Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., celebrates the Mass of Thanksgiving marking the 100th anniversary of the Court St. Rose of Lima, Catholic Daughters of the Americas. The Mass was celebrated in St. Rose of Lima Church, Freehold. Screengrab photo
Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., celebrates the Mass of Thanksgiving marking the 100th anniversary of the Court St. Rose of Lima, Catholic Daughters of the Americas. The Mass was celebrated in St. Rose of Lima Church, Freehold. Screengrab photo
Since 1922, Court St. Rose of Lima of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas in Freehold has served as a viable ministry, where the members have been faithful and steadfast in upholding their mission of “Unity and Charity” while carrying out religious, charitable and educational works in service to their parish and community at-large.

The Court’s centenary milestone was commemorated with an April 24 Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Rose of Lima Church, an occasion which Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., described as a “wonderful milestone.”

“What a beautiful day this is, what a blessed coincidence this is,” Bishop O’Connell said, referring to how the anniversary Mass fell on the Second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday. Bishop O’Connell was principal celebrant of the Mass and homilist. He was joined at the altar by Father James Conover, St. Rose of Lima pastor, and other priests who serve in the parish. Court members, including Joann Morrison, current regent, served in liturgical ministries as lectors and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

“We congratulate and celebrate with them, their continuing power of prayer and their continuing power of presence in the parish, with grateful hearts for all they do and all that they are to St. Rose of Lima Parish,” Father Conover said.

Mystery of the Faith

In his homily, the Bishop reflected on how the Gospel focused on Jesus’ appearing to his apostles in the Upper Room following his Resurrection. The apostle, Thomas, was not present at the time, and, a while later, when the other apostles said that Jesus appeared to them, he refused to believe it.

“The Gospel is a reflection upon faith,” Bishop O’Connell said, recounting the words of the Risen Jesus to Thomas, “blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

“Faith is about mystery,” Bishop O’Connell said. “Mystery is the object of our faith. We can be as sure about the object of our faith as anything visible or sensible because faith points to what is true. What is true is true not because we believe it: truth is whether we believe it or not,” he said.

Bishop O’Connell added how there are few things in life “as powerful and as transforming as faith.

“Faith makes us reach for the unreachable, makes us seek out what the world says is impossible,” he said. “Religious faith is wrapped up in the mysteries of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Church.”

Turning to Divine Mercy Sunday, the Bishop shared the story of when the Lord Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska and how now-St. John Paul II “saw this fulfillment of the will of Christ.”

“As a gift to humanity, the Risen Lord offers his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens hearts to love,” he said. “Love and mercy were the reasons for Jesus’ life and mission, for his Death and Resurrection, for his Ascension and abiding presence among us.

“Jesus never rejects us,” the Bishop said. “He continues to reach out in love and mercy; to the sinner and the saint; the poor and the rich; the suffering and the healthy; the guilty and the innocent; the born and the unborn; people of every race, tongue and nation, and to all who seek him with a sincere heart. To such as these he extends his divine mercy, all those who have not seen, yet believe.”

Faithful Daughter

The Bishop’s words resonated with Morrison, who has been in the Freehold Catholic Daughters Court for 10 years and has served as a regent since 2019.

Morrison said she was attracted by the Court’s work, which involves both spiritual and service efforts. The Court participates in numerous projects to benefit the community as well as the parish, she said, such as collaborating with the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference throughout the year. At Christmas, the Court collects toys and clothing for children and prepares food baskets for the families the conference serves.

Other Court activities include participating in the One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies; praying at the Planned Parenthood facility in Shrewsbury, and working with Children Inc., in which members support a child who is attending school. Court members also donate money to a graduating eighth grader from St. Rose of Lima School who is going on to a Catholic high school; provide financial assistance to a child attending Kateri Day Camp, Wickatunk, and sending notes and cards to veterans living in the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home in Menlo Park.

Most recently, she said that the Court gave a donation to the Catholic Daughters’ national headquarters toward relief efforts in Ukraine.

“When we were first established, women did not have the right to vote. They were expected to stay home and care for their families, and women pursuing a higher education “was unheard of,” she said. “Now look at all we do today.”

Praising the Court members and how they strive to “uphold our standards” of unity and charity, she said, “We have a wonderful and proud heritage,” adding that members dedicate their work to their patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Everything we do begins with Mary’s inspiration,” Morrison said.