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The Florida Catholic

New priest learns to slow down, abide in God’s love

New priest

PALM BEACH GARDENS  |  The vocation stories of the two newly ordained priests for the Diocese of Palm Beach — Father Jean Serge Dubé and Father Joshua Martin — couldn’t be much different.

But their shared characteristics are obvious joy, love for God and a desire to serve the people of our diocese. When they officially begin priestly assignments July 1, Fathers Dubé and Martin will build on their extraordinary stories and more local Catholics will get to appreciate them. Father Dubé will be at Holy Cross Parish in Vero Beach and Father Martin at St. Anastasia in Fort Pierce.

Shortly before their May 4 priestly ordination, the Florida Catholic spoke with both men about their lives, hopes and dreams for furthering the faith and serving the church. (This week is Father Dubé’s journey to the priesthood. Next week, we’ll spotlight Father Martin.)    

In his 20s, Father Dubé felt a calling to become a Franciscan priest. After growing up and attending college in Connecticut, he served a pre-novitiate year in Bronx, New York, then novitiate in Brookline, Massachusetts. 

“During my novitiate year, when we began to talk about taking temporary vows, I began to imagine ordination day, and each time I did so I did not feel or experience any joy,” he said, feeling that God was leading him to family life.

Three years after leaving the Franciscans, Father Dubé met JoAnn, the woman with three children he would marry in 1996. Moving to Florida and working as a teacher, the family eventually joined St. Peter Parish in Jupiter. There, Father Dubé became a lector and extraordinary minister of holy Communion before deciding to apply to the diocese’s permanent deacon program. He was accepted in 2008 and was ordained a permanent deacon in 2013.

As a teacher at Rosarian Academy, then Cardinal Newman High School, and a deacon at St. Peter, then-Deacon Dubé’s life was wonderful, he said, until JoAnn’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Following her death just a few months later in September 2019, the newly widowed husband “didn’t think too much about anything the first two years,” he said. But Deacon Dubé needed to make a decision: remain a deacon but remain single (since deacons can’t be remarried) or pursue the priesthood.

“I had been asking God for guidance, but then one day I asked God, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I knew as I finished the words, it was to pursue the priesthood,” he said. Leaving his high school teaching position, the deacon began full-time studies for the priesthood at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.  

Since he had already taken seminary classes for the permanent diaconate, Deacon Dubé felt the courseload would be a little easier, since he didn’t have a job or small children at home. But he found that there were gaps missing from his education and formation.

“Each semester term, I would take extra classes compared to the guys I was in the program with,” he said. “The great part of that is I was not just in my own class, I was with other guys, seminarians in different tracks from different places. And for me, it was kind of like my high school students, when you get a transfer student come in their junior year. That was me.” But he was welcomed to the Priestly Formation Program by the seminarians and staff.

“For me, the most important part of coming back to seminary was my spirituality being the core foundation,” he said. “The first time through, it was all academic. It was just about the program, getting the degree, getting through. This time, I wanted something deeper. I wanted to deepen my relationship with Christ to be his priest.”

One of the powerful events during his priestly formation, Father Dubé said, was participating in a 30-day directed silent retreat at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. The retreat helped anchor him to the concept of putting God first, “to remind myself that in all I do, my primary goal is to breathe, slow down ... receive rest and abide in God’s love,” he said.

Now at age 58, Father Dubé hopes that his life experiences have matured him and will make a positive difference in the way he ministers to God’s people.  

“Having gone through a lot of different things, having been married, having lost a spouse. Now I can be more present to people who are going through similar situations and life experiences that I’ve gone through. And I have come through the pain,” he said.  

“When there’s any type of suffering, we want to avoid it or deny it or go around it, but the only way through is to enter into it. And that’s where we find Jesus. His arms are wide open, waiting for us to come in, but we’ve got to be willing to go in there. He’ll lead us through on the other side, a little bit better healed, a little more whole.”

For information on vocations to the priesthood and religious life, call 561-775-9552 or email, visit or follow the Office of Vocations and Seminarians on Facebook and Instagram. Next week in the Florida Catholic, read about newly ordained Father Joshua Martin.