Father Hilton administers Holy Communion to family members of Father Triggs. John Batkowski photo
Father Hilton administers Holy Communion to family members of Father Triggs. John Batkowski photo
Father Thomas J. Triggs, the retired pastor of St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck, who died Sept. 17 on his 73rd birthday, was remembered as a priest who lived out his saying ‘yes’ to God through his preaching and service.

“It was how God made him,” Father Francis “Hank” Hilton, said in his homily during the Sept. 22 Mass of Christian Burial in Our Lady of Victories Church, Sayreville, which was Father Triggs’ home parish.

Funeral services began Sept. 21 with calling hours in Maliszewski Memorial Home, Sayreville, during which Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and a contingent of priests from the Diocese paid their respects to family and bid farewell to the priest, who served the Diocese of Trenton for 45 years.

At the funeral Mass, four priests from the Trenton Diocese joined Father Hilton at the altar as concelebrants: Msgr. Casimir Ladzinski, a retired priest of the Diocese; Father John K. Butler, pastor of St. Michael Parish, West End; Father Jeffrey Lee, pastor of the Colts Neck parish, and Father John Chang, parochial vicar of St. Veronica Parish, Howell. Deacon Fred Sorrentino, a retired deacon who formerly served in Colts Neck, assisted.

Reflecting on the Readings that were proclaimed, Father Hilton, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Hillsborough, likened Father Triggs to the “just man” in the Book of Wisdom saying, “Tom labored to make the world the way God wants it to be.” Turning to the Second Reading from the Acts of the Apostles when Jesus commissions his disciples, Father Hilton said that “Tom said ‘yes’ to God by accepting the commission to preach God’s Good News to God’s beloved.”

“And like the crucified Christ who said ‘yes’ to the repentant thief, Father Triggs said ‘yes’ to God and to others even in his last years, when his physical condition had failed him,” Father Hilton said.


Father Triggs was born in Perth Amboy to Joseph Sr. and Emily (Hozeny) Triggs. He attended Our Lady of Victories Grammar School, Sayreville, and was a 1965 graduate of St. Mary High School, South Amboy, and a 1969 graduate of Notre Dame University, South Bend, Ind., from where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

He prepared for the priesthood in St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore, earning a master of divinity degree in 1975. He was ordained a priest May 17, 1975, by Bishop George W. Ahr in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

His first assignment as a priest was as parochial vicar in St. Francis Parish, Metuchen. Subsequent assignments as parochial vicar followed in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton; St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown; St. Mary Parish, Middletown, and St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor. He was named to his first pastorate in St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, remaining there for 15 years until he was named pastor of St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck, in 2007. Father Triggs retired from active ministry in 2015; in retirement, he lived in Sayreville until his recent move to St. Joseph Senior Home, Woodbridge.

Father Triggs is survived by his brother, Joseph Jr. (Elizabeth) Triggs; a niece, Maureen (Richard) Nemshick; a nephew Timothy (Deborah) Triggs, and a great-grandniece, Sarah Nemshick, all of Sayreville.

Burial was in New Calvary Cemetery, Parlin. Memorial donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at https://www.stjude.org/.