Pandemic Message and Updates

March 20, 2020

To All the Faithful of the Diocese of Trenton,

The Holy See has issued a decree regarding the celebrations of the upcoming Palm Sunday and Holy Week/Easter for implementation by Diocesan Bishops throughout the world.  I have issued a decree for the Diocese of Trenton, implementing the directives of the Holy See.

These unprecedented measures have been deemed necessary, given the best information we have received from federal, state and local public heath authorities.

Although COVID-19 has dramatically affected all of us in so many ways, I want to reach out to you with pastoral care and affection.  Our public Holy Week and Easter celebrations will be quite different this year but the underlying mysteries of our faith in the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection have not changed.  They continue to be the source and support of our faith and we should celebrate them this year, even though in a different way.

Permit me please, as your Bishop, to encourage you to use all the means available, to sustain and nurture your faith.  Follow Masses and other liturgical celebrations reverently on-line or via televised broadcast.  Read the liturgical readings in your missals, other publications or on the internet.  Pray your devotions privately or as families, especially the rosary, Stations of the Cross, and other beloved traditional devotions.  Where it is possible and permitted, stop in church to visit and adore the Blessed Sacrament.  If this is not possible, make a spiritual communion at home or wherever you may be.  The great saints in our Church’s history followed that practice.  Keep your faith and prayer life alive until things in our public practice of the faith is restored.

Please stay as calm as possible.  Faith and patience are good companions in the spiritual life.  They become the source of charity in our genuine witness to the Lord Jesus and his Good News.  Be kind and attentive to others —- your own families, neighbors, friends and those who are elderly and alone.  Reach out in the best ways possible.  Be grateful to/for those who are working to address COVID-19 in so many different venues.  Be generous.  The pandemic is and will continue take its toll on families and on our parishes.  Keep the needs of others in mind.

Above all, please remember that the Lord Jesus is in our midst, now and always.  As he touched lives, healed the sick and ministered with love and merciful compassion throughout the Gospels, know that he will continue to do so for us.  Have no doubt about that.  “Be joyful in hope, persevere in hardship, keep praying regularly (Romans 12:12).”

God bless us all and protect us.  O Mary, Mother of Divine Love, protect and lead us to the heart of your Son.

Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Bishop O’Connell

The Catholic Charities Coronavirus announcement is:

Catholic Charities is fully operational at a heightened state of precaution, accommodating social distancing. To access our services or learn how the changes affect our clients via the internet type or call our Help Line 1-800-360-7711

Thank you so much for your support and stay well.


From the Bishop:

The Governor of New Jersey is recommending —- not mandating —- that events anticipating crowds of 250 plus people be cancelled due to the potential spread of the corona virus. As Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton I am NOT instructing that parish churches be closed or weekend Masses be cancelled in the Diocese of Trenton. All weekend Masses should be celebrated as regularly scheduled.  The Sacrament of Penance should also remain available. Previous instructions issued regarding liturgical practices at Mass remain in effect. Those who are feeling sick or in high risk groups should not celebrate or attend Mass and should stay home.

At the same time, I am granting a DISPENSATION from the OBLIGATION to attend weekend/Sunday Mass to all the Catholic faithful until further notice.  I recommend that the faithful pray and take advantage of / participate in Holy Mass as broadcast on television.  To mitigate the further spread of the virus, all schools and religious education classes in the Diocese of Trenton will be closed from March 16, 2020 through March 27, 2020. Extracurricular activities and community gatherings are cancelled or postponed until further notice. This includes athletic practices and competitions. Events scheduled for later this year will be evaluated based on the most current information available. >> Click here for more information.

From the Pastor:

As Pastor of St. Raphael-Holy Angels, in the light of the Bishop’s directives to cancel large gatherings of the faithful, I am cancelling the following parish activities until further notice:
1. Lenten Retreat
2. March 25th Mission Event
3. Journey to Calvary on March 29th
4. Golden Ticket on April 4th
5. Living Stations on April 5th
6. Parish Mission on May  3-5th
7. BINGO, Monday and Friday from March 16 TO April 10th
8. LifeTeen Night on March 22nd
9. Santacruzan
10. Office hours starting Monday, March 23, the Rectory will be open from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Food Pantry  is cancelled for Saturday, March 21

Bringing Holy Communion to hospitals, nursing homes and homes is suspended until further notice. This This includes Holy Mass at the Care One Nursing Home. Clergy and Ministers are asked to refrain from making pastoral visits to patients in the hospital at this time. If there is a pastoral need, requests must be made directly from the Hospital Chaplain. In light of the endurance of the virus on frequently touched surfaces – doors, pews, holy water fonts, etc. – we are doing proper cleaning of these surfaces in our church.