Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., offered words of encouragement to the faithful through secular radio interviews and diocesan media, seen here. Photo courtesy of the diocesan Department of Multimedia Production
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., offered words of encouragement to the faithful through secular radio interviews and diocesan media, seen here. Photo courtesy of the diocesan Department of Multimedia Production
Extending his outreach through both diocesan and secular media outlets, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., let readers and listeners know his thoughts and prayers are ever with them, “in this time of confusion, uncertainty and anxiety caused by the coronavirus.”

Along with taking to diocesan media to regularly provide updated messages of concern, information on new procedures in parishes and schools, and writing an extensive decree on how the Diocese will observe Holy Week liturgies, the Bishop was also a guest on radio programs, including NJ 101.5 FM and Ocean County’s 92.7 WOBM.

During his March 19 conversation on WOBM, Bishop O’Connell stressed the importance of safety during the pandemic.

Addressing the Diocese’s need to cancel Masses, he said, “What we’re being told is that the largest danger is crowds, and so I had to respond quickly. It’s not something that I desire, but it’s something that is necessary. It’s a huge sacrifice, but one that we have to make for the health and well-being of the people for the common good.”

The Bishop noted that Masses were being broadcast on social media and TV and that there is “a lot of religious programming that’s very good to watch as well. People have their own Bibles to read the Scripture, pray the Rosary and other personal prayers. There are many things that people can do to nurture their spiritual life.”

He continued, “There is hope for a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel – we just don’t know right now when and where it’ll be, which can bring on a number of emotions for people and their faith.

“Faith is confident assurance of what we hope for and a conviction about things we do not see,” he said, referencing Scripture’s Letter to the Hebrews.

“Our faith has to remain strong,” he said. “Don’t lose faith, don’t lose heart, and keep calm.”

Bishop O’Connell appeared on two radio broadcasts with NJ 101.5 FM, speaking about the suspension of Masses and the financial toll the parishes are experiencing due to the lack of weekly offertories.

“We are an organization ... that is supported by the generosity of the faithful. When the faithful don’t gather, they don’t have the same opportunities to contribute,” Bishop O’Connell. “And that’s going to have … a serious effect on us.”

The Bishop later went on to establish a COVID-19 Emergency Fund to help parishes and the Diocese meet the spiritual needs of the faithful.

In a video message, pastoral letter and podcast message posted on diocesan media in the past weeks, Bishop O’Connell continued to stress similar themes, especially the importance of having faith and patience because “when they come together, they bring about charity. … When we show charity toward others, our own worries diminish.  That’s what love does.”

Acknowledging the sacrifices and crosses “that bear down on us now,” he said, “We must pick up that cross and carry it, if only for a short while. … We will rise from this adversity.”