Silver Celebration • Msgr. Joseph N. Rosie, seen here celebrating his 25th anniversary Mass June 14 with Father Caesar Rubiano, pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Trenton, right, is a native of the Diocese of Trenton and attended diocesan Catholic schools. Joe Moore
Silver Celebration • Msgr. Joseph N. Rosie, seen here celebrating his 25th anniversary Mass June 14 with Father Caesar Rubiano, pastor of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Trenton, right, is a native of the Diocese of Trenton and attended diocesan Catholic schools. Joe Moore

By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor 

 A wealth of lived experiences has graced Msgr. Joseph N. Rosie’s 25 years of priesthood. Yet he regards the celebration of the Eucharist and leading people to Jesus as being the constants that give him the greatest joy.

“Celebrating the Eucharist for and with the people is really at the very core of what the priesthood is,” said Msgr. Rosie, who has served as pastor of St. Paul Parish, Princeton, since 2011.

“The Eucharist is all about the Lord’s love for his people.”

As this native son of the Diocese reflects on his silver jubilee of priestly ordination, he smiles with a sense of gratitude for the many rich and varied experiences he has had.

Raised in a devout Catholic household in Trenton and receiving his primary and secondary education in Sacred Heart School, Trenton, and Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, Msgr. Rosie said that for as long as he can recall, the Church has always played a very important part in the life of his family. Every Sunday as a child, he would attend Mass with his mother, Mary Ann, his father, Arthur, who died in 2014, and brother, Thomas in the family’s beloved Sacred Heart Church, Trenton, where they were active in many ministries.

One shining example of priesthood who Msgr. Rosie admired in his childhood, adolescence and well into his own priesthood was that of Msgr. Leonard R. Toomey, who served as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish for many years and was also the founder of the Mercer County Catholic Youth Organization.

“His love for the priesthood and dedication were fine examples of what it means to be a priest,” Msgr. Rosie said of Msgr. Toomey, who died in 2008.

Following his graduation from Notre Dame High School, Msgr. Rosie pursued studies for the priesthood, entering St. Andrew’s College Seminary at Seton Hall University, South Orange, where he was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. It was also in St. Andrew’s where he was given the “well rounded” opportunity to discern his calling.

Following his graduation from St. Andrew’s, Msgr. Rosie was asked by Bishop John C. Reiss to attend the Pontifical North American College, Rome.  He found it to be an extraordinary experience where he and other seminarians from throughout the world discerned their vocation in the city that is at the “center of our faith where we had a true experience of the universal Church.” Msgr. Rosie earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from PNAC, then went on to Lateran University to earn a licentiate degree in moral theology. He and his fellow classmates were ordained transitional deacons in April, 1989, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, by Archbishop Emeritus John Quinn of San Francisco.

Upon his return home the following year, Msgr. Rosie was pleased to learn that his priestly ordination would take place June 16, 1990, in Sacred Heart Church. The location was obviously special to him and his family because Sacred Heart was their home parish, and it was a joy for the parish to witness their native son’s ordination by Bishop Reiss.

Newly ordained Father Rosie’s first parish assignment was as parochial vicar in St. James Parish, Red Bank, which he described as “a very large, active parish.” He was also named chaplain of Red Bank Catholic High School.

“That was a wonderful place for a new priest to have an assignment,” he said, extending his appreciation to Msgr. Philip Lowery, pastor, who was a “great and very caring and faithful priest.”

Following Msgr. Rosie’s second parochial vicar assignment in St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold, he was named pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Long Branch, which he found to be a “very welcoming, faithful community.” After serving in large parishes such as St. James and St. Rose of Lima, he enjoyed being in a smaller parish where he engaged in people’s lives in a more intimate way.

In 2002, Msgr. Rosie’s priestly path veered from parish ministry to diocesan work when he was appointed secretary and master of ceremonies to Bishop John M. Smith. The following year, he was named vice chancellor and, in 2007, was appointed by Bishop Smith to be chancellor of the Diocese.

As Bishop Smith’s secretary, Msgr. Rosie enjoyed traveling to just about every parish in the Diocese whether for Confirmation ceremonies, building dedications, parish anniversary celebrations and even when the Bishop decided to make a spur-of-the-moment visit to a parish on the weekend to celebrate Mass for the parishioners.

Travels with Bishop Smith outside the Diocese included significant events around the country such as ordinations and installations of bishops. He also had the privilege to join Bishop Smith in several international excursions including World Youth Day celebrations, the dual celebration marking the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and witnessing the installation of Pope Benedict XVI. Another highlight was traveling to a village in northern Uganda where people lived in mud huts, but showed tremendous respect for one another and true devotion to their faith.

“They have all been wonderful, powerful experiences that all helped me to see the Church from a very broad perspective,” he said. 

Whether it was in Uganda, a parish in the United States or in the Trenton Diocese, “I saw people who were committed to their faith and I was reminded that we journey together in faith as we make our way to heaven,” said Msgr. Rosie.

Msgr. Rosie takes pride in a number of accomplishments during the four years he has served as pastor in St. Paul Parish. He is appreciative of the diverse flock who are in various stages of their lives and the significant Latino population who have joined the fold. He tells of how the parish celebrated the opening of the school’s new pre-K class to its being honored with a national Blue Ribbon Award for excellence. He’s grateful to his fellow priests and staff for sharing in his vision of parish life, the presence of many Princeton University students who attend Mass regularly and for the parish introducing a monthly Sensory Mass for families with special needs.

While Msgr. Rosie realizes the joys, changes and challenges that have occurred in the life of the Church in the past 25 years, he quickly notes how steadfast and loyal people remain to living out their Catholic faith.

“Pope Francis emphasizes through his actions that he wants to bring others closer to Jesus by placing himself in the midst of people,” Msgr. Rosie observed. “Through my priesthood, I can only hope that by celebrating the Eucharist and being present to people that I can bring them a bit closer to Jesus.”

“I thank God for the gift of my vocation and the experiences that God has blessed me with,” said Msgr. Rosie. “If I can help to make Jesus’ Paschal Mystery to come alive for people and bring them hope, even in some small way, then blessed be to God.”