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home : news : our diocese February 22, 2019


2/6/2019 9:57:00 PM
Friends, priests, parishioners reflect on Bishop Smith
Bishop Smith was known to keep in contact with hundreds of people from his many different assignments after his retirement, many of whom sent birthday cards every year thanking him for his humbleness, knowledge and sense of humor, friends said. Photo courtesy of Father Cesar Rubiano

Bishop Smith was known to keep in contact with hundreds of people from his many different assignments after his retirement, many of whom sent birthday cards every year thanking him for his humbleness, knowledge and sense of humor, friends said. Photo courtesy of Father Cesar Rubiano


“I don’t think Bishop ever felt that he had all the answers but he knew the right questions to ask. He was open to the opinions of others and took them seriously when it came time to making final decisions. That was a gift.”

~ Msgr. Gregory D. Vaughan, pastor of St. Catharine Parish, Holmdel, former chancellor, vicar general and vocations director

 

“We had many philosophical talks about our chosen professions – as we would say ‘CEO to CEO’ – and the joys of leadership and also the disappointments. Even as he discussed some of the difficult decisions he had to make, he always spoke of the necessity to consider the long-term implications of making the Diocese stronger and how important that was to him.”

~ Judy Persichilli, former CEO of St. Francis Medical Center and member of St. James Parish, Pennington

 

“I was always envious of the disciples and wondered what it could be like to sit on a rock in Galilee and just talk and listen to Jesus face-to-face. Whether it was a sacramental program for Baptism or for First Holy Communion, having a committee meeting on parish issues, attaching a charismatic prayer meeting or going to Confession, when ‘Father Mort’ was involved, I could honestly believe he was Christ’s representative to his people.”

 ~ Tom and Jeanne Segedin, parishioners of St. Joseph Parish, Oradell, then-Msgr. Smith’s first parish assignment

 

“I felt I could always trust his wisdom, insights and fatherly advice. Likewise, I felt as though he respected me and trusted my insights, e.g. regarding young people. For me personally, I looked up to Bishop Smith as a father.”

~ Mercy Sister Donna D’Alia, former diocesan director of youth and young adult ministry; now pastoral associate in St. Rose Parish, Belmar

 

“It was 3 a.m. … and one could hear a pin drop. However, as the bishop was getting into the car, the hoot of an owl could be heard – in the middle of Trenton. Hearing the owl, the Bishop whispered, “And I thought I was the only wise creature in this neighborhood.”

~ Max von Koller, Bishop Smith’s former driver, recalling a trip to the airport

 

“Traveling with Bishop Smith was really a great joy.  Not only was he extremely knowledgeable about all of the sites we visited and the places we stayed in, but he had a wonderful way of connecting with each of the pilgrims as if they were family and making everyone feel at home with one another. As much as the Holy Land is an incredibly spiritual place, it's oftentimes physically and emotionally challenging. Bishop helped us navigate through all of those different experiences with beautiful reflections, celebrations of the Mass, and his friendly interactions with the people who lived and worked there.”

~ Patrick Dolan, freelance videographer with the diocesan Department of Multimedia Production, on accompanying Bishop Smith to the Holy Land in November 2007 to document the trip


“He was good at remembering details about people that he met around the Diocese, so that when he saw them again, he would ask a question or make a comment that connected to their lives. It was one way that he showed his loving care.”

~ Father Pablo Gadenz, who also served as a priest-secretary under Bishop Smith

 

“That was the first [and last] time he wore them. With that, the kids were on their feet, jumping for joy and pouring their love upon their shepherd.”

 ~ Deacon Jim Knipper, St. Paul Parish, Princeton, explaining Bishop Smith at his last youth rally at Great Adventure before retirement. At the end of the liturgy, the Bishop talked about the vestment and miter he was wearing, explaining these particular vestments were given to him a few years earlier at a World Youth Day celebration. He was instructed that once he returned to his Diocese, the vestment and miter were only to be worn at a liturgy that was centered on youth.

 

“The first day I met Father Smith was the summer of 1973 on a Saturday evening after Mass … I knew, after speaking with him, that he was going to change our parish for the better, and he did. … He never forgot us, and we never forgot him.”

 ~ Barbara Fanning, former parishioner in St. Joseph Parish, Oradell

 

 



Related Stories:
• Friends, family, faithful gather to bid farewell to Bishop Emeritus John M. Smith
• Bishop Smith remembered as a man who served the Lord with gladness
• Bishop Smith leaves legacy of pastoral care




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