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The Monks

The current monastic community


Standing, front row, left to right: Father Luke, Father Philip, Prior Augustine, Abbot Melvin, Brother Patrick, Brother Thomas Aquinas.

Standing, back row, left to right: Brother Asiel Maria, Brother Simon Peter, Father Albert, Father Edwin, Father Maynard, Father Francis, Brother Maximilian.






Abbot Melvin J. Valvano, O.S.B.

Abbot Melvin has been the spiritual leader of Newark Abbey since 1973. He is a 1956 graduate of St. Benedict's Prep. Hew also serves as president of our prep school, St. Benedict's Prep. From 1989 to 2001, he served as president of the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine Monasteries, to which our monastery belongs. 

Father Augustine J. Curley, O.S.B., Prior

Fr. Augustine Curley has been a Benedictine monk of Newark Abbey since 1983. He was a student at St. Benedict's Prep in 1972 when it "suspended operations." After spending a year at St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, he matriculated at Assumption College, where he double majored in philosophy and politics. He then pursued a Ph.D. in philosophy at Boston College. After seminary studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary of Seton Hall University. he was ordained in 1988.   

Father Augustine serves the community as Prior, as well as abbey librarian and archivist. He came to the monastery after several years of graduate studies, and finished a Ph.D. in philosophy after entering the monastery. He was in the Class of 1974 of St. Benedict's Prep.

Brother Patrick Winbush, O.S.B., Subprior


A Newark native, Brother Patrick got to know us through Father Edwin, who was a week-end assistant at his parish, Blessed Sacrament. He serves the community as Sub-Prior and Vocation Director.


Father Albert Holtz, O.S.B., Formation Director


Fr. Albert has served the community for many years as Director of Formation. He teaches religion in St. Benedict's Prep, and has several books of spirituality to his credit. His blog can be found at downtownmonks.blogspot.com. 

Father Maynard Nagengast, O.S.B.


Fr. Maynard came to know the Benedictines through Fr. Lucien Donnelly. For many years he taught art in St. Benedict's Prep. Although retired from teaching, he keeps busy by painting and caring for the abbey garden.

Father Edwin Leahy, O.S.B.

Fr. Edwin has served as Headmaster of St. Benedict's Prep since its reopening in 1973. 


Father Philip Waters, O.S.B.

Fr. Philip is rector of the abbey church, where the faith community of St. Mary's meets. He also teaches Latin in St. Benedict's Prep, and drives the school bus whenever his services are needed.

Father Luke Edelen, O.S.B.

Fr. Luke is the Master of Ceremonies for the monastery. He is also the Chancellor for the Syriac Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance, and teaches Latin in St. Benedict's Prep.


Father Francis Flood, O.S.B.

Since transferring his vows to Newark Abbey a number of years ago, Fr. Francis has served the community as infirmarian and procurator. With a degree in canon law, he is sometimes called upon to offer an opinion on an issue that the community needs to decide.


Brother Maximilian Buonocore, O.S.B.

Br. Maximilian has served the community as guest master and kitchen master, and has served as librarian of St. Benedict's Prep. Currently he is studying at Immaculate Conception Seminary, and hopes to be ordained a priest next year.


Brother Thomas Aquinas Hall, O.S.B.

An alumnus of St. Benedict's Prep, Br. Thomas Aquinas is approaching the end of his period as a junior monk, God willing, he will make solemn (life) vows in August. He currently serves the community as guest master.


Brother Simon Peter Clayton, O.S.B.

Br. Simon Peter Clayton, O.S.B. was born and raised in Newark, NJ. He attended St. Benedict's Prep and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Marketing at St. Vincent College in Latrobe PA. Prior to graduating in 2012, Br. Simon secured a job with PNC Bank as a retail banking Branch Manager in Washington, DC. After spending a few years in the financial industry, Br. Simon Peter decided to answer God's call to return to his hometown and join our monastic community. He currently serves as kitchen liaison and attends Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University. 


Brother Asiel Maria Gonzalez, O.S.B.

Br. Asiel Maria was born in Cuba, but grew up in Union City. After spending some time with another religious community, Br. Asiel transferred to our community. He is currently studying for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary of Seton Hall University, and fills several roles in the monastery, as well as teaching in St. Benedict's Prep.