By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
In advertisements, the third annual gathering of maturing adults from around the Trenton Diocese promised “Senior Spirituality and So Much More.”
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From the looks of things July 12 in the arts and athletics center of St. Leo the Great Parish, Lincroft, the event – sponsored by the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care – more than lived up to that billing as some 530 maturing adults from around Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties enjoyed a day rich in fellowship, entertainment, spiritual renewal and worship.
Spirits were high throughout the day among participants.
“I thought it would be inspirational and it was. I got a lot out of it,” said Betty Carullo, who is in her 80s and relatively new to the parish.
Carullo said she had enjoyed similar events in her former parish in New York and was happy to find such an event being held in her new parish home, which is within walking distance of the senior community in which she now resides.
She called the Senior Spirituality Day, which rotates to different parishes, “very well organized” and appreciated its busy agenda. In addition to morning and afternoon presentations given by Msgr. Walter E. Nolan, a retired priest of the Diocese, the day also offered music, food and Mass.
In offering the stories that were culled from the Scriptures, Christian literature and personal observation, Msgr. Nolan provided examples of God’s mercy and love, assuring the gathering that “nothing is impossible with the love of God.
The unconditional nature of God’s love, he said, is always present and can never be withdrawn. He urged listeners to always strive to “do right and walk humbly with God” and never cease “praying the stories of your own heart,” for those stories, he said, are a source of comfort and peace.”
“Don’t worry, and always be thankful,” he gently advised. “Focus on what your priorities are.” Those priorities, he said, revolve around the sense that “we are called to witness and live through Christ Jesus” secure in the knowledge that God has blessed you very well.”
Other highlights of the day included a rousing performance of patriotic music by well-known Irish-American singer Bobby Byrne, a presentation by Sandy Mullarkey, a registered nurse and pastoral associate in St. Anselm Parish, Wayside, who guided participants through “The Beatitudes of Wellness for Body, Mind and Spirit,” and a series of in-place exercises.
Many echoed Margaret Cardone, a member of St. Dominic Parish, Brick, who said she attended the event because it “brings people together for the same purpose: to motivate them in faith. I enjoy going to Mass every day. I thought it would be nice to come here.”
Before the Mass celebrated by Vincentian Father Martin McGeough, diocesan coordinator of Jail and Prison Ministry, closed out the day, Deanna Sass, director of the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care, reflected on the event’s importance.
“The reason the Diocese hosts this day for seniors is because we celebrate our older adults who have been the stronghold of parishes, volunteering in greater numbers than all other age groups combined,” Sass said.
“They have raised their families and paid the faith forward to the next generations, being agents of evangelization in the market place,” she said. “This event says we value you, we recognize your contributions to the local Church of Trenton, and we thank you for the many ways you serve, share and bless our faith communities.”