Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., celebrates Palm Sunday Mass April 5 in St. Rose Church, Belmar, one of several dozen parishes in the Diocese that is livestreaming the various liturgies during Holy Week. With Bishop O'Connell are, from left, Father Jason Parzynski, Father Christopher Dayton, and Msgr. Edward Arnister. Livestream Video Screenshot
Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., celebrates Palm Sunday Mass April 5 in St. Rose Church, Belmar, one of several dozen parishes in the Diocese that is livestreaming the various liturgies during Holy Week. With Bishop O'Connell are, from left, Father Jason Parzynski, Father Christopher Dayton, and Msgr. Edward Arnister. Livestream Video Screenshot
With COVID-19 restrictions requiring that people remain in their homes but for a few essential needs, tens of thousands of the faithful experienced Palm Sunday Masses by viewing live digital streams, one of which was the morning Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., without a congregation in St. Rose Church, Belmar.

The April 5 Mass was viewed live by some 3,000 households, with thousands more viewing following the Mass on the parish and diocesan websites and social media pages. The Mass continues to be available for viewing on the diocesan Youtube channel

Bishop O’Connell served as principal celebrant of the Mass and was joined at the altar by Msgr. Edward Arnister, pastor, who served as homilist; Father Christopher Dayton, parochial vicar, and Father Jason Parzynski, who was the Bishop’s master of ceremonies. The Mass included the proclamation of the Passion with the Bishop reading the part of Jesus, and Msgr. Arnister, Father Dayton and Dennis DaPrile who was the cantor, reading the parts of the voice, the narrator and the crowd.  

After the Bishop and priests received Holy Communion, Bishop O’Connell greeted the faithful who were viewing the Mass remotely, inviting them to participate in an Act of Spiritual Communion. “My brothers and sisters, we do indeed hold the Death of the Lord deep within our hearts, a death that requires us to sacrifice at this time, even the receiving of the Body and Blood of Our Lord,” the Bishop said, and then led in reciting an Act of Spiritual Communion prayer.

In his homily, Msgr. Arnister encouraged faithful to enter Holy Week, the most sacred week of the liturgical year, “with a new heart and a new spirit as we reflect, meditate and participate in the liturgies of the week, calling to mind all that Jesus did for us and the unconditional love he has for all humanity.”

Speaking of how Holy Week and Easter 2020 will be “utterly and totally different than any other Holy Week we have ever gone through in our life because of the pandemic we are in,” Msgr. Arnister reminded the faithful of how Jesus accepted and embraced his bitter and cruel Passion, suffering and Death on the Cross in total obedience to the will of his Father and how “today’s Palm Sunday liturgy reminds us to be one with Jesus in his suffering, to join our sufferings, our crosses, our difficulties to his.

“We focus on the Cross today and throughout this Holy Week,” said Msgr. Arnister. “We unite our pains to Jesus’ pains. We receive his healing through his Cross. We bring his healing to others by allowing them to experience the power of the Cross in our lives. We are called to participate in redemptive suffering, a suffering that leads from the Cross to the victory and the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection, the foundation of our faith and our hope.”

For a listing of livestream Masses scheduled throughout Holy Week in the Diocese of Trenton, click HERE

(Now during the COVID-19 pandemic, Holy Communion can only be distributed to the faithful as Viaticum for the dying until further notice.)