The procession of school banners will certainly be missed this year. Students from around the Diocese gather for the 2019 Catholic Schools Mass with Bishop O’Connell in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. This year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, Bishop O’Connell will celebrate a Mass that will be pre-recorded and made available for students, teachers and faculty to view online Oct. 15. Craig Pittelli photo
The procession of school banners will certainly be missed this year. Students from around the Diocese gather for the 2019 Catholic Schools Mass with Bishop O’Connell in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. This year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, Bishop O’Connell will celebrate a Mass that will be pre-recorded and made available for students, teachers and faculty to view online Oct. 15. Craig Pittelli photo
Each fall for nearly 10 years, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., has brought Catholic school students from around the Diocese together for the annual Catholic School Mass.

This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Mass is being celebrated by Bishop O’Connell and a few priests in advance and made available to the schools and general public via video recording. It will be posted for viewing as of midnight Oct. 15 on youtube.com/trentondiocese.

Bishop O’Connell would “never let anything stop him from being with the children of our Catholic schools,” said Dr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools. “I think we made the best of what is considered to be the ‘new COVID world.’”

Bishop O’Connell was joined at the altar by Father Leandro Dela Cruz, administrator of St. Ann Parish, who concelebrated. Staff from the Office of Catholic Schools participated including Dan O’Connell, associate director of curriculum and instruction, and Judy Nicastro, associate director of school services/data management/marketing, who proclaimed the Readings, and Marissa Marcille, coordinator/financial analyst in the diocesan Department of Finance, and Sherry Sporek, administrative assistant in the Catholic Schools Office, read the Prayers of the Faithful. Schmidt offered remarks after Communion.

Dan O’Connell said the Oct. 15 virtual Mass will air on the same day that the in-person Mass would have been celebrated in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.

“If we can’t gather physically in the Co-Cathedral, we can be together virtually,” he said. “The Mass has been a tradition since before I even came to the Diocese and some traditions are worth keeping. And the Mass for Catholic Schools is one of them.”