A grace filled week in the Diocese of Camden

A grace filled week in the Diocese of Camden


It has been a grace filled week in the Diocese of Camden — a native son has been chosen as New Jersey’s newest bishop; many penitents followed Pope Francis’ call to the confessional; parishioners helped feed the hungry and one town has resumed a joyous tradition.

Bishop-designate James Checchio

In Monsignor James Checchio, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has chosen one of the finest priests I know to serve as the new Bishop of Metuchen. His appointment is truly a blessing for the good people in that community of faith and for the priests of the diocese.

A priest of the Diocese of Camden, Monsignor Checchio is a man of exceptional talents, a true pastor and the possessor of a great sense of humor. He has served in our diocese as a parochial vicar, diocesan administrator and for the past 10 years as Rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Perhaps it is in his last assignment where we saw his talents truly shine, as he shepherded 490 seminarians to the priesthood and oversaw the largest class sizes the college has seen since the late 1960s. I have no doubt that his love of God, the priesthood, and the people he serves will sustain him as chief shepherd for the people of the Diocese of Metuchen. Monsignor Checchio is a fine example of the kind of priest that faithful parents, faithful families and faith-filled parishes in the Diocese of Camden can produce.

24 Hours for the Lord

By all accounts, last weekend’s 24 Hours for the Lord was a resounding success. I have been told by priests around the diocese that the seven locations holding around-the-clock confession saw phenomenal turnout. I am truly inspired that so many in our diocese responded to Pope Francis’ call to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I thank all of the priest confessors who took the time and made personal sacrifices to make 24 Hours for the Lord available. My gratitude also to the Knights of Columbus who stood watch, especially during the overnight hours, allowing our priests to focus on the needs of those entering the confessional.

I pray that the effects of 24 Hours for the Lord will continue into the future and that Catholics throughout the diocese will take part in other opportunities like this to encounter Jesus Christ through reflection, prayer, and especially in the Sacrament of Penance.

FaithFULL Food Drive

Thank you to every parishioner of the diocese who took part in the Third Annual FaithFULL Food Drive. While we do not yet have the final numbers, reports suggest it was another great effort. I was happy to be present at Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Turnersville and saw for myself the abundance of donations that the parishioners carried with them to Mass. The parish really turned out for the food drive with signage, volunteers in FaithFULL T-shirts, and students from Paul VI High School lending a hand packing up all the food. When all was tallied, the parish had doubled last year’s donation.

Particularly during the Jubilee of Mercy, it is gratifying to see examples like this shining forth in our communities. Pope Francis continues to ask of us to fully embrace the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Throughout the diocese our parishioners did a great job this weekend of responding to his request and feeding the hungry.

Gloucester City – Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

I was honored to be the Grand Marshal of Gloucester City’s inaugural Saint Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday, March 6, which was dedicated to the many men and women who gave their heart, soul and, for some, their lives in support of Irish independence. The parade was a fitting memorial to these patriots and a celebration of the Ireland they fought so hard to create. This year we celebrate the centenary of The Rising and the establishment of the Irish State.

My congratulations to Monsignor William Hodge, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, who has made a substantial effort on behalf of the people of Gloucester City to reclaim many of the Irish traditions of yesteryear. Through his leadership, this year the Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations in Gloucester City are multi-faceted: an Irish-themed Mass preceded the parade, Irish Night will be held at Gloucester Catholic High School on March 11 and on March 16 there will be an ecumenical service at Saint Mary’s Church on the eve of the Feast of Saint Patrick.

Monsignor Hodge’s endeavors with the civic leaders of Gloucester City is a heartwarming example of how the Church and the community can come together in the name of fellowship.

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