By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
Two fraternities of men, twin pillars of faith and service to the Church of Trenton gathered in mutual admiration at the annual Pride in our Priests dinner held April 12 in Doolan’s Shore Club, Spring Lake Heights. Sponsored by the Trenton Federation of the Knights of Columbus, about 350 Knights and clergy filled the banquet hall to express their appreciation of one another and pledge to their brothers in faith support for their work on behalf of the people of the Diocese of Trenton.
During the cocktail hour and dinner, priests and Knights from throughout the Diocese renewed old friendships, forged new ones and traded kind words in gratitude for the others’ works in the life of the parishes of the Trenton Diocese.
Banquet chairman Gary Seals, Grand Knight in the council of St. Dorothea Parish, Eatontown, said of the annual event, “It’s meant to show appreciation to the priests, and they enjoy themselves.”
Knights of Columbus Trenton Diocese Federation president, John Brandon, explained, “This is a night we all look forward to, one to praise and honor the men who serve us on a daily basis.”
Father Joel Wilson, parochial vicar in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral and St. Joseph Parish, both in Trenton, balanced a plate of appetizers as he surveyed the room. He noted, “The Knights give support to the parish and do it all year. They also give great service to our seminarians,” he said.
“I never miss this,” declared Father James Conover, pastor in St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold. “The Knights are so wonderful. There has never been anything I have asked of them in my eight years at the parish that they have said ‘no.’ It’s remarkable.”
Msgr. Kenard Tuzeneu, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, nodded in agreement at his brother priest’s words, then added, “I call them my ‘minute men’ because they are always ready to help at a moment’s notice.”
Msgr. Thomas J. Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy and consecrated life and director of seminarians, extended regrets from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for a pressing engagement that prevented his attendance, but quoted the diocesan shepherd’s “deepest gratitude for all they did in the four counties of the Diocese. I appreciate the love and support of our priests you demonstrate each year,” the Bishop wrote.
James E. Stoever, K of C state treasurer for the Knights of Columbus, likened the annual spring banquet to baseball season, saying to the clergy seated before him, “This is like a ‘fan appreciation night.’ We would be wandering souls without you.” The Knight presented Msgr. Mullelly with a framed certificate that each new Knight had signed upon achieving membership and which bore the watermark of Bishop O’Connell’s face
Stoever also presented Msgr. Mullelly with a $10,000 check raised by the Knights earmarked for the diocesan Holy Innocents Society which provides religious education for children with disabilities.
Msgr. Mullelly expressed his gratitude for the donation and named individual councils that, over the preceding month, had donated their “tremendous generosity” towards seminarians with sums totaling thousands of dollars in donations.
“You are wonderful to our priests. The Knights of Columbus is the premier service organization,” the monsignor stated. “Every priest here could thank the Knights for their support of the dignity of life from conception to natural death. This [donation] will go to people who need a little help.”