BY Michael I. Days
We know we have come this far by faith.
So we want to just take a little time Lord to say, thank you.
Thank you for guiding our elders back in 1941 to petition then Bishop William Griffin to develop a house of worship.
They had come to Trenton mostly from the south to take the factory jobs that were then plentiful here. And while they had physically moved, they were committed to staying rooted in their faith. They initially worshipped in Catholic churches all about the area.
But you know Lord the United States was still firmly segregated then, and they got tired of being sick and tired of being treated as less than.
So now some 68 years later we still thank you Lord for Bishop Griffin, for his wisdom and grace to understand our needs.
This three-story building was erected in 1928 by the State Lodge of the Negro Masons of New Jersey. But by 1930’s the Great Depression had hit hard – and it was just sitting empty, waiting for a new beginning.
On May 5th, 1941 that rebirth began – Bishop Griffin inspected the building, gave his permission for the necessary renovations – and gave this parish its name. And officiated at its first Mass.
We thank you Lord for the Society of the Divine Word priests who have served faithfully, and creatively, and passionately since – for our first pastor, Father Joseph Ford, and for the ten shepherds who have followed:
Father Vincent Smith
Father Alexander Leedie
Father Peter Herr
Father Bernard Kowalski
Father Vincent Butler
Father Edward McGuinn
Father William Hegarty
Father Tim Donnelly
Father George Kintiba
And now our beloved Father Edward Tetteh.
We thank you, Lord, for the four Franciscan sisters who arrived here from Vienna, Austria, with the ominous task of starting a school from scratch, and successfully did so. Our Lady’s school officially opened in September of 1943 with 68 students.
We thank you Lord for the Oblate Sisters of Providence. They arrived in 1956, and taught and nurtured and inspired us and our children for more than 40 years until 1997 when our school closed. Our own Marcia, now Sister Marcia Hall, a professed Oblate, is a constant reminder of our ongoing link to the sisters.
We thank you Lord for all of the beloved who have filled these pews and filled our hearts and our souls and shared our faith for all of these many years.
We thank you Lord for the families who first gathered here, and for the families from across the globe, who now claim Blessed Sacrament/Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd as their spiritual home.
At this last celebration at our beloved Our Lady’s we remember the many Baptisms, and first Holy Communions, the many Confirmations and Marriages, the home-going services that honored our deceased.
This has been a place of blessed respite for a mighty long time.
We close this worship site, Lord, knowing that wherever we plant ourselves, wherever two or three are gathered in your name you will be in the midst of us.
And we are reminded of the powerful words James Weldon Johnson penned more than 80 years ago that continue to reinforce that, indeed, we have come this far by faith.
God of our weary years
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way.
Thou who hast by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray:
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand
True to our God, true to our native land!
Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd
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