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home : news : parishes, schools & local October 21, 2017

Trenton parish celebrates as Bishop O'Connell consecrates new altar
Table of the Lord -- Bishop O'Connell consecrates the altar with sacred chrism. John Batkowski photos
Table of the Lord -- Bishop O'Connell consecrates the altar with sacred chrism. John Batkowski photos
May Our Prayers Rise Like Incense -- Bishop O'Connell incenses the altar.
May Our Prayers Rise Like Incense -- Bishop O'Connell incenses the altar.
Brief History of St. Hedwig Parish

St. Hedwig Parish traces its roots to the end of the 19th century when the first influx of Polish Americans settled in southern Trenton and attended Mass in St. Stanislaus Church. As the number of Polish immigrants increased in the city’s northern section, the need for a new Polish national parish arose. In 1904, Bishop James A. McFaul established St. Hedwig Parish and Father John Supinski arrived from Poland to become the founding pastor. Over the years, subsequent pastors continued to build the parish, adding rooms to the school, renovating other buildings to create a convent. Other pastors who have served the parish well include Father Julian Zielinski (builder of the church), Msgr. Arthur J. Strenski, Msgr. Martin J. Lipinski, Msgr. Francis Zgliczynski and Father Labinski, current pastor.

Story by Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor

In the presence of hundreds of faithful of St. Hedwig Parish, Trenton, and their pastor, Father Jacek Labinski, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., consecrated a new marble altar Sept. 24 in the landmark inner-city church.

To view photo gallery on this story, click here.

“It is a day for pride in our Church and gratitude to our pastor, Father Jacek, and the generous people of our parish who made this occasion possible,” Bishop O’Connell said in his homily. “As your Bishop, I join you in that pride and gratitude.”

The solemn, ancient ritual of consecrating an altar unfolded after the homily with the choir singing the Litany of Saints. The Bishop, who celebrated Mass, poured Sacred Chrism on the altar’s surface and then spread the oil with his hand. After the altar was incensed, two longtime parishioners dressed the table with altar linens. The deacons and altar servers lit candles and placed floral arrangements in the sanctuary as part of the consecration ritual.

Bishop O’Connell reflected on the first Reading from the Book of Isaiah, which “encourages us to ‘seek the Lord,’ to ‘call to him while he is near.’”

“We come into Church each week, every day for that matter, to do just that. We seek the Lord on this altar, in the Eucharist,” Bishop O’Connell said. “We call him, and he responds with his presence on the same altar at Holy Mass, a presence that is generous and merciful and forgiving.”

“At this altar, all who approach the Lord will find him there, last, first and in between,” the Bishop continued. “And from this altar, he will be generous with his love in ways we cannot expect or imagine.”

Father Labinski said the new marble altar, which replaces a wooden table, is part of a number of refurbishments being made throughout the church, including completing marble flooring in the sanctuary. He estimated that the wooden table had been used since late 1965, at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council and when the celebration of the Mass had changed from the Extraordinary Form to the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo). Prior to that time, the high altar had been used during Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Embedded in a cavity in the new altar are the relics of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, which the parish acquired when the church was built in 1924. In addition, the depiction of the Last Supper that had been at the base of the high altar is now installed at the base of the new one.

“We were very happy to have Bishop O’Connell consecrate our altar,” Father Labinski said. “It’s a beautiful ceremony that not many people have an opportunity to witness. This was very special for our parish.”

As the owner of Marble and Granite Fabricators, Trenton, parishioner Andrzej Podlesny said it was a privilege to help install the new altar.

“This is a beautiful church with a lot of history,” said Podlesny, a member of St. Hedwig Parish for some 20 years. “As members of St. Hedwig Parish, we are responsible for the prosperity and continuation of our Catholic community.”




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