Bishop O'Connell ordains Father Rjoy Ballacillo to the priesthood June 5, 2021. Jeff Bruno photo
Bishop O'Connell ordains Father Rjoy Ballacillo to the priesthood June 5, 2021. Jeff Bruno photo
In the midst of the global pandemic, 2021 proved to be a news-filled year in the Diocese of Trenton. Following are some of the more notable highlights taking place in the counties of Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Oean.


January – Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., set out a plan for January in response to the anniversary of the legalization of abortion in the United States. He asked the Diocese’s faithful to pray a Rosary for life throughout the month. In a message, “Pro-life advocates are indeed warriors,” the Bishop asked the faithful to be warriors for life and to dedicate the month to prayer and advocacy to end abortion.


The Diocese joined the Universal Church in observing the Year of St. Joseph which began Dec. 8, 2020 and concluded Dec. 8, 2021.

In a January message to the faithful on the Year of St. Joseph, Bishop O’Connell reflected on Pope Francis’ apostolic letter, “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart"), marking the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX.

Parishes around the Diocese observed the Year of St. Joseph with various Masses, presentations and celebrations.


Nov. 29, 2021 – Father Dennis Apoldite, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, was appointed by Pope Francis as Monsignor, Chaplain to His Holiness. On July 1, Father Apoldite had been appointed episcopal vicar for Mercer County by Bishop O’Connell.


June 5, 2021 -- Father Rjoy Ballacillo was ordained a priest by Bishop O’Connell in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.


May 15 -- Eight men were ordained deacons by Bishop O’Connell in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. The deacons are: Deacon Philip Clingerman, St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown; Deacon Paul H. DeGrazia, St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown; Deacon Gene Lanzoni, St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville; Deacon James M. Mackintosh, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold; Deacon Salvatore A. Petro, Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton; Deacon Paul Remick, St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel; Deacon Dennis Taylor, Resurrection Parish, Delran, and Deacon Jorge T. Valenta, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold.


March 21 – Mount Carmel Guild, the diocesan outreach agency based in inner-city Trenton, marked its 101st Anniversary with a Mass in Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hamilton. The event was postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 4 – Good Counsel Homes-South Jersey celebrated its 10th anniversary of providing outreach to pregnant women and their children. The Riverside-based agency marked the anniversary with a pandemic-safe, outdoor drive-by celebration on March 26 and an online event that included a video message from Bishop O’Connell on April 22. 

May 22 – St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, Lawrenceville, marked its 50th anniversary. The hospital was originally established as Morris Hall Health and Rehabilitation Center; received its first patient April 26, 1971, and was dedicated by Bishop George W. Ahr, May 22, 1971.

Aug. 11 – The Diocese of Trenton marked the 140th anniversary of its establishment. On a diocesan level, the anniversary was observed during the Mass to mark the opening of the Synod on Oct. 17.

Sept. 11 – The Diocese joined in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bishop O’Connell led an online prayer service and numerous parishes held Masses and prayer services.

Oct. 8 – St. Rose Grammar School, Belmar, marked its 100th anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Bishop O’Connell.

Dec. 14 – St. Michael Church, Trenton, marked the 100th anniversary of the consecration of the church building with a Mass celebrated by Bishop O’Connell.


50 Years

Father Robert Schecker 

Franciscan Father Andrew Reitz

25 Years

Father Pablo Gadenz, associate professor, Mount St. Mary Seminary and University, Emmitsburg, Md.

