Donna Frappolli, chair of the Anniversary Mass committee, gifts Bishop O'Connell with a framed photograph of Holy Assumption Church painted by parishioner and artist, Theresa Sweeney.  Mike Ehrmann photo
Donna Frappolli, chair of the Anniversary Mass committee, gifts Bishop O'Connell with a framed photograph of Holy Assumption Church painted by parishioner and artist, Theresa Sweeney. Mike Ehrmann photo

For the faithful who have long called Holy Assumption Church in Roebling their spiritual home, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Most Holy Virgin Mary has always been very meaningful. But this year, the celebration of the feast day was especially joyful as the Holy Assumption community, part of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown, celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Originally incorporated as St. Emericus Hungarian Church in 1913, the parish was blessed Nov. 30, 1922, just four months after ground was broken on the new church which was to be named Holy Assumption.

Over the century many changes would occur in the brick worship space on Hornberger Avenue. But staying true to their Hungarian roots has been a constant for the faith community, as evidenced in the anniversary Mass where parts of the Liturgy of the Word were read in Hungarian and Hungarian hymns were sung by the choir.


Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., served as the celebrant for the August 14 anniversary Mass which also celebrated the Feast of the Assumption.

In his homily, Bishop O’Connell reflected on some of the changes that occurred during the century since the construction of the church.

“The world was recovering from one World War, was about to experience a severe worldwide Depression and was gearing up for a Second World War.  And that was the just the first half of the century,” he said.

“The prayers, the joys, the tears, the Baptisms, the First Holy Communions, the Confirmations, the weddings and the funerals . . . through all these things and many cultural and social revolutions, the doors of Holy Assumption Church remained open to welcome the faithful and lead them to God.  Congratulations on your 100th anniversary!”

Turning his reflection to the Feast of the Assumption, Bishop O’Connell said, “Mary has always led us to her Son.  In her glorious Assumption, in this church honored with her name on this, her feast, she leads us still ... now, and at the hour of our death.”

Father Martin O’Reilly, pastor, addressed the congregants at the conclusion of the Mass.

“I’d like to take a minute and acknowledge all of our forbearers; those who persevered and were persistent in petitioning the Bishop [McFaul] 100 years ago.  . . . Let us continue to build on their faith and share that faith with the generations to come.”

It was the strong faith and sense of community among the faithful of Holy Assumption Church that made Maria Roan feel at home when she moved to the area in 1982.

“Our church has been blessed with many good and caring priests, brothers, deacons and sisters! We have had many great people whose love built up Holy Assumption and hopefully we will continue to have people of great love make it flourish for another 100 plus years,” she said.  Roan grew emotional when remembering “the many parishioners who have passed or are disabled now, who lived for our church.”

Krisztina Trezza also recalled that feeling of welcome when she and her family immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1991.

“For me, having other Hungarian parishioners make us feel wanted and accepted made it so special. Our priests, deacons and fellow parishioners are such dedicated, faith-filled and inspiring people! I hope to pass on this deep faith to our next generation.”

The reception following the Mass afforded the opportunity to reminisce and view memorabilia as Hungarian entertainers sang songs and performed traditional dances. While looking at some photos, life-long parishioners Babs Machion and Eleanor Hofflinger, who have been friends since grade school, found younger versions of themselves in the black and white First Communion and May Crowning photos.

Machion and her husband Robert, who served as a deacon in the church from 1982 until his death in 2010, raised six children in the parish.  She recalled with affection that the Daughters of Divine Charity served in the parish and the former Holy Assumption School.

“I’ve been a parishioner for 83 years,” Hofflinger said, “I raised my family here. We were here all the time. The priests, the sisters, they were all good and faithful people. This church is full of good people- that’s what makes it special.”