By Donald Wittkowski
St. Joseph Catholic Church is using Sea Isle City police officers for additional security during Mass this summer, although the pastor has assured parishioners that there are no specific threats targeting the church.
Sea Isle Police Chief Tom McQuillen also said no threats have been made against the church on Landis Avenue, but noted that police will patrol the inside and outside of St. Joseph during weekend services as a precautionary measure.
“There’s been no credible threat. This is 100 percent an overabundance of caution,” McQuillen said in an interview Tuesday.
Father Joseph Perreault, St. Joseph’s pastor, wrote in the June 2 edition of the church bulletin that extra security is being provided at the recommendation of Diocesan officials and also because of the “times.”
“Please understand that this effort is deemed to be preventative and that there are no identifiable problems within our faith community,” Father Perreault wrote.
Churches and mosques have been the scene of mass shootings in recent years, leading to heightened security measures at houses of worship around the world.
Most recently, a white supremacist massacred 51 worshippers in March at two New Zealand mosques. Last October, a man who expressed his desire to kill Jews murdered 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
“They have some concerns with the attacks against places of worship around the world,” McQuillen said of St. Joseph officials.
The church is paying for the extra security. McQuillen, who is a member of St. Joseph, said this is the first time the police department has provided extra patrols for a Sea Isle church.
“The church wanted to take it a step further to hire someone,” he said of the security arrangements with the police department.
The extra security began on June 2, McQuillen said. He described it as a “trial period” that will run through June. In the church bulletin, Father Perreault wrote there would be heightened security “during the summer months.”