The Diocese of Trenton will commemorate the canonizations of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II during two Masses celebrated by Bishop David M. O’ Connell, C.M., scheduled around the ceremonies in Rome April 27.

The Mass of Thanksgiving for the Canonization of (the soon-to-be) St. John XXIII will be celebrated Saturday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m. in St. Robert Bellarmine Church, Freehold. 

The Mass for the Canonization for St. John Paul II will be celebrated Sunday, April 27 at 11 a.m. in the Polish Catholic community of St. Hedwig Church, Trenton.  The celebration will be conducted in Polish and English; children will be dressed in ethnic costume and music will be sung in both Polish and English. Parishioners and guests will also have the opportunity to reverence a relic of the blood of St. John Paul II. 

Blessed John XXIII, who led the Church from his election in 1958 to his death in 1963, is best known for having convoked the Second Vatican Council in 1962, which resulted in ground-breaking changes for the Church. Spending much of life as a Vatican diplomat, he had been heavily involved in helping Jews escape Nazi persecution.  During his pontificate, Pope John XXIII wrote the landmark social encyclical, “Peace on Earth.”  He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000.

St. Robert Bellarmine Church, established in the early years after the Second Vatican Council and shaped by the principles that were issued from it, was a fitting choice for the location of the diocesan celebration. St. Robert Bellarmine pastor, Msgr. Sam Sirianni, stated, ““On one level, being a child of the council, it’s a great privilege. The reforms of the council molded and shaped me, and I am very honored to be able to do this.” He continued “On another level, for the parish, it was founded in light of the principles of the council. I would hope that we continue to allow those principles to be the foundation of all our work in the future.”

Blessed John Paul II, the Church’s first non-Italian pope in 455 years,shepherded the world’s Catholics for 26 years, beginning with his election in 1978 until his death in 2005.  Responsible for ongoing implementation of the principles of Vatican II, Blessed John Paul II engaged literally every faction of the human family and his influence was seen throughout the universal Church and the entire world. He was well-known for his ability to inspire youths and for his clear positions on human dignity and freedom; the sanctity of human life, the need for sanctity within the Church and the importance of media and communications in evangelization. He was beatified in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Father Jacek Labinski, pastor of St. Hedwig Church, said, “I am happy to have this celebration of canonization in our parish for so many Polish people, as well as those who built the church [who were] immigrants in the 1920s. I’m sure they never dreamed there would be a Polish pope, and now a canonization of a Polish pope.”

In both churches, visual images of the popes on banners and photographs will be on display, while special prayers and petitions for the canonization will be read during Mass.

St. Robert Bellarmine Parish is located at 61 Georgia Road, Freehold. St. Hedwig Parish is located at 872 Brunswick Avenue, Trenton.