Following the Mass he celebrated in St. Benedict Church, Holmdel, Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., greets students who are particpating in the parish's Summer Academy religious education program. Mike Ehrmann photo
Following the Mass he celebrated in St. Benedict Church, Holmdel, Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., greets students who are particpating in the parish's Summer Academy religious education program. Mike Ehrmann photo

Bright and early the morning of July 18, the 140 youngsters who gathered for the 9 a.m. Mass in St. Benedict Church were very eager to answer questions such as “What is the Old Testament?” and “What is the New Testament?” The questions were asked by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who paid a special visit to the Holmdel parish to celebrate Mass which was attended by the students participating in the second week of the parish’s summer religious education program.

Called the Summer Academy, the program serves as an alternative to weekly catechesis during the school year and provides students an experience of intensive learning on the Catholic faith by involving them in a variety of activities and lessons. This year, St. Benedict Parish is offering three one-week experiences for students. In all, there are a total of some 400 students in grades one through six enrolled over the course of the three weeks. 

In his homily, Bishop O’Connell said it was important for him to say Mass for the students attending religious education during the summer. He then spoke about three important elements of the faith – Jesus, what it means to have faith and the Church. Students were interested to hear Bishop O'Connell talk about the role of a bishop and the various items that are pertinent to a bishop, such as the crozier, miter, pectoral cross and ring.

In addition to celebrating Mass in St. Benedict Church, the Bishop had also celebrated a Mass on July 11 for the students attending the summer religious education program in St. Joseph Parish, Toms River.