It's a sad trend with the amount of Catholic Churches closing due to lack of funding which in part comes from lack of attendance and donations at mass and other church activities. 

The Diocese of Trenton (which covers Burlington, Monmouth, Mercer and Ocean Counties) and Bishop David O'Connell are confident a merger of 14 parish communities to seven will help bring new light to our shore churches.

Last week the Bishop and diocesan officers signed decrees of mergers that will take effect on July 1, 2018 as part of their multi-year implementation phase of the Diocese's Faith in Our Future pastoral planning initiative, according to The Monitor (which is the DOT's newspaper).

The announcement and signing of the decrees by Bishop O'Connell and Terry Ginther, diocesan chancellor and executive director of the Office of Pastoral Life and Mission, who additionally stamped them with the diocesan seal, took place a couple days before the celebration of Pentecost, which commemorates the 'birthday' or beginning of the Catholic Church after Jesus Christ ascended into heaven.

“The merging and renaming of several of our parishes is the result of tremendous work and dedication on the part of parishes, cohort leaders, the Diocesan Planning Commission and diocesan officials," Bishop David O'Connell said in the Monitor. "I am very proud of their efforts and these results.

“What has been accomplished – although not as radical as in some other dioceses – truly reflects a labor of love with great faith in our future as a Diocese.  We are not dismissing or forgetting our history; we are cherishing and honoring it by raising from its roots a new age for the people of God in our local Church.”

Here are the churches affected by the signing of the merger decrees:

  • St. Catharine of Siena, Seaside Park and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Seaside Heights, which will become St. Junipero Serra Parish.
  • St. Jerome, West Long Branch, and St. Mary, Deal, which will become Our Lady of Hope Parish.
  • Assumption, New Egypt, and St. Andrew, Jobstown, which will become St. Isidore the Farmer Parish.
  • St. Joseph and Jesus the Lord, both Keyport, which will become Our Lady of Fatima Parish.
  • Sacred Heart and Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd, both Trenton, which will become Sacred Heart Parish.
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Avon, and Ascension, Bradley Beach, which will become St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish.
  • St. Mary, Bordentown, and St. Francis and St. Clare, Florence Township, which will become Mary Mother of the Church Parish.

The closing of private/Catholic schools has been on a decline for years amidst allegations against members of the clergy for pedophilia in this and every other non-denominational church in the religion of Christianity.

People have left the church for a variety of other reasons as well which is why in 2015 Bishop O'Connell started developing cohort teams within the diocese to come together and work towards finding out why...why people left, why they don't return along with what keeps them away and more.

Inside towns such as Toms River for example, a cohort built of the four Catholic churches in this Ocean County town (St. Justin's, St. Joe's, St. Luke's and St. Maximillian Kolbe) have formed a collaborative effort (RCCTR) and divided their focus into separate but one group.

The groups main targets include a millennial focus, a senior citizen focus, parents of newborns, newly wed couples, a bereavement ministry and a communication core is focused on finding out what hasn't worked and what still does but needs improving.

The goal is not to collect money but to bring people back to the faith community and invite those who are thinking of converting to the Catholic Church a welcoming embrace of open arms.

They hope the sinful actions of a few clergy, won't harm people's idea of the church any longer.

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