Bishop O’Connell presides over the installation of Father Sansevere as pastor of the parishes of St. James, Pennington; St. George, Titusville, and St. Alphonsus, Hopewell. Hal Brown photo
Bishop O’Connell presides over the installation of Father Sansevere as pastor of the parishes of St. James, Pennington; St. George, Titusville, and St. Alphonsus, Hopewell. Hal Brown photo
Having been ordained a priest only 14 months, Father Stephen Sansevere admitted that it came as “a bit of a surprise” when he learned he would become a pastor of not only one parish, but three – St. James, Pennington; St. Alphonsus, Hopewell, and St. George, Titusville. But he is also honored for the faith and trust that Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., placed in him to take on the task.

“Dealing with three parishes is certainly a challenge, as each parish has its own nature and style,” said Father Sansevere following his Sept. 12 installation Mass.

Photo Gallery: Father Sansevere installed as pastor

“I have found all three to be very welcoming and hospitable to me. They each have their own approach and personality,” he said.

Father Sansevere, who previously served as parochial vicar of what has come to be affectionately known as “The Catholic Community of Hopewell Valley”, said that one of the great joys of the past year has been getting to know the different traditions of each parish and finding a willingness among the faithful to work together on different tri-parish events.

“I am also blessed with a great staff in all three parishes and having six brother deacons who certainly make my life far more manageable,” he said, sharing that he has known all of them for many years and that he and Deacon Dick Currie were ordained deacons together 21 years ago. He also extended appreciation to Father Jean Felicien, parochial vicar; senior priests who serve as weekend assistants – Msgr. Ralph Stansley, Msgr. Ronald Bacovin and Msgr. Vincent Gartland, as well as Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, who lives in residence in St. James Parish and serves as diocesan director of Clergy and Consecrated Life.


“They are all great resources for any pastor,” he said.

Looking to the future, he said it’s his goal to find ways to bring the three faith communities closer together while still allowing them to maintain their own style.

“In the end it comes down to us all being one in the Lord,” he said.

 As for challenges, Father Sansevere is still working on getting to know parishioners, especially since he didn’t have too much of an opportunity since the pandemic lockdown. While livestreaming was a way to bring the parish to the faithful, “unfortunately I can’t get to see them. Masks on, masks off, who is back, who is still cautious about coming back to church. As I get to know more of the parishioners, they say ‘we know you from online Masses,’ but I can’t see them.”

Expressing his gratitude, Father Sansevere shared, “The Bishop has been very supportive. It is always an honor to have the Bishop visit us here in the Catholic Community of Hopewell Valley, and I know his being here shows us that he has great confidence in the parishes of St. George, St. Alphonsus and St. James, and that we will continue to spread the Good News throughout the Hopewell Valley.”

When asked what it means for him to be named a first-time pastor, Father Sansevere chuckled as he thought back to the major milestones in his life.  Married to his wife Susanne for nearly 40 years before her death, working as a Jersey City police officer for 25 years, and serving as a deacon for 20 years, he is now a priest and pastor.

“We have to admit, God has a sense of humor,” he said.