Sam Jarmer
Sam Jarmer
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By Lois Rogers | Correspondent

On a busy and fair Friday night at the Jersey Shore, the crush of tourists arriving in Belmar probably found it strange that hundreds of faithful were heading to church.

But that was the scene July 26 as more than 450 members of the St. Rose Parish and its two school communities, along with neighboring St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Bradley Beach, packed the parking lots and church pews for a Mass of Healing for one of their own.

Sam Jarmer, a 16-year-old junior in St. Rose High School, had suffered a serious spinal injury July 24 while working his job as a lifeguard in nearby Ocean Grove. Once word got out quickly over parish, school and diocesan social media, the response was immediate, the support strong and non-stop, said his mother, Jessica.

That the church was filled to near capacity reflected the vast community’s prayerful reaction from the beginning, said Jessica Jarmer after the Mass.

While her husband, Scott, remained at the hospital with Sam, she attended the Mass with Sam's brother, Michael, 18, a 2019 graduate of St. Rose High School, and sister, Molly, a sixth grader in St. Rose Grammar School.

Jarmer said that from the first moments of her son’s accident to his rescue by fellow lifeguards to his quick transportation to an area hospital, “God was definitely in charge.”

The presence of a top neurosurgeon, the emergency surgery overnight, the prayer and support of their parish priests and community, the visit of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., after the surgery, the help of the school administrators and the prayer service that had been held July 25 in Ocean Grove’s Thornley Chapel, were all indications of heavenly oversight, said Jarmer, who was brought to tears as she watched all the people, who came to support her son, receive Holy Communion  

“There was no way to control what happened but God put everyone in their place,” she said. “It has been amazing. I couldn’t stop the tears.”

Father Christopher Dayton, parochial vicar in St. Rose Parish and chaplain in St. Rose High School, was principal celebrant of the Mass, and Father Dean Gaudio, pastor of St. Teresa of Calcutta, concelebrated. St. Rose Parish pastor, Msgr. Edward J. Arnister, provided the music for the Mass which had been so quickly scheduled.

In his homily, Father Dayton drew from the First Reading (Exodus 20:1-17), urging everyone to focus on the love and support of God, who is “the Lord your God,” and to keep that phrase in mind at all times, especially during hard and challenging times.

“Remember that he is still here among us,” said Father Dayton.

Reflecting on the Gospel (Matthew 13:18-23), the Parable of the Sower, Father Dayton spoke of the “persistent seed of faith and hope in the one who can conquer all things.

“This faith,” he said, “holds us together. We gather together and recognize that Jesus never leaves us even in this moment.”

As the Mass concluded, Father Dayton thanked Father Gaudio and everyone for their support and prayers.

“We are one family, Sam,” he said. “and we are praying for you.”

In his closing comments, Father Dayton also shared that he and Father Gaudio, who anointed Sam in the hospital before surgery, had to divide the hosts into quarters so that everyone could receive Holy Communion.

“That is St. Rose,” he said later. “We let everyone know through social media and the community joined together.”

Parishioner Tonya Mizerny, who stood with her boys, Travis, 10, and Kyle, 8, in the back of the crowded church throughout the Mass, spoke of how she has known the Jarmer family since she and her husband, Christopher, became parishioners 10 years ago.

“It’s a parish where we believe in the power of prayer. That’s why everyone went as community and really pulled through,” Mizerny said.