary High School in Mokokchung; Head Master of St. Xavier High School, and Rector and Dean of Studies at the Diocesan Minor Seminary in Jalukie; and Adjunct Professor of Theology at the Oriens Inter-diocesan Theological College in Shillong.

In 1994 he came to the United States to pursue a doctoral degree at Fordham University while ministering as Associate Pastor at St. Catharine’s Church in Blauvelt, NY, according to the release. After his PhD, he was asked to get a Certification in Spiritual Direction which he did in 2000-2001 from Shalem Ecumenical Institute, Bethesda, MD., while serving as Associate Pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Stony Point, NY.

He returned to India for two years in 2002 to become Professor of Theology and Spiritual Director to the seminarians at Oriens Inter-diocesan Theological College, according to the release. From 2004 to 2010 he served as a National Presenter and Retreat Director at RENEW International in Plainfield, NJ. He then ministered as Associate Pastor at St. Bartholomew Church in East Brunswick for two years. In 2012 he was appointed Pastor of St. John Neumann Church in Califon, where he remained for six years.

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