Current Affairs

Urgent Call to Action!

Diocese of Trenton

Office of Communications and Media

701 Lawrenceville Road • Trenton, New Jersey 08648

Telephone (908) 347-1137 • [email protected]


A call to advocacy for Catholic school inclusion in HEROES ACT funding

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., shared the following message May 14 to all members of the diocesan community:

Today, the Bishops of NJ and I learned that the House Democrats released The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, the fourth phase of economic stimulus relief or CARES 4. 

H.R.6800 includes several provisions that would protect, and even expand, funding for programs that Congress established in the last CARES Act, such as an extension of unemployment benefits until January 31, 2021, expansion of the SBA payroll protection program loans to include all nonprofits regardless of size, and increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition assistance program. However, unlike the previous CARES Act, H.R.6800 WOULD PROHIBIT NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS INCLUDING OUR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN THE DIOCESE OF TRENTON FROM ACCESSING ANY PORTION OF THE PROPOSED $200 BILLION INCLUDED IN THE LEGISLATION FOR EDUCATION.

Our Catholic schools struggle to stay open as it is, and the pandemic will impact them negatively as our neighboring dioceses in New Jersey have revealed.  Please visit or click here to contact our New Jersey Senators and Congressmen using the message template there.  We need to work quickly to ask their support.  Thank you and God bless you in these stressful days.

Respectfully yours in the Lord,

Bishop O’Connell

Petition New Jersey Governor to Reconsider Complete Closure of Religious Houses of Worship

Some parishioners may wish to to express their wishes that religious houses of worship should be given at least as much consideration as liquor stores, lottery sales, big box home repair centers, etc. when determining safe occupancy and social distancing requirements. 

This petition is organized by NJ State Senator Mike Doherty and can be signed online.

Several parishioners have reported difficulty in sending the governor emails regarding the closure of houses of worship. At times, for example, the state senate webpage appears to have been offline over the last 24 hours. 

An article from appears at this link:

The petition can be found here:

Both the governor and Cardinal Tobin have pushed back on the petition, as we might expect from their previous comments on the issue. 

P.S. It looks as though the petition has now been amended to ask for OUTDOOR religious services. Maybe there is some negotiating going on behind the scenes. 

Please let our elected officials know what you think, whatever position you take. 

Zoom ?

Bishop O'Connell has reported one parish's recent distasteful experience with the video streaming platform "Zoom."

The videoconferencing app “Zoom” has become the most popular videoconferencing platform, especially during the pandemic shut down.

Its popularity has resulted in more extensive scrutiny of its privacy and data-sharing policies. Despite “Zoom’s” assurances, intruders have been hacking and crashing meetings and classes held over “Zoom” and infiltrating them with offensive and pornographic content. This happened today in one of our parishes during a live-steamed Sunday Mass using “Zoom,” when racist statements and pornographic images —- a experience labeled “Zoombombing” —- appeared on family television screens during the Gloria. That parish had actually paid “Zoom” to guarantee privacy as a “closed meeting!”

“Zoom” is being selected as the platform of choice because it is very easy to use and is without cost or, at least, cheap to use. Again, despite its assertions, “Zoom” has been cited for selling user data and other content obtained from its users. Platform content becomes the property of “Zoom Video Communications, Inc.” with privacy and confidentiality cannot be guaranteed and has been reported to have been violated.

In addition, “Zoom” is on record as a promoter and supporter of Planned Parenthood and supports abortion rights. Its CEO Eric Yuan Is reported to have spoken out with blatant disregard for human life if it is not “useful.”

“Zoom” users (business, schools, parishes, chanceries and dioceses, etc.) are being informed (Business Insider, NYTimes, CNN, Catholic World Report, National Catholic Reporter) about these concerns and some have stopped employing its services, among them US governmental agencies, NY City School District, Elon Musk’s Company Space X, Diocese of Gallup, etc


Sobering News for Holy Week and Easter

The Vatican and our bishop have just issued various instructions for the Holy Week and Easter Services this year.

I've excerpted them below; the full texts will be published in this weekend's bulletin (available online.)

