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home : news : our diocese February 22, 2019

1/10/2019 11:44:00 AM
2018 Year In Review highlights Diocese's milestones
Young parishioners join Father Dean Gaudio and deacons in the sanctuary for the Lord’s Prayer during Mass July 1 in Ascension Church, Bradley Beach, a worship site of the new parish of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Father Gaudio is the parish pastor.  Mike Ehrmann photo

Young parishioners join Father Dean Gaudio and deacons in the sanctuary for the Lord’s Prayer during Mass July 1 in Ascension Church, Bradley Beach, a worship site of the new parish of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Father Gaudio is the parish pastor.  Mike Ehrmann photo

Students from St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft, celebrate the first week of October being one of five Catholic schools in the Diocese to be named 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools. John Batkowski photo

Students from St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft, celebrate the first week of October being one of five Catholic schools in the Diocese to be named 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools. John Batkowski photo

The year that was saw the people of the Diocese of Trenton coming together in an array of special events aimed at nurturing their faith and sharing it with others.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., decreed a Year of Youth and young Catholics answered his call by performing acts of service to the sick, poor and needy. A pilgrimage to Mexico with the Bishop reinforced the faithful’s love of Our Lady of Guadalupe, while a procession of torches in the Virgin’s honor through Trenton lit hearts aflame. Ordinations, Blue Ribbon school awards, and new parish communities formed through the Faith in Our Future initiative were celebrated as they fulfilled a common mission: to bring the love of Christ to the world. 

Easy to Read: Flip through the 2018 Year in Review! 


• Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M, celebrated a Mass of Sending in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, Jan. 18 on the eve of the 45th annual March for Life in Washington.

• On Jan. 22, dozens of all generations gathered with Bishop O’Connell for the annual Mass for Life in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. Speaking about the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Bishop reminded the congregation, “What is legal is not always moral.” The crowd then walked to the steps of the N.J. Statehouse for the Rally for Life to hear pro-life speakers and join in prayer.

• About 185 women, men and children gathered with their godparents, sponsors and family members for the Rite of Election held Feb. 18 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, a milestone in their faith journeys. During the March 31 Easter Vigil, more than 600 men and women entered into full communion with the Catholic Church, 188 receiving the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process, while the remaining 460 RCIA candidates recieving First Eucharist and Confirmation.

• An estimated four million-plus viewers from around the nation tuned in to the ABC television network for a nationally televised Mass on Easter Sunday with Bishop O’Connell in St. Catharine Church, Spring Lake. The Mass had been live-recorded the preceding Nov. 30.

• St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral was filled to capacity April 17 as nearly 1,000 members of the law enforcement community, along with clergy, state officials and supporters of all ages, gathered for the Diocese’s 19th annual Blue Mass. Amid the colorful and rousing presence of bagpipers, fife and drum corps and honor guards, the central message was that those who work in law enforcement are greatly appreciated, and that, with God, they are never alone.

• About 355 delegates from across two states came together April 28 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral for the Region III
V Encuentro meeting. The gathering covered the topics of Hispanic Catholic ministry, outreach, immigration, intercultural and leadership development and other as related to the New Evangelization. Ten delegates from the Diocese of Trenton journeyed to Grapevine, Texas, for the V National Encuentro in September.

• Taking his next step on his journey toward the priesthood, Christopher Pinto received the Sacrament of Holy Orders and was ordained as a transitional deacon May 19 in St. Raphael Church, Hamilton, by Bishop O’Connell. Pinto is expected to be ordained a priest in 2019.

• St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral was the site of a joyous Mass June 2 as Bishop O’Connell ordained four men to the priesthood: Father Christopher Dayton; Father Michael G. DeSaye; Father Nicholas Dolan, and Father James R. Smith.

• The diocesan Department of Pastoral Care held its annual “Senior Spirituality Day and So Much More” July 18 in St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square. More than 400 mature adults heard Msgr. Sam Sirianni, rector of St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, and members of the International Catholic Grandparents Association discuss passing on the faith from generation to generation, with heavy emphasis on mentoring youth. Mass was celebrated by Bishop O’Connell.

• Thousands from around the Diocese journeyed to St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral to venerate the relics of St. Anthony of Padua Oct. 10, and St. Pio of Pietrelcina Nov. 13.

• Some 350 couples celebrating one, 25, 50 or more years of marriage renewed their wedding vows and received the blessings of their Bishop during the Anniversary Blessing Masses held Oct. 7 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral and Oct. 21 in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral. The Monitor issued a special tribute keepsake magazine of the occasion.

• Some 700 representatives from some 40 Catholic schools across the Diocese filled St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral Oct. 11 for the Diocese’s annual Catholic Schools Mass, including representatives from this year’s five Blue Ribbon Award-winning schools. In his homily, Bishop O’Connell told the assemblage, “Catholic schools help you recognize God’s gifts, help you take [them] and make them something beautiful.”

