A message from Bishop O’Connell on the death of Bishop Emeritus John M. Smith
It is my sad duty to announce the death on Jan. 22, 2019 of the Most Rev. John Mortimer Smith, Bishop Emeritus (2010-2019) and Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton (1997-2010), former Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton (1995-1997), former Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in Florida (1991-1995) and former Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark (1988-1991). Bishop Smith died in Morris Hall Meadows, Lawrenceville, after a long illness. He was 83 years old.
Born June 23, 1935, in Orange, to Mortimer and Ethel Smith, both now deceased, Bishop Smith was the oldest of three children with two brothers, the Rev. Andrew Smith, O.S.B., and Gregory Smith. Bishop Smith attended St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, and John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He entered Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange in 1955 and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark on May 27, 1961. A graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Father Smith obtained a doctorate in Canon Law in 1966.
In the Archdiocese of Newark, Father Smith held several positions, among them Assistant Chancellor, Tribunal official, parish priest, Director of the Cursillo Movement and Dean of Bergen County. In 1971, Father Smith was named a Monsignor by now-Pope St. Paul VI.
In 1982, Monsignor Smith was appointed to the faculty of the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he served until his return to Newark in 1986. He was appointed Pastor of St. Mary Parish, Dumont, and, later, as the Archdiocese’s Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia. On Dec. 1, 1987, he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, and was consecrated Jan. 25, 1988.
Bishop Smith was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee on June 25, 1991. He returned to New Jersey as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton in 1995 where he succeeded the late Bishop John C. Reiss In 1997. He served as Bishop of Trenton for 13 years until his retirement at age 75 in 2010.
Bishop Smith is survived by his two brothers.
Bishop Smith’s body will be received in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton on Friday, Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. and will lie in repose until the celebration of the Mass of Jesus Christ the High Priest at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. Bishop Smith will be entombed in the Mausoleum of St. Mary Cemetery in Trenton following the Mass.
May he rest in peace.
Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M.
Bishop of Trenton