The Church of Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd, Trenton, New Jersey, was founded in 1941 in response to a petition presented to the Most Rev. William A. Griffin, Bishop of Trenton, by several hundred black Catholics who wanted to have their own house of worship. On Sunday, June 14, 1941, Bishop Griffin blessed the new church and officiated at the first Mass. The church was located in a former Masonic Temple on Pennington Avenue, where it remains today. (Bishop Griffin placed the Rev. Joseph G. Ford, S.V.D., in charge of the new parish. Brother Joseph Walsh, S.V.D. assisted Fr. Ford in the early years. Fr.Ford established two Masses each Sunday, at 8:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. Daily Mass was celebrated at 7:30 A.M.
During the first year, the choir, Altar-Rosary Society and Holy Name Society were established. In September, 1943 Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd School was established with a teaching staff of five Franciscan nuns from Vienna, Austria. Father Ford’s successors as pastor of the church have been Fr. Vincent Smith, S.V.D. (1944-1948). Fr. Smith later became a Trappist monk; Fr.Alexander Leedie, S.V.D. (1948-1952); Fr. Peter Heyer, S.V.D. (1952-1961); Fr.Bernard Kowalski, S.V.D., (1961-1970); Fr. Victor Butler, S.V.D. (1970-1978); Fr. Edward McGuinn, S.V.D. (1978-1986). Under Fr. McGuinn’s leadership the new addition, which bears his name, was built. The present pastor, Fr. William Hegarty, S.V.D., was installed on June 15, 1986.
A very important role of the Church’s ministry is to bring people closer together, to establish a family atmosphere among its members. Sometimes this is a slow process, because the overall membership of the parish may be so large that it takes a long time for people to get to know each other on a person to person basis.
Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd
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