Msgr. Crean Scholarship Award recipient, Carolyn Smith, a senior in Notre Dame High School, plans on attending Alvernia University, Reading, Pa., where she has been accepted into the master’s program in occupational therapy. Here she is pictured with her parents, Jim and Mary Smith. Courtesy photo
Msgr. Crean Scholarship Award recipient, Carolyn Smith, a senior in Notre Dame High School, plans on attending Alvernia University, Reading, Pa., where she has been accepted into the master’s program in occupational therapy. Here she is pictured with her parents, Jim and Mary Smith. Courtesy photo
The legacy of late Cathedral rector Msgr. Richard T. Crean was remembered 65 years after his tragic death with a Mass and breakfast in St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, March 21. Two Catholic graduating seniors from Lawrenceville’s Notre Dame High School – Tyler Kenney and Carolyn Smith - were awarded scholarships created to honor the memory of the beloved priest by the event’s host, the Mercer County Federation of Holy Name Societies.

Msgr. Crean was rector of St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, from 1934 until March 14, 1956, when a late-night fire at the Diocese’s Mother Church swept through it and the adjacent chancery and rectory. Rather than fleeing the rectory that was engulfed in flames, Msgr. Crean tried to alert others to the conflagration. He and two housekeepers living within perished.

Charles Seidenglanz, a parishioner in St. Raphael-Holy Angels, has been a Holy Name Society member since he was 16-years-old, some 73 years ago. He recalled a robust society with over 30 parishes as members, including one affiliated with the Trenton Police Department, and outdoor benediction with the bishop at the bandshell in Cadwalader Park.

Seidenglanz added, “At the time of the fire, that took the life of Msgr. Crean and two others, the Federation … used his death to honor his name with a yearly scholarship to a worthy graduating high school senior. Thanks in great part to our Spiritual Moderator, Msgr. John Dermond, the Federation and the scholarships are still here 65 years after the tragedy. Let's hope that all this continues for many more years.”

The organization’s good works of Christian piety are what attracted John Moroze and kept him a member for 20 years. The pandemic hasn’t slowed the members’ drive, he hastened to add.

“Despite the ongoing restrictions,” Moroze stated, “they have been holding monthly teleconference meetings, supporting the Nocturnal Adoration Society, providing information on retreats, offering solace to families of members via the Sick and Vigil Committee, and providing scholarships to worthy Catholic school seniors… It pleases me very much that the Federation continues to fulfill its mission, especially during these troubling times.”

The two scholarship recipients expressed their gratitude and shared their plans for the future.

Tyler Kenney, a member of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, was awarded a scholarship for his many accomplishments at NDHS, including his roles as math league president, baseball player and National Honor Society member and tutor.

Kenney, who has chosen to study engineering but has not yet selected a college, said, “I am very happy to be recognized as a Msgr. Crean Scholarship recipient.  It is really exciting to see the years of hard work in my education start to pay off, and I am very excited for what my future holds. I'm honored to accompany the students who received the scholarship before me, and I cannot wait to continue their legacy of success in my future endeavors.”

Scholarship recipient Carolyn Smith, who attends St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville, played lacrosse, winter track and tennis at NDHS, as well as completing hundreds of hours of community service in the Honors Service program. She will pursue a Catholic education in Alvernia University, Reading, Pa., where she has been accepted into the Master’s in occupational therapy program.

“Msgr. Crean was a remarkable and humble person who cared more about others than himself,” Smith said. “As a future therapist, I plan to model my life's work around these values.”

Smith was surprised to learn of a special connection she had with the late Msgr. Crean.

“When I found out I won the scholarship, I called my grandparents to tell them,” she said. “They told me they remember the devastating fire that occurred at St. Mary's Cathedral. I learned that my great-grandfather assisted with the clean-up and re-wiring of the church after the fire, and brought home a telephone that no longer worked. My grandparents have this phone on display in their home!”