Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., smiles after blessing the new Blessed Mother’s Prayer Grotto on the grounds of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square. Rose O’Connor photo
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., smiles after blessing the new Blessed Mother’s Prayer Grotto on the grounds of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square. Rose O’Connor photo

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Aug. 15 with the parish communities of St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square, and St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

“It’s a great joy to be here with you as we celebrate together this solemn Feast of Mary and her Assumption into heaven,” he offered.



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 Assumption Mass in St. Gregory the Great

In his homilies, Bishop O’Connell focused on the mystery of the Assumption of Mary.

“Faith tells us that things we believe are true, and so we believe even more in their truth. The Assumption of Mary the Mother of God, the feast we celebrate today, is one of those things,” he said. “We can’t find it in the Bible, try as we might. We can, however, find some basis for it there. St. Paul speaks of Christ’s Resurrection as the ‘first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ His Mother Mary was so closely associated with the Lord Jesus; it is hard to believe he would leave her behind in any way. The Book of Revelation portrays a ‘woman clothed with the sun’ caught up in a war between good and evil.  Many have believed that to be Mary.”

The Bishop continued, “For us who believe, today’s feast means that what Jesus promised to those who have faith, life eternal in glory with him is offered to us, with our Blessed Mother as a reminder and an encouragement. Believe and have faith in him. Believe and have faith with her. Mary has always led us to her son. In her glorious Assumption, she leads us still, now, and at the hour of our death.”

At the conclusion of Mass in St. Gregory the Great Church, a procession led by Bishop O’Connell and the parish Altar Rosary Society walked to a newly installed prayer grotto that surrounded a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was gifted to the parish from the Franciscan Servants of the Holy Child Jesus.

The Franciscan Servants of the Holy Child Jesus operated St. Elizabeth’s Home for unwed mothers in Yardville from 1934 to 1976. Parishioners Jane and Deacon Joe Latini met with Franciscan Sr. Antonia Cooper last year and received her blessing to provide a new home for Our Lady’s statue at St. Gregory the Great Parish.

The Altar Rosary Society, led by president Jane Latini, spearheaded efforts to fundraise to build the surrounding prayer grotto.

“I have immense gratitude that our Blessed Lady would guide me and send me all the grace needed to fulfill her mission of bringing her sacred image to our parish family,” Latini reflected.

She credits many others for their assistance in bringing the statue of Mary to the parish campus and for the construction of the grotto. The Altar Rosary Society spearheaded efforts to fundraise to build the Grotto area, with a pedestal, cover, lighting and landscaping. With proceeds from their annual Easter candy sale and generous donations from parishioners and the Knights of Columbus, they were able to raise $17,125 to fund the construction.

“We are grateful to Sister Antonia, Joe Bogdan and Yolanda Stinger, the stewards of the campus in Yardville, for their generosity in donating the Blessed Mother statue. A special thank you to Deacon Joe Latini and Deacon Bill Wilson for the contract work, Dwight Torlay for the electric work, and Ray Bodnar and son Ray for installing Our Lady on the granite base,” Latini reaffirmed.

Yolanda Stinger considered the significance of the morning and the relocation of the statue.

“As a steward, I am just so blessed that we found a home for her, and it is a wonderful day today for so many. To be able to come here in this beautiful grotto and pray to the Blessed Mother is just a wonderful thing for everyone.”

Fellow steward Joe Bogdan agreed.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see the Blessed Mother in such a holy place,” he offered at the conclusion of the blessing.

“It’s just beautiful,” parishioner Mary Ann Isaac said to Latini. “I know Our Lady is smiling from ear to ear.”