At the risk of overly simplifying and subject to correction, here are my take-home points:

  • Public liturgies for Holy Week and Easter Sunday are cancelled this year. Many of the liturgies are fixed by calendar year and cannot be postponed, so they will be performed in private by Bishop O'Connell and elsewhere where possible. Live streaming may be done.
  • There can be no outdoor gatherings at/around/near church on the days of the Triduum.
  • Some things can be postponed: distribution of palms and oils, Christian Initiation of Adults, Renewal of Priestly commitments.

Bishop O'Connell's decree:


In time of COVID-19

As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, I promulgate the following decree regarding the liturgies of Palm Sunday and Holy Week throughout the territorial Diocese of Trenton to assist the clergy and the faithful in the spiritual celebration of the Paschal Mysteries.


No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

The Mass for Palm Sunday will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation, with palms blessed, and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan websites at 11 am on Sunday, April 5, 2020.

The Mass for Palm Sunday may be celebrated without a congregation by the pastor/parish priest in parish churches with live-stream capability; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam; pastors should also notify the Diocesan Office of Communications so that a Diocesan calendar/schedule of events might be posted for access by the faithful of the Diocese.

Blessed palms can be made available for distribution at a later date.


The Chrism Mass will be postponed and re-scheduled for another date/time with the renewal of priestly commitment and the blessing/consecration of oils occurring at that time.

Oils/chrism from the current supplies (currently in use) may continue to be used until a new supply is blessed/consecrated and made available.

 PASCHAL TRIDUUM: the following liturgical directives are to be observed in accordance with the “Decree in Time of COVID-19” issued on March 19, 2020 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff for the year 2020 only.

The Paschal Triduum cannot be transferred to another time.


No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

Televised or live-stream broadcasts should be live (not recorded).

The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan websites at 7 pm on Thursday, April 9, 2020.

The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper may be celebrated without a congregation by the pastor/parish priest in parish churches with live-stream capability; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam; pastors should also notify the Diocesan Office of Communications so that a Diocesan calendar/schedule of events might be posted for access by the faithful of the Diocese.

During the Evening Mass for the Lord’s Supper:

  • The Washing of the Feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted;
  • The usual procession with the Blessed Sacrament to a place of repose is to be omitted and the Blessed Sacrament should be kept in the tabernacle, as usual.


No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

The Commemoration/Celebration of the Lord’s Passion will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan websites at 3 pm on Friday, April 10, 2020.

The Commemoration/Celebration of the Lord’s Passion may be celebrated without a congregation by the pastor/parish priest in parish churches with live-stream capability; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam; pastors should also notify the Diocesan Office of Communications so that a Diocesan calendar/schedule of events might be posted for access by the faithful of the Diocese.

A special commemoration in the General Intercessions for the sick, the dead and for those who feel lost or dismayed will be developed by the Office of Worship and sent to the parishes for mandated use.


No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

The Easter Vigil will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan websites at 7 pm on Saturday, April 11, 2020.

The Easter Vigil may be celebrated without a congregation by the pastor/parish priest in parish churches with live-stream capability; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam; pastors should also notify the Diocesan Office of Communications so that a Diocesan calendar/schedule of events might be posted for access by the faithful of the Diocese.

During the Easter Vigil:

  • The preparation and lighting of the fire is omitted
  • The paschal candle is lit without procession followed by the recited Easter Proclamation
  • The Liturgy of the Word takes place
  • The Baptismal Liturgy is only the renewal of Baptismal Promises; a symbolic (small) of Holy Water may be blessed but holy water fonts should remain empty
  • The Rite of Christian Initiation and/or Reception into Full Communion will be postponed and re-scheduled once restrictions are lifted


No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

Mass for Easter Sunday will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan websites at 10 am on Sunday, April 12, 2020.

Mass for Easter Sunday may be celebrated without a congregation by the pastor/parish priest in parish churches with live-stream capability; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam; pastors should also notify the Diocesan Office of Communications so that a Diocesan calendar/schedule of events might be posted for access by the faithful of the Diocese.

Priests are otherwise asked to celebrate Easter Sunday without a congregation.

Given by mandate of the Bishop, Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M., J.C.D.,  March 20, 2020, for the Diocese of Trenton.


