Faith for the Journey of Life

My Thoughts on Faith, Life, and 2,000+ Years of Catholicism / Christianity

30 October 2006

Trenton Diocese Celebrates 125 Years

My wife Lisa and I had the privilege of participating in the Trenton Diocese's 125th Anniversary Mass held yesterday at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton. Our small part consisted of carrying banners representing three of the diocese's 118 parishes in the opening procession.

On 11 August 1881, Pope Leo XIII created the Diocese of Trenton with his Papal Bull Ad Futuram Rei Memoriam (For the Future Memory of Things). The Trenton Diocese was created from the Diocese of Newark and originally consisted of the fourteen southern counties of New Jersey. Its first bishop was Bishop Michael J. O'Farrell.

Twice in its history, the Diocese of Trenton has been divided to form new dioceses. In 1937, the southern-most counties were split off to form the Diocese of Camden. In 1981, four more counties were split off to form the Diocese of Metuchen. Today, the Diocese of Trenton consists of the counties of Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean and includes over 800,000 Catholics.

The 125th Anniversary Mass was truly an inspiring celebration. Bishops representing other dioceses in New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania concelebrated the Mass with Trenton Bishop John M. Smith. Numerous priests also concelebrated the Mass. Also participating were the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, and choirs. Bishop Smith celebrated Mass with a chalice formerly used by Pope Leo XIII.

In his Homily, Bishop Smith noted many of the historical events that have occurred during the Diocese's history including two world wars, the Great Depression, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the war in Iraq. He also highlighted some of the technological advancements such as the Internet, cell phones, airplanes, and automobiles.

On a personal note, I was thankful for the participation of Bishop Edward Kmiec from the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, in the celebration. Many years ago, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation from him when he was serving as Auxiliary Bishop of the Trenton Diocese. I did not get to speak with him though, and he probably would not have remembered me anyway.

Yesterday was a great celebration of history and of faith. Inspired by the Holy Spirit and following in the example of Christ, the bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Trenton Diocese have been faithful and diligent servants of our Holy God. To be able to join with Bishop Smith to celebrate this faith history was great privilege for which I thank our God in His Son's Name.

[For historical information on the Trenton Diocese, I consulted the diocesan newspaper's 125th Anniversary commemorative issue - 26 October 2006.]


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