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At Sacred Hearts, Remembering RVC Native Monsignor Trench

The iconic church's late pastor, who died last weekend, will be laid to rest on Friday.

Suzanne Marchisella nearly cried. 

But the secretary at  took a deep breath and laughed instead. Rev. Monsignor Edmond J. Trench, the revered former leader of the church, wouldn't have had it any other way.

"I can't cry. He was full of joy," said Marchisella, who has worked at the church since Monsignor Trench hired her in 1989. "He embraced everyone. Anyone who needed to talk to him could talk to him."

So the outpouring of emotion after he comes as no surprise to Marchisella, whose phone at the rectory has been ringing nearly non-stop. In fact, for a brief time, she changed her voicemail to include information about his

Even after he retired in 2000, Monsignor Trench was a fixture in the community. He lived in nearby Quogue and was seen around Southampton often, whether it was at a local restaurant, or marching in the town's Independence Day parade alongside his beloved , of which he was the chaplain.

But it was his work at the church from 1988 to 2000 that made him a household name to Catholics and others in Southampton.

When the Rockville Centre native first joined Sacred Hearts after tours of duty in Bethpage and Valley Stream, the church was in need of major renovations that included more than $1 million in structural and electrical improvements. Another $100,000 was needed to repair the roof, which was in such disrepair that buckets were often used to collect rainwater. 

The expenses were daunting, but according to the church's 100th anniversary memorial book released in 1996, he told parishioners that "big bucks and little bucks built the church" and "big bucks and little bucks are needed to restore our church."

Members rang doorbells and made calls, and successfully raised $1.7 million, enough to turn it into the shining beacon on Hill Street that is .

It was Marchisella who handled the church-improvement donations.

"The church was falling down when he got here," she said. "When he became involved, people listened. Everyone helped because they knew him, and because they trusted him. That's why everyone reacted so positively."

It was also Marchisella who typed up Monsignor Trench's letters — and he wrote more than his fair share. 

"He wrote to everyone. He started with the president of the United States and went all the way down the line to members of the village board or the supervisor," she said. "He had a lot to say, and he thought it was important to say it. If he saw an injustice, he wouldn't stay silent."

But she joked, "I had to type it up. He couldn't type. He was computer illiterate and he knew it."

There was little else he didn't do. When a local food pantry looking out for the poor needed space, Monsignor Trench was quick to donate it. That organization grew into the Heart of the Hamptons. 

When the poor needed a champion, he was there.

"Always. That was important to him," she said. "It was a passion of his."

When people of a different faith came to the church, he was quick to point out how connected all religions actually were. For instance, with visiting Jews, he often pointed to the stained glass windows, where Old Testament prophets such as David, Isaiah, Moses and Abraham aligned the bottom row. 

"We know where we come from," he often said.

And the church faithful know how far the parish has come since he took the reins decades ago. 

But his greatest accomplishment of all might have been summed up by Marchisella, when she simply said, "He made a lot of lives better."

Paul March 22, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Ed grew up on S. Center Av in Rockville Centre across the street from the Defender Hose Company fire house where he "lived" starting at a very young age - suppose this started his affiliation with fire departments wherever his church duties placed him. My fathers family grew up across the street. My uncle and his family were and remained close to Ed thru their fire department associations. Based on the few times I was able to meet Ed he was the down to earth type of a person you would expect of a priest and a man.
Ellen March 23, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Msgr. Trench was at St Ignatius Martyr in Long Beach for a while. He was also much loved there. However, it was at Sacred Hearts where I had most opportunity to know him. The renovation of Sacred Hearts was beautiful. His homilies were warm, funny and poignant. He would leave the altar and walk through the Church while talking, making eye contact and reaching out to people. Msgr Trench made a family of a parish that has multi-millionaires and migrant workers, year round residents and seasonal residents, historic families and new arrivals. Everyone felt welcome and included. He was also very conscious of the history of the church in Southampton and how important it was to the community. He personal gifts were rare. May he rest in peace.
MARY JANE PENDL April 02, 2012 at 09:52 PM
FATHER TRENCH WAS A LONG TIME FRIEND TO US ALL IN THE PENDL FAMILY. BACK IN THE LATE FIFTIES HE WAS AN ACTIVE FIRE-FIGHTER IN THE VILLAGE OF BETHPAGE. UNDER THE TUTILEDGE OF THE CHIEF OF DEPARTMENT HE WENT FROM 'PROBIE' TO FULL FLEDGED FIRE -FIGHTER AND SERVED AS OUR CHAPLIN WHEN HE WAS CALLED UPON. FRANCIS X. PENDL BECAME HIS CHIEF AS THE YEARS PASSED AND WE BECAME GREAT FRIENDS. HIS TRANSFER TO NCMC, OUR COUNTY HOSPITAL, AS CHAPLIN SADDENED US. LITTLE DID WE KNOW THAT OUR SON AS AN INFANT PATIENT IN THE HOSPITAL WOULD NEED HIS DAILY VISITS AN EVENTUALLY, FATHER CONFIRMED HIM WHEN HE WAS NEAR DEATH. FORTUNATELY, WITH GOD AND FATHER TRENCH LOOKING AFTER HIM HE SURVIVED. WE, AS A LARGE FAMILY, LOOK BACK ON THE MANY TIMES WE CALLED ON HIM. .....IN APRIL, 2004 DURING HOLY WEEK, THE CHILDREN AGAIN TURNED TO HIM TO MINISTER TO THIS FAMILY OF TWELVE LOVING CHILDREN WHO JUST LOST THEIR FATHER. CHIEF PENDL WAS FATHERS FRIEND AND FATHER DID NOT HESITATE COMING BACK TO BETHPAGE TO BE WITH US ALL. IN THE YEARS SINCE CHIEF PENDL LEFT US......WE DID CORRESPOND WITH FATHER OUT IN SUFFOLK COUNTY.....NEVER DID WE BELIEVE, THERE WOULD BE A TIME, THAT WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO TALK TO HIM AGAIN. THAT TIME HAS COME, HE IS GONE TO A BETTER PLACE. GOD REST HIS SOUL..FONDLY THE ENTIRE PENDL FAMILY

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