Father Jeffrey Kegley, pastor, St. Mary Parish, Middletown, and liaison to the diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Father Vicente Magdaraog, parochial vicar, St. James Parish, Red Bank

Father Ariel Robles, pastor, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton

Father Caesar Rubiano, Catholic chaplain, Jersey Shore Medical Center, Neptune, with residence in Holy Innocents Parish, Neptune

Divine Word Father Miguel Virella, pastor, Mother of Mercy Parish, Asbury Park


May 24 – Father Mark Crane, pastor, St. Thomas More Parish, Manalapan

July 1 – Father Roberto Ignacio, parochial vicar, Sacred Heart Parish, Riverton

July 1 – Father Edward Jawidzik, parochial vicar, St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton

Aug. 30 – Father Edward Kwoka, parochial vicar, Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton

July 1 – Msgr. Michael J. Walsh, pastor, St. James Parish, Pennington; St. George Parish, Titusville, and St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell


25 Years

Deacon Robert Armstrong, St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Bradley Beach

Deacon James. L. Casa, Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Holly

Deacon Silvirus Galvan, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood

Deacon John Hanna, St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish, Lavallette

Deacon James Hendrix, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting

Deacon James Manaloris, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Maple Shade

Deacon Michael F. Mullarkey, Epiphany, Brick

Deacon Gary Richardson, Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown

Deacon William Rowley, Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Holly

Deacon Patrick Martin, St. Mary Parish, Barnegat


June 30 – Mercy Sister Carol Henry, executive director of Mercy Center, Asbury Park

Sept. 1 – Christian Brother Frank Byrne, who served as president of Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft.


May 23 – The last Mass was celebrated in Christ the Redeemer Church, Mount Holly. The church was closed due to declining attendance and increasing financial struggles over the past decade.

June 6 – The last Mass was celebrated in Holy Spirit Church, Asbury Park, a worship site of Mother of Mercy Parish, Asbury Park. The church was closed due to serious financial challenges.


July 1, 2021 – Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, formed as a regional Pre-K-12 school in 2005, closed due to long-standing financial shortfalls. However, the decision was made to reopen the school in September as Trenton Catholic Preparatory Academy, an independent Catholic school.



Jan. 16 – Father William Schneider

March 30 – Father Frederick Jackiewicz

June 3 – Father Anthony Krisak


Jan. 8 – Deacon John F. Vassallo

Feb. 26 – Deacon James Kelly, Nativity Parish, Fair Haven

July 28 – Deacon Jose Beauchamps, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton


Jan. 6 – Franciscan Sister Agnes Marie O’Brien, former president and CEO of St. Francis Medical Center

July 7 – Mercy Sister Diane Szubrowski, former president of the New Jersey Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy


March 14 – Beatrice Sarah Murday, longtime director of religious education in St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish, Avon (now part of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Bradley Beach)

June 21 – Coach John McKenna, diocesan moderator for Catholic Athletes for Christ and longtime faculty member of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville

July 25 – Inez “Ginny” Fama, longtime coordinator of religious education in Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Hainesport

Nov. 1 – Rosemarie “Chick” McGinty, first lay woman to serve as a parish director of religious education, and first lay woman named a diocesan director


Feb. 21 – James E. Stoever, a member of Epiphany Parish, Brick, and secretary for the New Jersey Knights of Columbus, was named a medallion winner of the 2020 New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award.

June 10 – The Monitor Magazine was honored by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada with six Catholic media awards for work in first year of publication. The magazine earned awards for: Honorable Mention for Magazine of the Year; First Place for Best Layout or Article Column – Diocesan Magazine; Third Place for Best Cover for Color Large; Honorable Mention for Best Reporting on Vocations to Priesthood, Religious Life or Diaconate; Second Place for Best Seasonal Issue or Section.

July 10 – The N.J. State Knights of Columbus installed new state officers during a Mass celebrated by Bishop O’Connell in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. James E. Stoever, a member of Epiphany Parish, Brick, was installed as state deputy.

Sept. 10 – Robert Lauricella of St. Mary Parish, Middletown, was installed as the lay director of the Trenton Diocesan Cursillo Movement during a Mass celebrated in St. Mary Church.

Oct. 24 – During a diocesan Mass commemorating World Mission Sunday, Gina Selah, a religious education student in St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, was one of 24 students from throughout the country to have her artwork selected as a winner in the Missionary Childhood Association’s Christmas Artwork contest.