Seminarians share week of prayer and formation; Discernment event for priesthood; Married couples to learn about Natural Family Planning

Seminarians share week of prayer and formation; Discernment event for priesthood; Married couples to learn about Natural Family Planning

The faithful are asked to keep the Diocese’s seminarians in prayer as they gather for their week-long annual retreat.  Spiritual talks and conferences, Mass, prayer experiences, and time for rest are among the highlights of the event being held this week in San Alfonso Retreat House, West End.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy and consecrated life and director of seminarians, are visiting with the group and giving talks during the July 20-24 retreat.

Father Garry Koch, pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, and associate director of vocations for the Diocese, is leading the retreat.

The Diocese encourages men who are interested in learning more about the priesthood to attend a Vocation Discernment Barbecue Aug. 4 located in St. John the Baptist Church, Allentown. Geared toward men ages 16 to 35, the event will include Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., dinner and several talks.

Attendees will be invited to meet and talk honestly about the priesthood with pastors, priests and seminarians. During dinner, Father Dave Swantek, pastor of St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant, and Father John Michael Patilla, parochial vicar in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, will speak on their ministry and discernment.

Father Jason Parzynski, diocesan vocations director, said that similar events, featuring prayer, discussion and camaraderie, have drawn strong participation among young men seeking information about the priesthood. For more information or to register, contact Father Parzynski at St. John Church is located at 1282 Yardville-Allentown Road, Allentown.

National Family Planning Awareness Week is underway, with the theme, “Live the truth and beauty of God’s plan for married love!”  Running from July 19-25, the special week encourages married couples to learn more about NFP, a practice to monitor the various biological signs indicating a woman’s time of fertility and infertility. It can be used both to avoid pregnancy or to aid in becoming pregnant.

Sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, NFP Awareness Week highlights the July 25 anniversary of St. Paul VI’s encyclical “Humane Vitae” (“Of Human Life”), published in 1968. The encyclical affirmed Catholic teaching against artificial contraception and provides clear teaching “about God’s plan for married love and the transmission of life.” The week also celebrates the July 26 feast day of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Mother.

The USCCB website offers materials for NFP Awareness Week, including stories from couples, prayers, Church teachings and more. To read more about the promotion of NFP in the Diocese of Trenton, visit

Photo caption: Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., spends some time speaking with the seminarians on the first day of the retreat on July 20. Here, they are gathered in one of the chapels in San Alfonso Retreat House, West End. Staff photo

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