BELMAR — Bishop David O’Connell’s outdoor Mass in Belmar last Sunday drew nearly 1,000 people, according to an estimate provided by the Diocese of Trenton.
According to Rayanne Bennett, executive director of communications for the Diocese of Trenton, the estimate is based on the number of communion hosts distributed during the Mass.
“They had 750 hosts to give out for Communion and were running out toward the end,” Ms. Bennett said, “so they had to split the hosts in half. It was estimated that 800 people received Communion, so the attendance number would be 800 plus the folks who didn’t take Communion, including all the younger children.”
Many of the worshippers came from the five Roman Catholic churches who organized the Mass as part of the “Faith in Our Future” initiative, an effort to bring neighboring parishes together to work toward common goals.
The parishes were: St. Mark’s of Sea Girt, St. Rose of Belmar; Church of the Ascension of Bradley Beach, St. Elizabeth of Avon-by-the-Sea, St. Catharine’s of Spring Lake. The five have been designated by the Faith in Our Future program as Cohort 19.
The Mass was celebrated from the gazebo at Silver Lake and attendees were encouraged to bring their own beach chairs. Bishop O’Connell expressed excitement at the gathering and was met with applause when he asked whether the cohort should plan another such joint Mass next year.
Rev. Monsignor Edward Arnister, Pastor of St. Rose and Episcopal Vicar for Monmouth County, said he had been praying for a beautiful sunny day in Belmar on Aug. 13. Parking was provided at the Belmar Plaza, where a bus was available to take people to the gazebo.
In his homily, Bishop O’Connell spoke about the importance of “finding God in our everyday lives … not just when your boat is sinking.”
Thomas Mullooly, a St. Rose parishoner who chairs Cohort 19 thanked the Borough of Belmar for hosting the event. He also credited Monsignor Arnister, the pastors and deacons of the five parishes and cohort members Kelly Williams and Mary Brabazon.
According to cohort member Debbie Mullen, of St. Elizabeth’s Church, the group is in the “Implementation period,” the time during which the group is working to implement the concept of parishes working together.
[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct an understated attendance estimate, which also appeared the Aug. 17 edition of The Coast Star.]
For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.