Bishop O'Connell blesses the new gathering space in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Whiting, on May 1. Staff photo
Bishop O'Connell blesses the new gathering space in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Whiting, on May 1. Staff photo
The parish community of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Whiting, had a two-fold reason to celebrate May 1 during a visit by their chief shepherd, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. – six young Catholics of the parish were confirmed, and their newly renovated gathering space was blessed by the Bishop under sunny skies.

Bishop O’Connell was accompanied by the parish’s pastor, Father Pasquale A. Papalia, and Deacon Peter Downing, as well as pastors from two neighboring parishes: Father Richard Basznianin of St. Pius X, Forked River, and Father James O’Neill of St. John, Lakehurst.

The renovated space extends about 20 feet past the church’s former footprint and includes a new esplanade and accessible ramps. Statues of Mother Seton and St. John Neumann adorned the grounds. Inside, restrooms were renovated, and a mixture of clear glass and stained glass windows, declared Father Papalia, “really lit up the place.”

The pastor continued, “It is both practical and traditional, splendid but not ornate. It is a very gracious entrance and is a confluence people understand.”

Father Papalia explained the project’s two-year capital campaign had been prolonged due to COVID delays and expressed his joy at its completion before his impending retirement this June. Future plans for the adjoining space include an outdoor prayer garden with flowers and statuary of the parish’s patron saint accompanied by children.