The process of elevating St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Freehold to the dignity of a co-cathedral, which began in April 2016 by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., comes to fruition with the signing of the “acta,” or official document of elevation, during Mass Feb. 19.
The final step formalizing the new status will have been witnessed by more than a thousand of the faithful, along with priests of the Diocese and visiting Church leaders.
The St. Robert Bellarmine Parish community, notified on Christmas Eve 2016 of the honor and responsibility that it was being given, has been diligently preparing for the next chapter of its spiritual legacy that dates back to 1971. In its 46 years of existence, the parish has grown in response to a burgeoning Catholic community in western Monmouth County, eventually building its own church, which will now serve as the secondary spiritual home for the Diocese.
Fewer than 10 co-cathedrals in the United States have been approved by the Vatican. Co-cathedrals are established to supplement the mission and ministry of the cathedral of a diocese. In this Diocese, St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral will support St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton. Diocesan events will be scheduled in one of the two churches, according to the specific needs.
The administration and staff of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, already known for their warm hospitality, have opened wide the doors to their beautiful church and put out the welcome mat for the diocesan family.