No general absolution is to be given at this time; if that changes, it will be communicated / announced.

Regarding Plenary Indulgence:

The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will* to fulfill the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions), as soon as possible.

Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.

This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.

The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).

(*fulfillment of the usual conditions may not be immediately possible; therefore, the will to fulfill them suffices with the intention to fulfill the usual conditions “as soon as possible.”)

Summer Heat and Electric Power

0037-0505-3017-2458Well, so far one brief power outage this morning already at around 11:30 AM. Power is back on and we already have the air conditioning cranked for an afternoon wedding Saturday and our 5 PM Vigil Mass. Our church is very well insulated, but the large square surface of windows conduct heat from outside (don't touch them in sunshine!) so the air conditioning works a bit harder to compensate. On the other hand, we enjoy the warming effects of sunshine during the winter, so heating bills are lower.

Please be careful during the heat. Stay home if you have a medical condition making you susceptible to heat exhaustion. Should the power go out again and our air conditioning goes down, we'll do the best we can, but we may have to cancel mass. Holding it outdoors isn't even a reasonable alternative!

Hopefully, see you later today!

P.S. There isn't even a lot of beach traffic on Ward Avenue!


No Change for the English Version of the "Our Father" For Now

Bloch-SermonOnTheMountThe secular news media has given a lot of recent attention to the pope's approval of changes to the wording of the "Our Father" and the "Gloria." The verse the pope and others found problematic was "and lead us not into temptation" changed in the Italian to "do not abandon us to temptation."

Trenton's Diocesan Office of Worship points out that the changes are approved for the Italian missal texts and that although the same changes had  been approved for the translation of the New American Bible (2002), the texts used at Mass in English speaking countries remain unchanged for now.

The entire text of the Our Father requires catechesis for proper understanding, so personally I have a bit of trouble understanding what all the fuss is about. Does God either abandon us or tempt us?


Scammer Alert for Parishioners

DevilHornsThe Diocese of Trenton and the Atlantic Highlands Police Department have issued cautions about scammer(s) who are targeting church parishioners using the name of the parish pastor.

The email seems to come from the pastor and will ask the recipient to purchase gift cards for a worthy purpose. In Atlantic Highlands, the scammer then told the victim to send him  the gift card numbers, as the pastor was away from the parish for a while. 

Over the weekend, a member of Holy Cross staff received an email purporting to be from me saying that I wanted to reward some children who have been especially good at mass and asking if she could purchase some gift cards. Luckily, she contacted me rather than the "reply to" email and we avoided a problem. The scammer used the staff members correct first name, even though this was not obvious from the parish email address. 

The scam has nothing to do with any of the legitimate sources of online donation the parish uses. If there is any question about an email received from Holy Cross or one of the staff members, please call us to verify its authenticity, or call the local police if you have been victimized.

Several parishes around the diocese have been targeted, as have parishes in Philadelphia. Here is a link to the Atlantic Highlands article from the Monmouth Journal.

I am sure the children who attend mass will be rewarded, but not with Amazon Gift Cards!

Jesus warned us the children of darkness are crafty and persistent. Help us shine some light on this scam!

Bishop of Albany Cautions Governor Cuomo on Reproductive Health Act and Magisterial Language

Bishop-scharfenberger-albanyGovernor Andrew Cuomo often cites his Catholic faith and called us to stand with Pope Francis against the death penalty, but not six weeks later signed and applauded the Reproductive Health Act in New York State.

Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger penned an open letter to Governor Cuomo, which about says it all:


Dear Governor Cuomo,

Although in your recent State of the State address you cited your Catholic faith and said we should “stand with Pope Francis,” your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church. Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core. By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret.

The so-called Reproductive Health Act (RHA) will expand abortion under the pretenses of choice and progress, which, in fact, it will do little to enhance. At the same time, this legislation threatens to rupture the communion between the Catholic faith and those who support the RHA even while professing to follow the Church, something that troubles me greatly as a pastor.

