Trenton faithful celebrate joyful arrival of NEC’s Seton Route pilgrims

May 31, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.
Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., holds the monstrance that is traveling on the Seton route to Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Revival. Mike Ehrmann photo
Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., holds the monstrance that is traveling on the Seton route to Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Revival. Mike Ehrmann photo

By Angelica Chicaiza, Correspondent and Staff Reports

Updated May 31, 2024

When those carrying Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage first arrived in the Diocese May 28, they were welcomed with a joyful, vibrant Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

The vast nave of the Diocese’s Mother Church was filled to near capacity with an estimated 1,000 congregants for the Spanish-language Mass presided over by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and celebrated by more than a dozen local and visiting priests. Hundreds more of the faithful watched the livestream of the Mass on the Diocese’s digital platforms, available with English translation.

PHOTO GALLERY: May 28, 2024: St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton

All those gathered had fixed their focus on the arrival of the perpetual pilgrims who were traveling the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which began May 18 from Hartford, Connecticut. Part of the larger revival initiative, the NEP involves multiple routes traversing the country, engaging local communities in prayer and devotion as it heads to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-24.

Just outside the Cathedral doors before the Mass, Bishop O’Connell greeted the pilgrims and joyfully held the Seton Route monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.

The Cathedral Mass was the first of four events in the Diocese of Trenton in which Jesus in the Eucharist was discussed and celebrated. Like the events that were to stretch over the next three days, the Cathedral gathering concluded with a Eucharistic procession that saw the faithful, carrying candles, flow out into the streets of the state capital just as twilight fell.

Earlier in the day, the Seton Route pilgrims had visited the Metuchen Diocese including St. Augustine of Canterbury, Kendall Park, where Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, the Diocese of Trenton’s vicar general, and Father Martin O’Reilly, diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage co-chair and pastor of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown, visited and greeted the pilgrims before heading to Trenton.

In addition to New Jersey, the Seton Route will have stopped in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia and Ohio – a trek of 1,500 miles, many on foot -- before it reaches Indianapolis. The Seton Route pilgrims who visited Trenton include five young adults accompanied by Father Roger Landry, who was one to have suggested the pilgrimage and who carried the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance along the route.

Purpose of Pilgrimage

Msgr. Joseph Roldan, Cathedral rector and principal celebrant, said during his homily, “A recent study stated that 70% of Catholics do not believe in the True Presence of the Eucharist.

“Well, where are they? They are not here, because all of you have decided to participate today because you believe.”

Msgr. Roldan stressed the importance of faith in the Eucharist as more than a symbol.

Dominic Carstens, a perpetual pilgrim from St. Philip Parish, Rolling Ground, Wisconsin, said he believes it was God’s will that he join the pilgrimage: “I didn’t know what I was doing right after college and so I just cast my net onto the waters to see what sort of fish the Lord brought in.”

A lifelong Catholic, Carstens seeks to deepen his faith and show others the presence of Jesus. “An encounter with Christ ... That's why we're here. See what I mean?” he asked, pointing to the people walking in procession after the Mass.  “Wow! Jesus is here. He is here, physically present among us.”

Teachable Moments

Before the Mass, speakers addressed different groups on various aspects of the Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the True Presence of Christ.

Belem Perez, administrative assistant in the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life, and Amanda Kleinmann began their session for teens with a song about trusting God. Perez emphasized, “The Church recognizes Jesus in the Eucharist, and this celebration is an historical moment for all of us.”

Speaking to children, Father Jorge Bedoya, pastor of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Beverly, asked, “How do you know that this bread that looks like a big cookie is Jesus?”

He explained the importance of Mass, where the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood during the Consecration.

In another presentation, Oratorian Father Kevin Kelly, administrator of St. Joseph Parish, Raritan, (Diocese of Metuchen) addressed men on understanding Scripture, highlighting Jesus’ words: “This is my Body.”

Diana Hernandez, a missionary from Bonds of Marian Love with St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Hightstown, addressed women, encouraging them to seek Jesus’ healing instead of relying solely on themselves. She said, “Jesus wants to heal you. He can deal with anything and everything, but we have to give him the opportunity.”

