Bishop O’Connell shares Sundays of Lent with parish communities

April 18, 2023 at 10:13 p.m.
Bishop O’Connell shares Sundays of Lent with parish communities
Bishop O’Connell shares Sundays of Lent with parish communities

By Mary Clifford Morrell | Contributing Editor

In his Lenten message, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., called the faithful of the Diocese to “focus our attention on the call to holiness that is at the heart of our Lenten journey and at the heart of our life’s journey,” a call he has reiterated during his visits to a different parish each Sunday in Lent while unfolding the Gospel themes of water, light and life.

The Bishop visited Our Lady of the Angels Parish on the First Sunday of Lent; St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell, on the Second Sunday of Lent; St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, and St. Thomas More Parish, Manalapan, on the Third Sunday of Lent: Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and St. Veronica Parish, on the fifth Sunday of Lent.

During his Third Sunday of Lent visits to St. Benedict Parish and St. Thomas More Parish, Bishop O’Connell spoke about the Samaritan woman at the well, saying “Jesus uses this strange occasion and meeting and conversation to make the point that he has something amazing and truly life-giving to offer. … All we need to do is ask him for it,” said Bishop O’Connell.

Following the Mass in St. Benedict Parish, Father Garry Koch, pastor, commented on the Bishop’s reflection about the uniqueness of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the Gospel.

“A Jewish man would not put himself in such a situation,” Father Koch said, and “this is key to understanding the mission of Jesus and offers a challenge to the church as we continue to evangelize the world.”

Father Koch conveyed his parishioners’ enjoyment at seeing the Bishop, noting also that he and Father Augusto Lorenzo Gamalo, parochial vicar, enjoyed hosting the Bishop and his secretary, Father Jean Felicien, after Mass.
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“It is a good time to just share fraternity and enjoy each other’s company,” said Father Koch. 

In St. Thomas More Parish, parishioner Fortunata Guarino expressed joy about the standing room only Mass that included strong participation by young people. The children’s choir provided the music that included pieces sung in Latin and a capella.

Guarino recalled that, before the Mass, Father Daniel Peirano, pastor, presented the Bishop with a gold miter as a gift of appreciation on behalf of the parish community and his leadership of so many people in the Diocese of Trenton.

For the Fourth Sunday of Lent, with Mass celebrated in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Bishop O’Connell reflected on the story of the man born blind in the Gospel of John, saying “Jesus reminds the crowd in the Gospel, ‘while I am in the world, I am the light of the world’ … He connects his identity as ‘light of the world’ with the result of his presence: blindness gives way to sight, darkness to light.  Those touched by the Lord become believers, turn from sin in their lives, and see all things in the light of Christ.”

Father James Grogan, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, echoed the Bishop’s encouragement to turn on the light that is Christ, saying, “Each person is encouraged to be the Light of Christ in our homes, our workplaces, schools, and playgrounds; to be Christ, who is light and love, to all our neighbors.”

Father Grogan noted his parish community was delighted with Bishop O’Connell’s visit. “As the rose vestments this weekend reminded us, this was a cause for great rejoicing!,” he said

During his homily in St. Veronica Church for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Bishop recalled, “Last Sunday, the story of the man born blind highlighted the themes of light as it threads through John’s Gospel, leading to Jesus’ proclamation ‘I am the Light of the World,’” Bishop O’Connell said. “Today, John’s theme is life, leading to Jesus; ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’”

Bishop O’Connell acknowledged the short passage, “And Jesus wept,” from the Gospel story of the Raising of Lazarus, caught his attention because “it gives great insight into the humanity of Jesus, so much like us that he could be overcome with emotion, moved to tears, and it gives great insight into the divinity of Jesus, God made man, who could lift up, consecrate, sanctify human tears and make them part of the life of God.”

Reflecting on the Mass, Father Peter James Alindogan, pastor, acknowledged, “It meant a lot to the St. Veronica community to have Bishop O’Connell visit during Lent, especially after the two-year pandemic experience.

“I felt that the parishioners were reinvigorated by his presence and shared with me how they are privileged during this sacred time to experience his kindness, humor, gentleness and generosity,” Father Alindogan said, noting that the parishioners appreciated the Bishop greeting them as they exited the church, “waving at times, smiling and extending his show of fatherly care.”

