Cardinal Tobin Appoints New Episcopal Vicar of Education for the Archdiocese of Newark

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., archbishop of Newark, is pleased to announce the appointment of Fr. Stephen J. Fichter, Ph.D., Pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Wyckoff, New Jersey, as the new Episcopal Vicar of Education of the Archdiocese of Newark, effective July 1, 2022.  

In his new role, Fr. Fichter will support the Archbishop in the exercise of his responsibilities and oversight of all areas relating to Catholic schools, education, and faith formation within the Archdiocese of Newark, including oversight of 74 primary and secondary Catholic schools, campus ministry, and young adult and youth faith formation programs and services. Fr. Fichter will continue as pastor at St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish.

In making the announcement, Cardinal Tobin expressed his gratitude to Fr. Fichter for his willingness to accept the appointment.

“I am deeply grateful to Fr. Stephen for his willingness to undertake this new service. He is a clear champion of the teaching ministry of our Church, and will bring his academic formation, broad pastoral experience and proven creativity to this vital new role. He will help this Archdiocese better respond to the command of Jesus to teach in His name (cf. Mt. 28, 19-20).”

Fr. Fichter responded enthusiastically to the appointment, adding “I was both surprised and honored to be asked by Cardinal Tobin to take on this new assignment, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve the larger community of our archdiocese. I look forward to working alongside the thousands of amazing women and men among us who bring Christ’s light into all our educational programs.”

Fr. Fichter, who was ordained a priest in 2000, earned his Licentiate in Philosophy (Ph.L.) and Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, and a Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology from Rutgers University. While studying in Europe for almost twelve years, he learned to speak Spanish and Italian, and held various administrative posts including chief financial officer and vice rector of two seminaries.

Previously, Fr. Fichter served as parochial vicar of St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Saddle River, where he founded his first youth group called FOCUS (Friends of Christ United in Service), and as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Haworth, where he founded his next youth group, VITA (Veritas, Integritas, Tolerantia, Amicitia).  Between both youth groups, he led mission trips to Africa, Alaska, Haiti, New Orleans, South Dakota, and other locations.  

For several years, he also taught the Ministry of Leadership course for fourth-year seminarians at Immaculate Conception Seminary.  During the 2016-2017 academic year, he was the visiting scholar in the Graduate School for Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University.

Following in the footsteps of his well-known granduncle, the Jesuit scholar, Rev. Joseph H. Fichter, Fr. Fichter’s research interests cover issues related to the sociology of religion, especially those that focus on clergy.

While serving in the parishes of Bergen County, Fr. Fichter has been a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University specializing in clergy research and placing his sociological skills at the service of the Catholic Church and the American bishops. In coordination with the National Organization for Continuing Education for Roman Catholic Clergy (NOCERCC), he has worked on many Cultivating Unity projects for dioceses throughout the United States.

He is co-author of the book, Same Call, Different Men: The Evolution of the Priesthood since Vatican II, published by Liturgical Press. In addition, he is the lead author of the book, Catholic Bishops in the United States: Church Leadership in the Third Millennium, published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

In addition to his academic work, Fr. Fichter has combined his creative talents and catechetical experience to develop the iTunes app, PeaceQuest, a 3-D immersive prayer experience based on St. Ignatius’s “composition of place” method of meditation.  He also co-wrote and co-produced the film, Trinity’s Triumph, to be released later this year, which provides a behind-the-scenes view of priestly formation and the real-life challenges in the commitment to serving God in the Church today.

Monsignor Thomas J. McDade, who has served as the Vicar for Education and Interim Superintendent of Schools of the Archdiocese of Newark since July 2020, will resume his interrupted retirement at the end of June.