Annual dinner honors priests in their ministry

July 29, 2019 at 12:37 p.m.
Annual dinner honors priests in their ministry
Annual dinner honors priests in their ministry


By Joseph Sapia | Correspondent

In a crowded banquet room in Spring Lake Heights, men in black mingled among drinks and hors d’oeuvres being served.

“It’s really very casual,” said Gary Seals, chairman of the evening event, which included a dinner following the cocktail hour. “This just gives them a time to relax, chat with old friends.”

The “them” was priests from the Diocese of Trenton, being honored at the annual Pride in our Priests Dinner, held April 11 in Doolan’s Shore Club.

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., was also in attendance.

“This is not a night for speeches,” said Daniel Rossi, N.J. state deputy of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic men’s group that sponsors the event. “This is a night we honor, respect, show our love for our priests.”

The event, held for the past 20 or 25 years, according to those involved, is open to all priests residing in the diocese: diocesan priests, religious order priests, or retired priests, Rossi said. It is popular; this year’s event, for example, drew 450 people, including about 120 priests.

Priests are pretty regular attendees, said Rossi, a parishioner of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square.

“I think they look forward every year,” Rossi said.

“They do make a point of putting it in their calendars,” said Bishop O’Connell. “The priests do appreciate it. You can tell by the number who come. To get the priests out on a week night is a major feat,” he said.

Priests are wrapped up with such things as meetings, pastoral work and, now, recovery from Superstorm Sandy, said Msgr. Edward J. Arnister, pastor of St. Rose Parish, Belmar.

But Msgr. Arnister is a regular dinner attendee.

“Been to most of them,” Msgr. Arnister said. “It’s always a wonderful fraternity, source of support for the priests of the diocese.”

And it is a reunion, Msgr. Arnister said.

Carmen Damato, Grand Knight of Council 6522 in Lacey, said a few priests he has worked with over the years have moved elsewhere in the diocese, so “I see them here” at the dinner.

“Old home week,” Damato said.

Also, it gives people a chance to show gratitude for priests, “show what they do for us” and show “respect for their status as a priest,” said Damato, who lives in Berkeley.

“These are our priests, we love them,” said Jill White, who lives in Hamilton and whose husband, Jim, is active with the Knights on local, state, and national levels.

Maria Lipenta of Merchantville, whose husband, Andrew, is secretary of the state council, said the dinner is a “fun” event. Because of her husband’s office, they go to these dinners in all five New Jersey dioceses.

Lipenta added attendees are also saying, “Thank you so much for your vocation.”

The dinner is also a way for the clergy to thank the Knights “for all the wonderful work they do for the Church,” Msgr. Arnister said.

“The Knights do a tremendous amount” of work, said Msgr. Vincent Gartland, pastor of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville.

Father Edward Jawidzik, parochial vicar of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Freehold, said the Knights do much charity work “for the needy around the world” that people do not know about.

“It’s all based on the Gospel,” said Father Jawidzik, who was a Knight before he became a priest and has served the last nine years as chaplain of Council 1672 in Freehold. “If a priest has a project going,” the Knights turn out to help.

The Knights perform outstanding service, so it “gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude” to them, Bishop O’Connell said.

At the dinner, the Knights also presented the diocese’s Holy Innocents Society with $10,000 for its work with disabled children.

The Pride in Our Priests Dinner is funded by the 70 Knights councils, composed of more than 11,000 members, in the diocese’s four counties of Burlington, Monmouth, Mercer and Ocean.

“It’s a great way to thank the priests for all they do for us,” said Seals, who lives in Eatontown. “It gives a chance to show our appreciation. The priests appreciate it and it’s great we can support them in that fashion.”

“I think the priests really enjoy it,” Lipenta said.

 

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By Joseph Sapia | Correspondent

In a crowded banquet room in Spring Lake Heights, men in black mingled among drinks and hors d’oeuvres being served.

“It’s really very casual,” said Gary Seals, chairman of the evening event, which included a dinner following the cocktail hour. “This just gives them a time to relax, chat with old friends.”

The “them” was priests from the Diocese of Trenton, being honored at the annual Pride in our Priests Dinner, held April 11 in Doolan’s Shore Club.

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., was also in attendance.

“This is not a night for speeches,” said Daniel Rossi, N.J. state deputy of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic men’s group that sponsors the event. “This is a night we honor, respect, show our love for our priests.”

The event, held for the past 20 or 25 years, according to those involved, is open to all priests residing in the diocese: diocesan priests, religious order priests, or retired priests, Rossi said. It is popular; this year’s event, for example, drew 450 people, including about 120 priests.

Priests are pretty regular attendees, said Rossi, a parishioner of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square.

“I think they look forward every year,” Rossi said.

“They do make a point of putting it in their calendars,” said Bishop O’Connell. “The priests do appreciate it. You can tell by the number who come. To get the priests out on a week night is a major feat,” he said.

Priests are wrapped up with such things as meetings, pastoral work and, now, recovery from Superstorm Sandy, said Msgr. Edward J. Arnister, pastor of St. Rose Parish, Belmar.

But Msgr. Arnister is a regular dinner attendee.

“Been to most of them,” Msgr. Arnister said. “It’s always a wonderful fraternity, source of support for the priests of the diocese.”

And it is a reunion, Msgr. Arnister said.

Carmen Damato, Grand Knight of Council 6522 in Lacey, said a few priests he has worked with over the years have moved elsewhere in the diocese, so “I see them here” at the dinner.

“Old home week,” Damato said.

Also, it gives people a chance to show gratitude for priests, “show what they do for us” and show “respect for their status as a priest,” said Damato, who lives in Berkeley.

“These are our priests, we love them,” said Jill White, who lives in Hamilton and whose husband, Jim, is active with the Knights on local, state, and national levels.

Maria Lipenta of Merchantville, whose husband, Andrew, is secretary of the state council, said the dinner is a “fun” event. Because of her husband’s office, they go to these dinners in all five New Jersey dioceses.

Lipenta added attendees are also saying, “Thank you so much for your vocation.”

The dinner is also a way for the clergy to thank the Knights “for all the wonderful work they do for the Church,” Msgr. Arnister said.

“The Knights do a tremendous amount” of work, said Msgr. Vincent Gartland, pastor of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville.

Father Edward Jawidzik, parochial vicar of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish, Freehold, said the Knights do much charity work “for the needy around the world” that people do not know about.

“It’s all based on the Gospel,” said Father Jawidzik, who was a Knight before he became a priest and has served the last nine years as chaplain of Council 1672 in Freehold. “If a priest has a project going,” the Knights turn out to help.

The Knights perform outstanding service, so it “gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude” to them, Bishop O’Connell said.

At the dinner, the Knights also presented the diocese’s Holy Innocents Society with $10,000 for its work with disabled children.

The Pride in Our Priests Dinner is funded by the 70 Knights councils, composed of more than 11,000 members, in the diocese’s four counties of Burlington, Monmouth, Mercer and Ocean.

“It’s a great way to thank the priests for all they do for us,” said Seals, who lives in Eatontown. “It gives a chance to show our appreciation. The priests appreciate it and it’s great we can support them in that fashion.”

“I think the priests really enjoy it,” Lipenta said.

 

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