In letters sent to seven pastors April 10, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., announced details related to the new parish entities following July 1 mergers of 14 individual communities.  Announced in 2016, the mergers are part of a multi-year implementation process resulting from the pastoral planning initiative Faith in Our Future.

Bishop O’Connell specifies in the letters the name that he has given for each new merged parish entity and his rationale in selecting it from among three that were suggested by the cohort to which the merged parish belongs.  In all but one of the parishes, Sacred Heart, the name selected does not already exist in the Diocese of Trenton.

The Bishop also designates the patronal feast day, the pastor and other official details. The formal decrees will be issued May 1, 2018. The following information was provided for each merged parish:

• The merged parishes of St. Catharine of Siena, Seaside Park and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Seaside Heights, will become St. Junipero Parish.

Pastor: To be announced

Patronal Feast day: July 1, celebrated annually

Rationale: St. Junipero Serra was a Franciscan missionary who will continue to inspire the Franciscan tradition at the shore. He was the first saint actually canonized on American soil (Sept. 23, 2015).


• The merged parishes of St. Jerome, West Long Branch, and St. Mary, Deal, will become Our Lady of Hope Parish.

Pastor: Father Peter James Alindogan

Patronal Feast day:  Jan. 17, celebrated annually

Rationale: This feast commemorates an apparition by the Blessed Mother to a family in Pontmain, France, in 1871.  It recognizes the Blessed Mother as an advocate on behalf of families and those in need, inspiring hope.


• The merged parishes of Assumption, New Egypt, and St. Andrew, Jobstown, will become St. Isidore the Farmer Parish.

Pastor: Father Joseph Farrell

Patronal Feast day:  May 15, celebrated annually

Rationale: The parish is located in a rural area largely dedicated to farming, and St. Isidore is the patron of farmers


• The merged parishes of St. Joseph and Jesus the Lord, both Keyport, will become Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

Pastor: Father Rene Pulgarin

Patronal Feast day: Oct. 13, celebrated annually

Rationale: The universal Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima in 2017.


• The merged parishes of Sacred Heart and Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd, both Trenton, will become Sacred Heart Parish.

Pastor: Father Dennis Apoldite

Patronal Feast day: Feast of the Sacred Heart, celebrated annually 19 days after Pentecost

Rationale: The Church of the Sacred Heart holds historical significance as the first Catholic Church in New Jersey, dating back to 1814. It is an icon on the Trenton city landscape.


• The merged parishes of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Avon, and Ascension, Bradley Beach, will become St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish.

Pastor: Father Dean Gaudio

Patronal Feast day: Sept. 5, celebrated annually

Rationale: St. Teresa of Calcutta is a contemporary saint canonized in the lifetime of most parishioners.  St. Teresa of Calcutta visited the Diocese of Trenton, and her religious order has a house and ministry in nearby Asbury Park.


• The merged parishes of St. Mary, Bordentown, and St. Francis and St. Clare, Florence Township, will become Mary Mother of the Church Parish.

Pastor: Father Joseph Hlubik

Patronal Feast day: Monday after Pentecost, celebrated annually

Rationale: This title, celebrated at the Second Vatican Council, is the most recently established feast on the liturgical calendar.