Echoing the message expressed by St. John Paul II in his memoir “Gift and Mystery,” Bishop O’Connell emphasizes how critical the responsibility of inviting, forming and supporting priests is to the life and future of the Church. With approximately 170 diocesan priests serving more than 800,000 Catholics within our Diocese, every priest is essential, and building the number of priests in active ministry has never been more important.
Funds raised for Ordained Ministry will be restricted endowment funds, the income from which will support:
The extraordinary news is that our current class of seminarians has grown to more than 30 men. Bishop O’Connell has set the goal of bringing that number to 50 seminarians in formation over the coming years. This growth will present a welcome challenge, as the cost to educate one seminarian for one year is approximately $40,000. Recognizing the seminaries’ indelible impact on our Church, we will establish a priestly formation endowment to supplement education costs. The discernment and spiritual formation of our seminarians will continue to be a priority for generations to come as we seek to meet the increasing demand for priests in our Diocese.
Providing for our priests in their retirement has always been a priority for the Diocese. However, the average age of our priests continues to advance, and the number of retirements anticipated in the years to come will exceed past decades. In the next 10 years alone, 44% of our current priests will be eligible for retirement. This will require an additional $800,000 each year to provide care for those who have dedicated their lives to their parish communities. Amid increasing healthcare costs, we must be prepared to meet growing demands by increasing the current endowment for our retired priests. This will provide a renewed opportunity to give back to our priests who have given so much to us.
Permanent Diaconate Program
As some men are called to a priestly life of sacramental service to the Church, others are called to serve as permanent deacons. With more than 300 deacons currently in service, the Diocese of Trenton has been blessed with one of the largest diaconate programs in the country. A comprehensive study recently conducted by the Diocese has led to new measures aimed at strengthening the formation for permanent deacons, and restructuring how they minister in the Diocese.
Key among these measures is the provision for advanced studies, a portion of which is subsidized by the Diocese. As the need for permanent deacons continues, so too must the Diocese’s investment in preparing men that can minister to their congregations with engaging homilies, sacramental preparation and spiritual direction. Above all these funds will help the diocese in the formation of deacons who are better prepared to minister to the faithful.