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home : news : parishes, schools & local April 23, 2019

Bishop O'Connell to celebrate second Mass in Belmar Beach gazebo
‘Gathered As One’ – Some 1,000 faithful  gather with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for the first Mass  that Cohort 19 hosted at the Belmar Beach gazebo last Aug. 13. This year, the Bishop will return to the Gazebo Aug. 19 to celebrate at Mass at 9:30 a.m. Joe Moore photo
‘Gathered As One’ – Some 1,000 faithful  gather with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for the first Mass  that Cohort 19 hosted at the Belmar Beach gazebo last Aug. 13. This year, the Bishop will return to the Gazebo Aug. 19 to celebrate at Mass at 9:30 a.m. Joe Moore photo

For the second consecutive year, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., will join faithful from the four shoreline parishes that comprise Cohort 19 for the celebration of Mass at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 19 at the gazebo on Belmar Beach.

The Mass will bring together the parishes of St. Catharine-St. Margaret, Spring Lake; St. Rose, Belmar; St. Mark, Sea Girt, and the newly formed St. Teresa of Calcutta, Avon, which was created as of July 1 from the merger of the former Ascension Parish, Bradley Beach, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Avon.

“People are looking forward to it,” said Msgr. Edward Arnister, pastor of St. Rose Parish. “Not only the parish communities of our Cohort but the residents of Belmar, the surrounding communities and the many visitors who may be vacationing here.”

Reflecting on last year’s inaugural Mass at the Belmar Gazebo, Msgr. Arnister described it as a “wonderful event” for the close to 1,000 people who attended.

“The weather was picture perfect, the music was uplifting, the participation and cooperation  of the parishes of Cohort 19 was a collaborative effort for which we were most grateful,” he said, then noted that an added impetus for Cohort 19 holding a second Mass was the enthusiasm expressed by Bishop O’Connell.

“I remember in his remarks at the end of the Mass, Bishop O’Connell asked everyone, ‘Do you want me to come back next year?’ and of course there was a resounding ‘Yes,’” Msgr. Arnister recalled. “And that’s why we are once again having this Mass. It has become and hopefully will be an annual summer tradition.”

Msgr. Arnister recalled how the idea to hold the first Mass on the beach had originated last year as an evangelization tool when members of his parish pastoral council began looking for ways to reach out to persons who have either been away from the Church or were looking to reconnect. One member suggested having a Mass at the gazebo, then noted that the Mass was patterned after an annual Mass that [the former] St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish held on a beach in Avon.  He said the idea eventually evolved into a Cohort-related event with representatives from each of the parishes serving on the planning committee.

Similar to last year, Msgr. Arnister said that this year’s Mass will involve a mix of parishioners in the liturgy, serving as greeters, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and members of the Knights of Columbus from the Cohort parishes. In addition, he said, “the magnificent choir we had last year” will again represent choir members from the Cohort parishes, youth, the Hispanic community from St. Mark Parish and a variety of instrumentalists. He noted that the choir will prelude music will begin at 9:15.

Msgr. Arnister added a word of appreciation to volunteers from the St. Vincent de Paul Society from St. Rose Parish and students from St. Rose High School for their willingness to help with set up and break down of chairs and tables before and after the Mass.

Tom Mullooly, Cohort chair and co-chair of the Mass planning committee, smiled as he reflected on the willingness of the Cohort 19 parishes to work together. “The parishes are making great strides,” he said. “It may not be apparent (yet) to many in their own congregation, but changes are unfolding to bring these parishes together, not only for events like the Mass at the gazebo but also in some of the groups, organizations and ministries,” he added, that noting that in addition to the Mass, other Cohort 19 activities have included building a new website, providing support to the newly created St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish and creating a structure for a new youth program.

“Our Cohort group has been busy mapping out several areas where we can ‘break down the silos’ surrounding each parish,” Mullooly said. “We’ve learned most parishes offer overlapping programs, groups, organizations {and realized] how great it would be to meet and build relationships with people doing similar work in the next parish over from yours,” he said. “And coming together like that will help strengthen our bonds in faith.”

Of the Aug. 19 Mass, Mullooly said that in the event of inclement weather, the Mass will be held across the street from the gazebo in the Taylor Pavilion. He also said that parking around the beach will be extremely limited  and encourages Mass goers to consider car-pooling, walking and riding bikes to the Mass. Also, a free shuttle bus will be running from the Belmar Plaza to the gazebo between 8:45 and 11 a.m. on the day of the Mass.

Related Stories:
• Bishop O'Connell celebrates Mass in Belmar after gazebo gathering canceled

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