Bishop: Lenten challenge is ‘watch and pray’; Bishop celebrates Ash Wednesday Masses; Lenten video series begins

Bishop: Lenten challenge is ‘watch and pray’; Bishop celebrates Ash Wednesday Masses; Lenten video series begins

In his message for Lent 2020, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., writes:

It is clear from the beginning of this holy season of Lent that the Church wants us to focus in a special way on the Passion of Christ as the path to Easter glory. Except for Jesus, no figure receives more attention in the Passion narratives than Peter.. .  Peter figures so prominently in the Passion narratives that he becomes a symbol of and a model for our own relationship with Christ . .

The challenge posed to us as we begin this holy season of Lent: “watch and pray. Lent is the time for renewing our baptismal profession of faith, for redirecting our lives to the Lord, for resolving anew to take up our Cross and follow Jesus.

The Church is populated by saints and sinners. In fact, there is a mixture of the saint and the sinner in each of us. Sin and grace struggle deep within the heart of every Christian. The Gospels proclaim that, as in the case of Peter, grace will win out if, of course, we are disposed to watch and pray.

Bishop O’Connell’s full message for Lent can be found here. To review the Lenten guidelines issued by the Bishop, click here.

Bishop O’Connell celebrated Masses for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, and, later in the day, in Monmouth University, West Long Branch.

In his homily for the Cathedral Mass, Bishop O’Connell said, “The season of Lent provides us with the opportunity to fine tune our choices, to sharpen our vision, to intensify our willingness to heed God’s voice and to hold fast to him … that is the path to life: from ashes to Easter!”

The young adults who attended Ash Wednesday Mass with the Bishop, were attentive to their shepherd’s words as he spoke of the common ground of how “we all have sinned, we all have failed, and we all are in need of the mercy of God” as a community founded by Jesus.

News reporting and photos from the Ash Wednesday Masses are posted to

Ten priests of the Diocese will share reflections for a new diocesan video series entitled “Living Lent.” Produced by the Department of Multimedia Production, the project will feature 2-3 minute reflections from each priest offering viewers a deeper understanding of the upcoming Penitential season.

The Diocese will post one new reflection in English and Spanish on each of the first five Wednesdays of Lent. The first two videos were posted on Ash Wednesday and can be viewed on  and, as well as across diocesan social media.

The featured priests and the order in which they will appear follow: (Week 1) Msgr. Richard D. LaVerghetta/Father Javier Díaz-Muñoz; (Week 2) Father James Grogan/Father René Pulgarín; (Week 3) Msgr. R. Vincent Gartland/Father Neiser Cardenas; (Week 4) Father Michael Kennedy/Father Miguel D. Valle, and (Week 5) Father William J. Lago/Father Carlos Florez. 

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