• The third annual Our Lady of Guadalupe traveling torches, or “Las Antorchas Guadalupanas,” grew to include more churches and faithful. Fifteen torches were lit in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral Oct. 27, and entrusted to parish after parish throughout the month of November. They joined as one for a procession Dec. 1 through the streets of Trenton to St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral for a Mass and celebration.

• About 40 faithful from the Diocese of Trenton and beyond united with Bishop O’Connell for a pilgrimage to Mexico Dec. 2-7. Among the sites visited by the pilgrims was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.



• Ahead of the Church’s observances of National Marriage Week and World Marriage Sunday, the Diocese of Trenton introduced three new initiatives to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage in parishes and Cohorts. The programs included three-minute pulpit talks by married couples, lawn signs proclaiming the sanctity of Catholic marriage and the creation of parish core teams to conduct marriage ministry.

• To date, the “Faith to Move Mountains” initiative raised more than $72 million to aid the Diocese’s future. About $45 million has been collected, with $13 million rebated to parishes. Donors to the initiative numbered 24,747.

• The Annual Day of Service campaign adopted the theme “Hearts to Hospitals: Hearts to Lead, Hands to Help,” urging students from Catholic schools of the Diocese to gather up more than 1,000 gift items and $13,000 in cash and gift cards for children being treated in area hospitals, as well as their families.

• As part of the multi-year implementation process resulting from the pastoral planning initiative “Faith in Our Future,” Bishop O’Connell announced details related to the new parish entities of 14 individual communities. Effective July 1:

The merged parishes of St. Catharine of Siena, Seaside Park, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Seaside Heights, became St. Junipero Serra Parish.

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

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

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

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

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

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



• Six priests joined the ranks of their retired brethren: Msgr. James J. Brady, Father Daniel G. Cahill, Father Kenneth W. Ekdahl, Father Edwin J. Mathias, Father Jerome M. Nolan and Father Michael J. O’Connor.

• The diocesan Department of Catechesis welcomed Denise Contino as its new director.

• Deacon David O’Connor was appointed the new diocesan director of Catholic Cemeteries.

• About 160 priests spent time together in prayer and Mass and fellowship during the annual three-day convocation of priests Sept. 11-13 in Galloway. Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Paterson Diocese served as keynote speaker, reminding his fellow clerics, “We are the administrators of the gifts given to us by God and we are to use these gifts as a means to giving glory to him.”

• Father Daniel E. Kirk, pastor, St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson, served as keynote speaker during the annual diocesan diaconate convocation Oct. 26-27 in Princeton. Some 200 deacons and their wives attended the convocation marking the 50th year of the re-establishment of the permanent diaconate.



• The Feb. 10 Diocesan Youth Conference held in Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, invited the nearly 700 teens, youth ministry leaders, adults and men and women religious to be “Fearless 365” while celebrating their Catholic faith through song, dance, prayer and keynote speeches.

• Bishop O’Connell issued a decree that July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, shall be celebrated throughout the four counties of the Diocese of Trenton as a Year of Youth. The purposes and goals of the Year of Youth are to increase the active engagement of young Catholics in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and help them grow in faith as missionary disciples; to celebrate the gifts of young Catholics and increase their opportunities to make a difference at home, in their school, their parish, their Diocese and the world; to challenge misconceptions about the Church and cultivate a more positive attitude among young adult Catholics about the desire of young people to live and witness their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to inspire parishes throughout the Diocese to welcome young people, help them to feel at home and encourage their participation in parish life.  

• The Bishop launched the “Young Saint Series,” profiles published in The Monitor newspaper and online that feature biographies about young Catholics named to the sainthood.

• Teens put their faith into action during the July 12-15 Mission: Jersey retreat, pitching in at the Trenton Community Garden, attending Mass with their peers, and assisting in local social service agencies. The second stage of the initiative was based at St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor.

• More than 1,000 teens filled St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin, for a Mass celebrated by Bishop O’Connell and a talent show Oct. 14 to officially kick off the Diocese’s Year of Youth.



• The Diocese opened its first cremation garden on the grounds of St. Mary Cemetery and Mausoleum, Hamilton, Jan. 30.

• Bishop O’Connell blessed St. Crispin House, a parish outreach center located in Red Bank, April 8. The center, affiliated with St. Anthony of Padua Parish, will be staffed by priests and brothers of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri and contains a food pantry, storage areas, a community meeting room and offices.

• Clergy celebrating 50 years of service include Father Anthony Carotenuto, Msgr. John K. Dermond, Father Michael S. Vona, and Father Harold Cullen, who was also named a Chaplain of Honor to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor.

• Priests celebrating 25 years of service include Father Joseph Hlubik and Father Eugene Vavrick.

• Religious of the Diocese marking 50 years of service to the Church include Sister of St. Francis Patricia Bove, Sister of Mercy Beth Dempsey, Christian Brother Dennis Lee, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Mary Agnes Ryan, Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister M.E. Diane Simons and Filippini Sister Elizabeth Toft.

• Deacon Robert Barnes marked 25 years in the permanent diaconate.

