Father Edward Blanchett, pastor, Visitation Parish, Brick, concelebrates Mass with Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, vicar for clergy and director of seminarians.  Kevin Hyrencko, newly ordained transitional deacon in the Diocese assists.
Father Edward Blanchett, pastor, Visitation Parish, Brick, concelebrates Mass with Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, vicar for clergy and director of seminarians. Kevin Hyrencko, newly ordained transitional deacon in the Diocese assists.

The 13 seminarians of the Diocese of Trenton joined Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, vicar for clergy and director of seminarians, at San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch for their annual retreat June 6-10.

The Bishop began the retreat with the invitation of the Lord Jesus in the beginning of John’s Gospel to “come and see” where he dwelt and to “stay with him.” The theme of the retreat was developing intimacy with Jesus.

Bishop O’Connell asked the seminarians to read and reflect on the Gospels throughout the week, searching the texts for all the various scriptural “names of Jesus” and what those names revealed. Tracing Jesus’ movements and preaching “on the mountains” and “along the seashore,” the Bishop reflected with the seminarians on their “call to holiness.”  He spoke about the virtues of humility and obedience in their lives as well as the nature and purposes of celibacy.

On different days of the week, Father Christopher Dayton, parochial vicar, St. Rose Parish, Belmar; Father Michael Hall, pastor, St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton, and diocesan director of the Office of Worship, and Father Edward Blanchett, pastor, Visitation Parish, Brick, each participated in the retreat as presider and homilist at daily Masses.  Father Dayton preached on the importance of generously using one’s individual gifts in ministry.  Father Hall highlighted the importa nce of living in the here and now.  Father Blanchett reflected upon channeling anger that can arise as one strives to serve. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Bishop Leads Retreat for Seminarians

PHOTO GALLERY: Staff Photos of Seminarian Retreat

Bishop O’Connell observed, “Their homilies were well presented and deeply appreciated by the seminarians.”

Msgr. Mullelly concluded the week with a presentation and conversation about “the professional responsibilities of the seminarian and priest.”;It was a wonderful, prayerful week,” observed Bishop O’Connell. “The beautiful setting of San Alfonso Retreat House along the Jersey shore provided a perfect background for prayer and meditation, and the early summer weather cooperated.  Redemptorist Father John Collins, rector of the retreat house, was a gracious host and even treated the seminarians to pizza Wednesday night!”

The Bishop continued, “It is so important for a bishop to develop a close spiritual and supportive relationship with his seminarians as they prepare for the priesthood.  I am always happy when I can encourage them and contribute to their formation.  They will be great priests for our Diocese.” 

The seminarians, in turn, remarked that they felt especially blessed to get to know their bishop more personally.  “He is our shepherd and spiritual father,” related one of the seminarians.  “But we all enjoyed just sitting and talking to him, sharing meals and spending informal times with him. Most of our peers in the seminary don’t get such opportunities with their bishops.”