Prioritizing Christ

Janelyn Rodriguez of the Cathedral Parish said of the event, “It definitely revived something in me. When the Eucharist in the monstrance came out from the shuttle bus and I could see everyone instantly drop to their knees and began to reverence Jesus --wow! And then the song ‘Dios esta aqui’ (God is here) was sung and hearing everyone sing along and see so many worshipping Jesus, I truly felt his presence.”

Trish Teague from St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, said of the pilgrimage and the revival, “This is also to get a Catholic exposure out in the world; following Jesus ... so many Catholics don't believe that that's the True Presence — they've lost that."

Laura Mendez from Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, offered that those who turn away from the faith “think that Christ is not going to forgive us for what we do. I know many of us who are Catholic but haven’t returned to church since we were a kid may (feel embarrassed to go back) or they may feel judged.

“But then you come here– to events like this -- and you question yourself because little by little Christ is going to be there for you.”

Andrew Craven from St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, attended with his wife and eight children. He emphasized prioritizing Christ, saying, ““Christ came to suffer with us, so it is not like we are called to be a part of what is easy. We have to prioritize the parts in our faith that are hard too. Christ blesses that too. That is how we get to know him.”

Brothers and Cathedral parishioners Chris and Vinicio Mogrovejo appreciated the diversity and unity of the gathering. “I’m glad I came. ... I felt closer to Jesus,” Chris said.

Vinicio added, “I hope people see the unity of different races coming together for Jesus.”


Father Roger Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass. is a Seton route pilgrim and the only priest who is making the 1500-mile trek to Indianapolis. Here, Father Landry prepares to hand the monstrance that is traveling on the Seton route to Bishop O'Connell before the start of Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral. Mike Ehrmann photo

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

PHOTO GALLERY: May 30, 2024: Lower Trenton Bridge

PHOTO GALLERY: May 30, 2024: St. Mary Church, Bordentown

PHOTO GALLERY: May 29, 2024: St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin (evening)

PHOTO GALLERY: May 29, 2024: St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin (morning)

RELATED STORIES:

Diocese treasures the 'gift and grace' of His Presence

Bishop reminds faithful that ‘We are on a pilgrimage of our lives’

National Eucharistic Pilgrimage comes to youth of Manahawkin


Updated May 31, 2024

When those carrying Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage first arrived in the Diocese May 28, they were welcomed with a joyful, vibrant Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

The vast nave of the Diocese’s Mother Church was filled to near capacity with an estimated 1,000 congregants for the Spanish-language Mass presided over by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and celebrated by more than a dozen local and visiting priests. Hundreds more of the faithful watched the livestream of the Mass on the Diocese’s digital platforms, available with English translation.

PHOTO GALLERY: May 28, 2024: St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton

All those gathered had fixed their focus on the arrival of the perpetual pilgrims who were traveling the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which began May 18 from Hartford, Connecticut. Part of the larger revival initiative, the NEP involves multiple routes traversing the country, engaging local communities in prayer and devotion as it heads to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-24.

Just outside the Cathedral doors before the Mass, Bishop O’Connell greeted the pilgrims and joyfully held the Seton Route monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.

The Cathedral Mass was the first of four events in the Diocese of Trenton in which Jesus in the Eucharist was discussed and celebrated. Like the events that were to stretch over the next three days, the Cathedral gathering concluded with a Eucharistic procession that saw the faithful, carrying candles, flow out into the streets of the state capital just as twilight fell.

Earlier in the day, the Seton Route pilgrims had visited the Metuchen Diocese including St. Augustine of Canterbury, Kendall Park, where Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, the Diocese of Trenton’s vicar general, and Father Martin O’Reilly, diocesan Eucharistic Pilgrimage co-chair and pastor of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown, visited and greeted the pilgrims before heading to Trenton.

In addition to New Jersey, the Seton Route will have stopped in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia and Ohio – a trek of 1,500 miles, many on foot -- before it reaches Indianapolis. The Seton Route pilgrims who visited Trenton include five young adults accompanied by Father Roger Landry, who was one to have suggested the pilgrimage and who carried the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance along the route.

Purpose of Pilgrimage

Msgr. Joseph Roldan, Cathedral rector and principal celebrant, said during his homily, “A recent study stated that 70% of Catholics do not believe in the True Presence of the Eucharist.

