At Sacred Hearts, Remembering 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 he 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."

David Reich-Hale March 21, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Just received this from Suzanne and wanted to share: Hi David I just wanted to add to Father Trench's article that he loved the children - he considered all of them to be his "grandchildren". Also he sent cards for every occasion to people. when my youngest daughter was at college, she was having a hard time so he send her funny cards all the time and she still has them! He always tried to keep in touch with the kids even after they went away to college. I also have a cute picture of Father Trench with my daughters at Christmas - he was at my daughter's house for christmas brunch. If you want it let me know.
A.Hale March 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
he was a true gentleman, RIP
LEE MOORHEAD March 30, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I was so sad to hear of the passing of Msr Trench. He was not only an exemplary priest, but a wonderful member of our community. He would always stop to speak to people he knew personally and even if you did not know him on that level, he would still walk over, introduce himself and behave as if he knew you forever. May Jesus and the Angels surround him with love and light. Lee Moorhead Psychic of The Hamptons
MARION RASSIAS GREENE March 31, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Monsignor Trench was such a wonderful person. He loved life, loved his devotion and loved people of all walks of life. He was the reason I wanted to attend mass. He was approachable, loving and funny. He officiated at my mother's funeral and was so generous in his words and service, no one there ever forgot his kindness to us all. I thanked him many times for different acts of love he bestowed on me and my family and he always just acted like it was nothing. It was something and he will always be remembered in my heart and prayers. I know he is surrounded in love and light and all that is good. R.I.P. dear Msr Trench - Marion Rassias-Greene
Joan Kelly May 01, 2012 at 08:37 AM
I got to know Monsignor Trench when he served as pastor of Infant Jesus in Port Jefferson. He was on the altar when my late husband and I were married and "excused" us from pre cana due to ages (24) and logistics and conducted our own private pre cana. He truly was a wonderful person to talk with and you could always have a good laugh with him. RIP Monsignor Ed. Joan T. McCool Szynkiewicz-Kelly


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