Mary Stadnyk, associate editor, contributed information to this story.


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In his Lenten message, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., called the faithful of the Diocese to “focus our attention on the call to holiness that is at the heart of our Lenten journey and at the heart of our life’s journey,” a call he has reiterated during his visits to a different parish each Sunday in Lent while unfolding the Gospel themes of water, light and life.

The Bishop visited Our Lady of the Angels Parish on the First Sunday of Lent; St. Alphonsus Parish, Hopewell, on the Second Sunday of Lent; St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, and St. Thomas More Parish, Manalapan, on the Third Sunday of Lent: Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and St. Veronica Parish, on the fifth Sunday of Lent.

During his Third Sunday of Lent visits to St. Benedict Parish and St. Thomas More Parish, Bishop O’Connell spoke about the Samaritan woman at the well, saying “Jesus uses this strange occasion and meeting and conversation to make the point that he has something amazing and truly life-giving to offer. … All we need to do is ask him for it,” said Bishop O’Connell.

Following the Mass in St. Benedict Parish, Father Garry Koch, pastor, commented on the Bishop’s reflection about the uniqueness of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the Gospel.

“A Jewish man would not put himself in such a situation,” Father Koch said, and “this is key to understanding the mission of Jesus and offers a challenge to the church as we continue to evangelize the world.”

Father Koch conveyed his parishioners’ enjoyment at seeing the Bishop, noting also that he and Father Augusto Lorenzo Gamalo, parochial vicar, enjoyed hosting the Bishop and his secretary, Father Jean Felicien, after Mass.
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“It is a good time to just share fraternity and enjoy each other’s company,” said Father Koch. 

In St. Thomas More Parish, parishioner Fortunata Guarino expressed joy about the standing room only Mass that included strong participation by young people. The children’s choir provided the music that included pieces sung in Latin and a capella.

Guarino recalled that, before the Mass, Father Daniel Peirano, pastor, presented the Bishop with a gold miter as a gift of appreciation on behalf of the parish community and his leadership of so many people in the Diocese of Trenton.

For the Fourth Sunday of Lent, with Mass celebrated in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Bishop O’Connell reflected on the story of the man born blind in the Gospel of John, saying “Jesus reminds the crowd in the Gospel, ‘while I am in the world, I am the light of the world’ … He connects his identity as ‘light of the world’ with the result of his presence: blindness gives way to sight, darkness to light.  Those touched by the Lord become believers, turn from sin in their lives, and see all things in the light of Christ.”

Father James Grogan, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, echoed the Bishop’s encouragement to turn on the light that is Christ, saying, “Each person is encouraged to be the Light of Christ in our homes, our workplaces, schools, and playgrounds; to be Christ, who is light and love, to all our neighbors.”

Father Grogan noted his parish community was delighted with Bishop O’Connell’s visit. “As the rose vestments this weekend reminded us, this was a cause for great rejoicing!,” he said

During his homily in St. Veronica Church for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Bishop recalled, “Last Sunday, the story of the man born blind highlighted the themes of light as it threads through John’s Gospel, leading to Jesus’ proclamation ‘I am the Light of the World,’” Bishop O’Connell said. “Today, John’s theme is life, leading to Jesus; ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’”

Bishop O’Connell acknowledged the short passage, “And Jesus wept,” from the Gospel story of the Raising of Lazarus, caught his attention because “it gives great insight into the humanity of Jesus, so much like us that he could be overcome with emotion, moved to tears, and it gives great insight into the divinity of Jesus, God made man, who could lift up, consecrate, sanctify human tears and make them part of the life of God.”

Reflecting on the Mass, Father Peter James Alindogan, pastor, acknowledged, “It meant a lot to the St. Veronica community to have Bishop O’Connell visit during Lent, especially after the two-year pandemic experience.

“I felt that the parishioners were reinvigorated by his presence and shared with me how they are privileged during this sacred time to experience his kindness, humor, gentleness and generosity,” Father Alindogan said, noting that the parishioners appreciated the Bishop greeting them as they exited the church, “waving at times, smiling and extending his show of fatherly care.”

Mary Stadnyk, associate editor, contributed information to this story.

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