Contrary to what its proponents say, the RHA goes far beyond Roe vs. Wade in its aggressive extremism. Granting non-doctors permission to perform abortions does nothing to advance the security and health of women. Condoning coerced or involuntary abortions by repealing criminal sanctions even in cases where a perpetrator seeks to make his partner “un-pregnant” through an act of physical violence does not represent any kind of progress in the choice, safety or health of women. Removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion is abject cruelty, something most people of conscience would deem inhumane for even a dog or cat. Finally, allowing late-term abortions is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will.

It is very difficult to understand how you can align yourself with Pope Francis and so vehemently advocate such profoundly destructive legislation.

I find myself wondering how it can be viewed as “progress” to have gone from a society working to make abortion “rare” to one that urges women to “shout your abortion” as some advocates of this bill boldly announce.

How is it progress to ignore the harm that this will do, not only to innocent infants, born and unborn, but to their mothers? Does the heartache of so many New York women who have been pained by their abortion decisions matter? Is anyone listening to them? How is it really “pro-choice” when a law, which claims to guarantee choice, moves to expand only one option for women?

If abortion is deemed a fundamental right in New York State, will the State then still be able to issue licenses to pro-life nurses or physicians? Will health facilities which do not provide abortions be certified? Will the law allow that even one dollar be given to maternity services without offering women the “choice” of abortion? These are unanswered questions, but I shudder to think of the consequences this law will wreak. You have already uttered harsh threats about the welcome you think pro-lifers are not entitled to in our state. Now you are demonstrating that you mean to write your warning into law. Will being pro-life one day be a hate crime in the State of New York?

Our young people especially, who have seen their sonograms and who follow the discoveries the sciences have made, know the lies and the despair that proponents of such dangerous and death-dealing legislation are promulgating, even if blindly or unwittingly.

Giving up on life is no excuse for us as a responsible and compassionate people. In so doing, we evade the challenge of accompanying women and the families they are trying to nurture on the long journey. They deserve our courageous and ongoing support in creating conditions under which they will be free to bear and provide for their children.

As a society, we can and must do better. The teaching and intuition of our common faith readies us to help. It is an essential part of our mission to support the lives of all, especially the voiceless, the most vulnerable and marginalized, as Pope Francis always reminds us to do.

Let’s not bequeath to our children a culture of death, but together build a more humane society for the lives of all of our fellow citizens.

Mr. Cuomo, do not build this Death Star.

Sincerely yours,

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany


Bishop Scharfenberger is to be commended for his clear and concise letter, a repetition of church teaching on the matter of grave moral evil and abortion. The bishop's letter makes clear the governor does not teach Catholic doctrine and had better curb his language when embracing his Catholic faith and immoral legislation under the pope's name.

Politics, Faith and Abortion: A Bad Mix

Cuomo_RHA2New York governor Andrew Cuomo signs The Reproductive Health Bill , codifying the decisions of Roe v. Wade into New York law. Its provisions allow unrestricted access to abortion until 24 weeks of age and after that in cases of non-viability of the fetus, or to protect the life/health of the mother. Partial birth abortions would seem allowed under the provisions of the law, since the "life/health" of the mother has been broadly interpreted to include psychological distress over carrying even a healthy baby. 

The bill was passed by a newly controlling Democratic majority in the state senate and fueled by fears that a conservative leaning Supreme Court bench could reverse provisions of Roe v. Wade. Happily, many states are restricting access to abortion, permitting abortion only in the early stages of pregnancy. Polls show that most Americans support such restrictive measures, regardless of religious affiliation. 

Given the devastating impact abortion has had on racial minorities, especially in New York City, the photo taken at the bill signing is ironic. 


March For Life 2019

An intrepid contingent of pilgrims left by bus from Holy Cross to participate in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. today. The weather always presents a challenge, especially these days when forecasters seem so prone to maximize the potential of every flake of snow into a major blizzard.

The experience of being part of so many people who are pro-life is one not to be missed! We should have some photos later in the day.


Bayley Seton Hospital Staten Island, NY

Photo of the former Bayley Seton Hospital on Staten Island, re-named by the Sisters of Charity when they took control of the hospital from the US Public Health Service in 1980 to honor their foundress Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton and her father Dr. Richard Bayley.

