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Obituary for Most Rev. Gaetano Thomas A. Donato

The Most Reverend Gaetano "Thomas" A. Donato, 74, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, entered into eternal life on Tuesday, August 25th at Community Medical Center, Toms River after a brief battle with Pancreatic Cancer. Born on October 1, 1940 in Jersey City, the son of the late Antonio and Rosa Donato, he was proudly raised in downtown Jersey City.

He was baptized at Holy Rosary Parish, Jersey City and attended Holy Rosary Elementary School. After completing high school at St. Michael High School in Jersey City, he entered the College Seminary at Seton Hall University, graduating in 1961. His spiritual and theological formation took place at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington. Bishop Donato was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Thomas A. Boland on May 29, 1965. He received his Masters of Divinity degree from Immaculate Conception Seminary. Having been raised at Holy Rosary Parish, he often admitted that the priests in the Italian-American church and the Filippini Sisters who taught in the school inspired him to become a priest some 50 years ago. He always referred lovingly to Holy Rosary as his home.

Bishop Donato’s parish assignments included St. John the Baptist, Hillsdale (1965-1973) and St. Vincent DePaul, Bayonne (1973-1988). He served as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Bayonne (1982-1988) and pastor of St. Paul Parish, Ramsey (1988-2001). After 35 years in priestly ministry, he went on a six-month sabbatical to attend the Institute for the Continuing Education of Clergy at the North American College in Rome. He was appointed pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Livingston (2001-2003) and Spiritual Director of Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University (2003-2004), He then served as pastor of St. Henry Parish, Bayonne (2004 - today).

As pastor of St. Henry Church, Bishop Donato undertook a major fundraising campaign for the preservation of the church. Started in June 2013 with an original goal of $800,000.00, the parish surpassed its goal and moved forward with much needed additional restoration work (currently preparing to point 3 sides of the church). He often spoke of his love and admiration for the parishioners of St. Henry’s as faith-filled people who always stepped up to any task or challenge placed before them. The success of this campaign further solidified his thoughts on their devotion to their parish.

St. Pope John Paul II named him a Prelate of Honor (with the title of Reverend Monsignor) in 1996, and he served as Episcopal Vicar of Bergen County West from 1998 until 2001. The Holy See announced the appointment of Monsignor Thomas A. Donato as Titular Bishop of Jamestown and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark on May 21, 2004. His episcopal ordination took place on August 4, 2004.

Bishop Donato was also Regional Director of Religious Education for Bergen County North, served three terms on the Archdiocesan Priests’ Personnel Board and was a member of several committees in the Offices of Catechetics and Divine Worship, and was the current Regional Bishop of Hudson County.

Bishop received many awards and honors over the past decade, including, among others: a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Saint Peter's University, Jersey City in 2011; Italian Man of the Year award from the Jersey City Columbus Day Parade in 2010; a Nubian Union Legend Honoree in 2013; and honoree of the Gratitude Gala of Sts. Peter & Paul in Hoboken, March 2015.

He embraced the call of the Lord, then and always throughout his life, and he lived the words of St. Pope John XXIII: "At my window a light will be burning. All may come in, the arms of a friend will always be waiting."

He is the cherished brother of; Mary, Rose, Costantino “Nino” (wife, Christine), John, and Robert Donato, beloved uncle of Anthony (wife, Donna) and Toni Ann (husband, Michael), and two grand nieces, Gianna and Nicole.

Reception of the Body will take place on Sunday, August 30th at 2:00 p.m. at St. Henry’s Church, 82 West 29th St., Bayonne, NJ. Public Visitation will then follow from 2:30 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. A Vigil Mass will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m.
On Monday, August 31st, Reception of the Body will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 89 Ridge St., Newark, NJ. Public Visitation will follow from 10:30 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2:00 p.m. Entombment will follow at Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, 340 Ridge Rd., North Arlington, NJ. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to: The Capital Campaign for the restoration of St. Henry Church, 82 West 29th St., Bayonne.

Funeral Services entrusted to the care of the Levandoski-Grillo Funeral Home, 44 Bay Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ 07003. For online condolences & memorials please visit:


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