• On the sixth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Bishop O’Connell joined staff and supporters from Seeds of Service Oct. 29 to celebrate its grand opening in Brick. The organization is a successor aid agency from the Visitation Relief Center.

• The Lawrenceville-based Center for FaithJustice celebrated 10 years of service.



• The Diocese mourned the loss of priests who served at one time in the four counties, including Father Roman Modino, Feb. 28, age 80; Father John Gibbons, Feb. 3, age 86; Msgr. John Szymanski, June 28, age 86; Conventual Franciscan Father Emmett J. Carroll, Aug. 20, age 93, and Trinitarian Father Philip A. Cordisco, Nov. 17, age 86.

• Departed deacons of the Diocese included: Michael Principato, St. Monica Parish, Jackson, Feb. 24, age 75; Thomas Cater, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting, Feb. 27, age 75; James McKeon, St. Gabriel Parish, Marlboro, June 7, age 82; Frank Giglio, St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Marlton, June 3, age 83; Edward Herr, St. Dorothea Parish, Eatontown, June 15, age 77; James Gonzalez, St. John Parish, Lakehurst, July 15, age 74; Normand C. Bailey, St. Rose Parish, Belmar, Aug. 25, age 86; Robert J. Klein, St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, Sept. 2, age 82; James M. Micali, St. Clement Parish, Matawan, Sept. 15, age 66; Raymond R. Rainville, Our Lady of Perpetual Help-St. Agnes Parish, Atlantic Highlands, Nov. 16, age 65, and James P. Walsh, Holy Innocents, Parish, Neptune, Dec. 14, age 78.



• Marlene Lao-Collins, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, announced a new one-stop website that links the services of all five N.J. Catholic Charities agencies. The site,, is the first of its kind in the United States.

• The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton, was honored with five awards and an honorable mention June 15 by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada during the 2018 Catholic Media Conference held in Green Bay, Wisc. The awards included first and third-place honors for Best Reporting on Vocations and a third-place nod for Newspaper of the Year.



• St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, celebrated 75 years.

• National speaker Chris Stefanick drew more than 800 faithful to St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft, April 11 for his “Reboot! Live!” presentation on how and why to become more involved in parish life.

• St. Mary of the Lake Church, Lakewood, hosted Polish Archbishop Waclaw Depo, who celebrated Mass and blessed an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe before hundreds Aug. 5.



• During the month of March, high school students in the Diocese of Trenton joined millions from across the United States for “National School Walkout,” an event for public and nonpublic students alike to show solidarity with victims of school violence in the wake of the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.

• In May and June, more than 1,500 young men and women graduated from 11 high schools in the Diocese, earning more than $225 million in college scholarships.  In addition, 1,183 eighth-grade students graduated from the Diocese’s 31 Catholic grammar schools.

• John McKenna, principal of St. Ann School, Lawrenceville, retired June 30, as did Barry Breen, president of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville.

• The Diocese of Trenton welcomed new school principals for the 2018-2019 school year: Kevin Donahue, St. Benedict School, Holmdel; Joanna Barlow, Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville; Mary Liz Ivins, interim president, Notre Dame High School; Sister of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill Mary Helen Beirne, St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold; Salvatore Chiaravalloti, St. Ann School, Lawrenceville; Kimberly Cioci, interim principal, St. Paul School, Burlington; Kim O. Clauss, St. Paul School, Princeton; Theresa Craig, Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Asbury Park; Debra Serafin, Mater Dei Prep, Middletown, and Cynthia Smith, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Maple Shade.

• Adopting new models of educational oversight, Holy Cross Preparatory Academy, Delran, opened as a private school helmed by principal William J. Stonis, and All Saints Regional Catholic School, Manahawkin, will move away from its regional model and reopen in July 2019 as St. Mary Academy under the administration of St. Mary Parish, Barnegat.

• Five schools of the Diocese were recognized as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the United States Department of Education and the Council for American Private Education: St. Leo the Great, Lincroft; St. Catharine, Spring Lake; St. Dominic, Brick; St. James, Red Bank, and St. Jerome, West Long Branch. This marks the second time St. Leo the Great was named a Blue Ribbon School, and brings to 13 the number of schools in the Diocese to receive this designation of excellence in academics in recent years.

• The pastor of Holy Innocents Parish, Neptune, and principal of the parish school issued a joint letter Nov. 10 announcing the Catholic schools would close its doors in June 2019.



• The St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, girls softball team won their first state NJSIAA title in five years June 2.

• Donovan Catholic graduate Alyssa Wilson made history June 15-17 by becoming the first junior woman to qualify for Team USA in three throwing events.

• Mater Dei Prep, Middletown, welcomed Dennis Kazimir as the new boys head basketball coach.

• Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, clinched the NJSIAA Non-Public A boys soccer state title Nov. 11.

• Red Bank Catholic won the NJSIAA Non-Public Group III football championship Nov. 24.

• Barb Major, longtime head coach of varsity field hockey in Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, retired after 50 years.

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