Five years ago, on April 6, 2011, the doors to the Good Counsel South Jersey home were opened. Some wondered if it would take a long time for the nine rooms to be filled with mothers in need. By the end of that April, the South Jersey home was full and has stayed at 100% capacity ever since.
A beautiful anniversary celebrating life was held April 24, 2016. The South Jersey home was honored to welcome the Most Rev. David M. O’Connell, Bishop of Trenton, as celebrant of the Mass. Joining Bishop O’Connell to concelebrate Mass were Father JC Garrett, Father Gerald Johnson, and Father Joel Wilson.
St. Casimir’s Church in Riverside was full as many friends, donors, and faithful parishioners came together to celebrate this happy occasion. A Good Counsel mother, along with her baby and two older sons, presented the gifts in the Offertory to Bishop O’Connell and brought tears to many eyes. “Today, here in our parish, we have in our midst in Riverside, one of several Good Counsel homes whose mission it is to put Gospel love and mercy into practice,” said Bishop O’Connell in his homily. “Good Counsel homes recognize the dignity of God-given life from the moment of conception, fostering a nurturing, safe family environment, encouraging self-respect and independence for pregnant mothers and their children in a diverse community of all faiths and beliefs. They bring the Gospel of Love to life.”
Following Mass, over 100 people gathered under the tent in the backyard of the home. The Knights of Columbus Blessed Kateri Council of St. Isaac Jogues Parish and volunteers set up, prepared food to delight the palate, and cleaned up! It was a wonderful afternoon filled with love and laughter, smiles and hugs, including the Bishop, and many grateful words were spoken. The donors were especially touched and honored to be a prayerful and financial part of the 5-year history of the South Jersey home. Riverside Councilman, Robert Prisco, spoke of the Township’s pride to have the home in the township and pledged continued support.
One of our toddler residents, Navin, captured the feeling of the day while on the way from church to the home, skipping along and seeing all the people coming, he sang, “We’re going to have a party… we’re going to have a party.”
In the next 5 years and, God willing, many, many more, the South Jersey home will continue to welcome homeless, pregnant mothers and provide whatever they need to create a future for themselves and their family. What a blessing is has been to welcome mothers coming from a place of despair and guiding them toward a sure hope for the future.
For more on the celebration and a photo gallery, please visit the Trenton Monitor.