By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent
The Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Morris Hall, Lawrenceville, was filled Oct. 23 as Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., priests of the Diocese and friends of Father Gerard McCarron gathered for the celebration of his funeral Mass.
Bishop O’Connell served as principal celebrant for the Mass commemorating Father McCarron, who died Oct. 19 at the age of 78. Among the concelebrating priests were Msgr. Thomas Gervasio, vicar general and pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, and Father Daniel Swift, pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, who served as homilist.
Photo Gallery: Father McCarron Funeral Mass
Father McCarron, who served the Diocese of Trenton for 47 years, was born to Gertrude Kelleher and John F. McCarron in 1939. He graduated from Father Judge High School in Philadelphia and went on to study at La Salle University, Philadelphia; Niagara University, Lewiston, N.Y., and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington, N.J. In addition, Father McCarron received master of theology and doctor of philosophy degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Father McCarron was ordained to the priesthood in service to the Diocese of Trenton June 6, 1970. He served in several parishes of the Diocese as parochial vicar, parish administrator and pastor. He is survived by his sister, Barbara, and niece, Meghan.
Affectionately speaking of “Father Gerry” in his homily, Father Swift recalled serving as a parochial vicar for four years with Father McCarron as his pastor.
“He was very generous to me, in allowing me to do whatever ministry I wanted or needed, without question, and I always appreciated that,” Father Swift said. “He was very scholarly, and I’m quite sure that he could have spoken circles around me, but he never did.”
Recalling Father McCarron’s natural tendency toward compassion, Father Swift described him as “someone who always wanted things to be well, be alright, be OK.” Whether learning of a family member’s health problems, or a family in the community who suffered great loss, Father McCarron faithfully expressed his concern, offered comfort and took steps whenever he could to help.
Those who attended the Mass also remembered Father McCarron for his compassion.
“If someone was in need, he would be the first one to reach out,” said Debbie Moroney of St. William the Abbot Paris, Howell, where Father McCarron served as pastor before retiring in 2009. “He was very compassionate and kind, especially one on one, so ministerial and very dedicated. He would be at the hospital within minutes [when called].”
Mary Cleary, former director of religious education in St. William the Abbot Parish, said ministries thrived under Father McCarron’s tenure.
“He gave you space, he let you do your thing; he gave us freedom,” Cleary said.
Moroney agreed, saying, “He really encouraged ministries with the parishioners. He was a great administrator.”
Fellow parishioner Dr. Joe Mannion also had memories to share. “One of the things I always remember about him at Mass – if a baby started crying and the mother was getting up to take the baby out, he would tell them, ‘no, that’s all right, stay,’” Mannion recalled. “Sometimes if a baby spoke out during Mass, he would answer the baby, putting the mom at ease.”
Added Cleary, “He had a great sense of humor. He will rock ‘heaven’s gates’ when he gets there.”