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June 29, 2017
METUCHEN – With a spirit of joy and gratitude for his priestly vocation, Bishop James F. Checchio celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving June 23 to mark the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. The evening liturgy held on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart drew in hundreds of faithful from around the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen, which is comprised of Middlesex, Hunterdon Somerset and Warren counties.
Bishop Checchio, who recently celebrated the one year anniversary of his episcopal ordination, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Camden, N.J. on June 20, 1992 where he held various roles in parishes and for the diocese.
He served as rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome from January 2006 to January 2016, after serving as vice rector there for two and a half years. On March 8, 2016, then-Monsignor Checchio was appointed by Pope Francis as Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen; he was ordained and installed as the Fifth Bishop of Metuchen on May 3, 2016.
During his homily, the bishop told those gathered that he has been “extravagantly blessed these twenty-five years,” recalling that many people and things have influenced his ministry and shaped how he approaches his relationship with the Lord.
“I am grateful that so many of those people are here with us today and I certainly am indebted to you,” he said. “From my family life and early years Collingswood and at St. John Paul VI High School, to my seminary experiences in Scranton and in Rome and the friends I made during those years, to the pastoral and administrative experiences in the Diocese of Camden, to my years to helping to form forming 490 priests who were ordained during my time as rector at the North American College. And now, in the past year, as I have served as pastor of the local Church of Metuchen. I have been so abundantly blessed.”
“Celebrating 25 years in the priesthood reminds me of the importance of always being yoked to the Lord and to one another in ministry,” Checchio said. “It is by deepening my relationship with the Lord in prayer and through the Sacraments, and also through the encounters with others in discipleship, that I always see my service as a participation in God’s work and not simply my own.”
In addition to the bishop’s family, friends and diocesan staff, church pews were filled with diocesan priests, deacons, seminarians, religious brothers and sisters and many parish representatives along with local members of the Knights of Columbus, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and the Sovereign Order of Malta.
Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop Emeritus of Newark; Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, Bishop Emeritus of Metuchen; Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, Bishop of Camden; Most Reverend Robert C. Evans, Auxiliary Bishop of Providence; and Most Reverend Kurt Burnett, Bishop of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, were among those present at the Mass.
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, joined the bishop at a dinner held that evening. The first bishop of Metuchen, McCarrick was appointed by now-Saint John Paul II to lead the diocese when it first was established in 1981; he served in that role from 1982-1986.
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View or download photos on right by clicking on links below. (Photo credit: Erin Friedlander / Diocese of Metuchen). More photos can be found on our Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/DioceseofMetuchen
Photo 1: Bishop James F. Checchio welcomes the faithful gathered for Mass.
Photo 2: Bishop Checchio's parents, James and Helen Checchio, and other family members attended the Mass.
Photo 3: Bishop Checchio expresses gratitude to his brother bishops who were present at the Mass.
Photo 4: Members of the St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish community of South Brunswick were among the faithful gathered at the Mass.
Photo 5: (left to right) Most Reverend Kurt Burnett, Bishop of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passaic; Most Reverend Robert C. Evans, Auxiliary Bishop of Providence; Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, Bishop of Camden; and Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, Bishop Emeritus of Metuchen await the processional at the end of Mass.
Photo 6: Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington and first Bishop of Metuchen, (center) poses with Bishop Emeritus Paul G. Bootkoski (left) and Bishop James F. Checchio (right).