“Well, where are they? They are not here, because all of you have decided to participate today because you believe.”

Msgr. Roldan stressed the importance of faith in the Eucharist as more than a symbol.

Dominic Carstens, a perpetual pilgrim from St. Philip Parish, Rolling Ground, Wisconsin, said he believes it was God’s will that he join the pilgrimage: “I didn’t know what I was doing right after college and so I just cast my net onto the waters to see what sort of fish the Lord brought in.”

A lifelong Catholic, Carstens seeks to deepen his faith and show others the presence of Jesus. “An encounter with Christ ... That's why we're here. See what I mean?” he asked, pointing to the people walking in procession after the Mass.  “Wow! Jesus is here. He is here, physically present among us.”

Teachable Moments

Before the Mass, speakers addressed different groups on various aspects of the Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the True Presence of Christ.

Belem Perez, administrative assistant in the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life, and Amanda Kleinmann began their session for teens with a song about trusting God. Perez emphasized, “The Church recognizes Jesus in the Eucharist, and this celebration is an historical moment for all of us.”

Speaking to children, Father Jorge Bedoya, pastor of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Beverly, asked, “How do you know that this bread that looks like a big cookie is Jesus?”

He explained the importance of Mass, where the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood during the Consecration.

In another presentation, Oratorian Father Kevin Kelly, administrator of St. Joseph Parish, Raritan, (Diocese of Metuchen) addressed men on understanding Scripture, highlighting Jesus’ words: “This is my Body.”

Diana Hernandez, a missionary from Bonds of Marian Love with St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Hightstown, addressed women, encouraging them to seek Jesus’ healing instead of relying solely on themselves. She said, “Jesus wants to heal you. He can deal with anything and everything, but we have to give him the opportunity.”

Prioritizing Christ

Janelyn Rodriguez of the Cathedral Parish said of the event, “It definitely revived something in me. When the Eucharist in the monstrance came out from the shuttle bus and I could see everyone instantly drop to their knees and began to reverence Jesus --wow! And then the song ‘Dios esta aqui’ (God is here) was sung and hearing everyone sing along and see so many worshipping Jesus, I truly felt his presence.”

Trish Teague from St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, Hamilton, said of the pilgrimage and the revival, “This is also to get a Catholic exposure out in the world; following Jesus ... so many Catholics don't believe that that's the True Presence — they've lost that."

Laura Mendez from Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, offered that those who turn away from the faith “think that Christ is not going to forgive us for what we do. I know many of us who are Catholic but haven’t returned to church since we were a kid may (feel embarrassed to go back) or they may feel judged.

“But then you come here– to events like this -- and you question yourself because little by little Christ is going to be there for you.”

Andrew Craven from St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, attended with his wife and eight children. He emphasized prioritizing Christ, saying, ““Christ came to suffer with us, so it is not like we are called to be a part of what is easy. We have to prioritize the parts in our faith that are hard too. Christ blesses that too. That is how we get to know him.”

Brothers and Cathedral parishioners Chris and Vinicio Mogrovejo appreciated the diversity and unity of the gathering. “I’m glad I came. ... I felt closer to Jesus,” Chris said.

Vinicio added, “I hope people see the unity of different races coming together for Jesus.”


Father Roger Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass. is a Seton route pilgrim and the only priest who is making the 1500-mile trek to Indianapolis. Here, Father Landry prepares to hand the monstrance that is traveling on the Seton route to Bishop O'Connell before the start of Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral. Mike Ehrmann photo

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

PHOTO GALLERY: May 30, 2024: Lower Trenton Bridge

PHOTO GALLERY: May 30, 2024: St. Mary Church, Bordentown

PHOTO GALLERY: May 29, 2024: St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin (evening)

PHOTO GALLERY: May 29, 2024: St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin (morning)

RELATED STORIES:

Diocese treasures the 'gift and grace' of His Presence

Bishop reminds faithful that ‘We are on a pilgrimage of our lives’

National Eucharistic Pilgrimage comes to youth of Manahawkin

Have a news tip? Email [email protected] or Call/Text 360-922-3092

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