The campus has been sold and resold since then but the cross still remains on the front of the main building. An urban explorer website of abandoned buildings photographed the prayer plaque on a wall of one of the abandoned buildings.


BayleySetonCross on the Building from the Bayley Seton Days

President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Renews Commitment for Greater Effectiveness and Transparency in Disciplining Bishops

The President of the USCCB has reiterated his commitment to work with Pope Francis in establishing mechanisms to improve the effectiveness of child protection procedures and oversight of adults working in the church including seminarians. Read the full text of the Cardinal's letter which should give us all encouragement in this time of testing for the church.


" The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church's firm foundation is Jesus Christ. "

Full Text of Cardinal DiNardo's Letter


One of my favorite themes in art is Christ on the Sea of Galilee. Eugene Delacroix painted three versions and one of the stolen Rembrandt's depicted it as well.

Missing Rembrandt
Rembrandt's Missing Painting

Missing Rembrandt
Missing Rembrandt

Missing Rembrandt
The Delacroix Version In My Office

Common Sense with Communion and Communicable Illness

Since the flu season is upon us, it is important that we take simple precautions to minimize the chance of spreading it during our Masses. 

Some common sense guidelines are worth repeating: 1) If you are experiencing the effects of any potentially contagious illness, refrain from taking communion from the common chalice. 2) If you are coughing repeatedly and not feeling well, it is sensible to stay home and not attend Mass until you are well. 3) If you have a cough and runny nose (not allergies) it would be prudent to refrain from shaking hands.

Here is a recent guideline from the bishop's office:

With the guidance of the bishop it is the role of the pastor to judge whatever measures are needed to ensure the well-being of his parish community and to take every opportunity to remind the faithful that they should refrain from receiving Communion from the chalice if they are ill.  The sick are not obliged to attend Mass and should use prudence and good judgment before coming into contact with others.


Nine Days for Life

This morning we began praying the Novena for Life after morning mass. Please join us or participate online by clicking the link below to reach the website of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) for the materials.

This year, for the first time ever, our president will address marchers at the March for Life in Washington, DC via satellite hookup from the Oval Office. There are still seats on the bus Holy Cross has chartered for the day trip tomorrow (Friday). Call our office to reserve and pay for your seat now.

Joining together to pray for the protection of human life at all its stages is a crucial contemporary mission. 


Nine Days for Life

Pope Francis Offers Prayers For Healing and Consolation

The Vatican released a copy of the telegram sent to the Archbishop of San Antonio regarding the church shootings in Texas.


The Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller
Archbishop of San Antonio

Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of senseless violence perpetrated at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the wounded, to the members of the congregation, and to the entire local community. He asks our Lord Jesus Christ to console all who mourn and to grant them the spiritual strength that triumphs over violence and hatred by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

Mary, First Among All Saints

Adaptation of A Classic Painting, Mary Mother of Mercy, Showing Crowd From A Modern World Youth Day

On this holy day, let us implore Mary for her intercession for God's help to keep us safe, especially those who are entrusted with the public safety and the common good. Let us give thanksgiving for those who protect us and ask God's protection on caregivers and protectors.


Trump Administration Reverses Obama's Contraceptive Pill and Procedure Mandate

The US Bishops hailed the Trump administrations new regulations which restore more broad exemptions from the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act to religious groups and organizations.

This should finally allow the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups who have been challenging the regulations to come to reconciliation.

The USCCB's statement regarding the broadening of the exemption read in part:

 "Such an exemption is no innovation, but instead a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice, and peaceful coexistence between church and state. It corrects an anomalous failure by federal regulators that should never have occurred and should never be repeated.

"These regulations are good news for the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who are challenging the HHS mandate in court.  We urge the government to take the next logical step and promptly resolve the litigation that the Supreme Court has urged the parties to settle.

"The regulations are also good news for all Americans. A government mandate that coerces people to make an impossible choice between obeying their consciences and obeying the call to serve the poor is harmful not only to Catholics but to the common good. Religious freedom is a fundamental right for all, so when it is threatened for some, it is threatened for all. We welcome the news that this particular threat to religious freedom has been lifted...."