The 60th anniversary of our parish school was celebrated in a number of ways. The “kick off” event was an enjoyable comedy, “Late Nite Catechism” held on April 26 a t Robbinsville High School. This production took a humorous and reverent look back at the Catholic School experience highlighting the role of religious sisters. On Sunday, October 25, a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Msgr. Gervasio with an alumnus, Deacon Dennis Slavin as homilist. A number of Marianite Sisters of the Holy Cross who directed the school at its inception and many years thereafter attended. Music was provided by our school choir under the direction of Michael Amantia and Jay Kemmey of our faculty as well as a Brass Quartet. Refreshments were served in the school cafeteria following the liturgy. The anniversary was also marked with a Cocktail Reception at the school on Friday, November 20. Many alumni returned to the hallowed halls of their alma mater for a time to reminisce and renew old friendships. The Anniversary Committee chaired by Mrs. Martha Larkin also saw to a number of events for the students and raised funds through the sale of an “OLS 60th Anniversary” Christmas ornament. Committee members included: Jane Loh Clemens, Julianne DeCore, Joan DeGregory, Denise Gutierrez, Kathy McGlinchy, Deacon Kevin O’Boyle, Maureen Pfeffer and Nicole Schiarabone.
Much of the year was devoted to our parish’s participation in the diocesan-wide endowment campaign, “Faith to Move Mountains.” This initiative seeks to raise $75 million over the next five years to strengthen the Church’s future ability to minister by endowing specific works of the Church: Parish Needs, Clergy Formation and Assistance to Retired Priests, Evangelization Efforts, and Works of Charity. The campaign is also designed to help parishes. Thirty percent of what is raised to the parish goal is returned to the parish while seventy percent of funds raised beyond the goal are returned to the parish.
Our parish goal was set at an ambitious $1.49 million. A hard working committee chaired by Sen. Peter Inverso, our parish was able to raise nearly $950,000. Committee members included George Guze, Martha and David Larkin, Paul Evans, Walter Myslinski, Joeseph and Lea Novak, Daniel Tomasulo, and Robert Brennan.
Parish activities were somewhat expanded during 2015. In addition to the Advent and Lenten retreats held in Creole for the Haitian Community, our Lenten Mission in English was directed by Good News International of Howell, NJ. Masses for the Sick with Sacramental Anointing The parish was also honored to host a two day “mini retreat” conducted by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, Archbishop Emeritus of St. Paul-Minneapolis, December 7 and 8, the Solemnity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
Pope Francis made a tremendous impact in the United States with his pastoral visit in September. His visits to Washington, New York and then Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families were met by enthusiastic crowds. Our own Deacons, Dennis Slavin and Luders Desire’ participated at the Mass in Philadelphia. Brennen McCoy of our parish studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary saw the Pontiff close at hand since Seminary was the pope’s “home base” during his visit to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, marked the beginning of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. The parish is planning a number of events around the Holy Year’s theme, “Merciful like the Father.” Banners with this theme and logo were hung in both churches. The schedule for sacramental confessions was augmented with time added following the 9:00 am Saturday Mass.
The parish began a “Summer Religious Education Program” as an alternative to the regular year long program. This is an intensive program of religious education that takes place over two weeks. It had a modest beginning in terms of enrollment but the families and catechists involved were enthusiastic.
The need to provide a program for the faith formation of adults was also addressed through “Thoughtful Thursdays,” a five week series of presentations addressing timely and even controversial topics. It is hoped that the series will become a tradition being offered in the autumn and spring.
The year witnessed a number of staff changes. The parish mourned the loss of our Director of Pastoral Outreach, Mrs. Joan Bartolomei, who died after a courageous battle with cancer on October 6. Joan had served the parish with particular love and dedication for eight years in the areas of marriage and funeral preparation, annulment advocacy, visitation to the sick and spiritual direction. It is a role now taken up by Mrs. Susan Commini. Another staff change affected our Youth Ministry. After nine years of faithful and generous service to our young parishioners, Mrs. Karen Craven resigned her position in order to devote herself more fully to her family. Both women were a blessing to our pastoral life. The parish is seeking to fill this void so that it can meet the needs of our youth.
Bishop O’Connell made not so much a change as an adjustment to our Clergy Staff. Both parochial vicars were appointed to part-time high school ministry. Fr. H. Todd Carter was assigned to Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville and Fr. Jean Felicien was assigned to Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton.
Among the improvements made to our campuses in 2015 were the paving of the new parking area at St. Anthony Church on the site of the former Convent and Haitian Center as well as the replacement of all window of our school.