John M. Smith (bishop)

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John Mortimer Fourette Smith
Bishop Emeritus of Trenton
AppointedNovember 21, 1995 (Coadjutor)
InstalledJune 30, 1997
Term endedDecember 1, 2010
PredecessorJohn C. Reiss
SuccessorDavid M. O'Connell
OrdinationMay 27, 1961
ConsecrationJanuary 25, 1988
by Theodore Edgar McCarrick, Peter Leo Gerety, and Walter William Curtis
Personal details
Born(1935-06-23)June 23, 1935
Orange, New Jersey
DiedJanuary 22, 2019(2019-01-22) (aged 83)
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Previous postAuxiliary Bishop of Newark
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
MottoServite Domino in lætitia
Styles of
John Mortimer Fourette Smith
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

John Mortimer Fourette Smith (June 23, 1935 – January 22, 2019) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as the ninth Bishop of Trenton, having previously served as Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee from 1991 to 1995. At the time of his death, Smith was serving as the Bishop Emeritus of Trenton, having been succeeded upon his retirement for age reasons by his Coadjutor Bishop, former Catholic University of America President David M. O'Connell, on Wednesday, December 1, 2010.

Early life[edit]

John Smith was born in Orange, New Jersey, to Mortimer and Ethel (née Charnock) Smith. The oldest of three children, he had two brothers, Andrew (who later became a Benedictine monk) and Gregory. He attended Saint Benedict's Preparatory School in Newark and John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1955, he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, a branch of Seton Hall University, from where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in classical languages in 1957.[1]


Smith was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Thomas Boland on May 27, 1961. He then served as Assistant Chancellor, Defender of the Bond of the Metropolitan Tribunal, and director of the Cursillo movement for the Archdiocese of Newark.

Smith earned a Bachelor's degree in Sacred Theology (1961) and a doctorate in canon law (1966) from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was also a visiting professor of pastoral theology at his alma mater of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, an elected representative on the Archdiocesan Council of Priests, and dean of central Bergen County. Smith was raised to the rank of Papal Chamberlain by Pope Paul VI in 1971, and assigned to the team ministry of St. Joseph Church in Oradell in 1973.

In 1982, he became a member of the faculty of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where Smith served as director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education and program director of the U.S. Bishops' Consultation IV. Upon his return to the United States in 1986, he was named pastor of St. Mary's Church in Dumont and later vicar general and moderator of the curia.[2]

Episcopal career[edit]

Titular Bishop of Tres Tabernae and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark[edit]

On November 20, 1987, Smith was appointed Titular Bishop of Tres Tabernae and Auxiliary Bishop of Newark by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on January 25, 1988 from Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, with Archbishop Peter Gerety and Bishop Walter Curtis serving as co-consecrators.[3][4]

Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee[edit]

Smith was later named the third Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, on June 25, 1991. He was formally installed on July 31 of that year.[5]

Bishop of Trenton[edit]

On November 21, 1995, Smith was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton in his native New Jersey. He succeeded John C. Reiss as the ninth Bishop of Trenton upon the latter's resignation on June 30, 1997.[6]

In 2002, Smith removed a priest accused of molesting a young boy from an administrative position in the diocese.[citation needed] The diocese had reported the allegation to the Monmouth County prosecutor's office when it was first made in 1990, but prosecutors had decided not to file criminal charges because of insufficient evidence. Smith relieved the priest of his duties following a review of personnel files to ensure the public's confidence in the clergy.

On Wednesday, December 1, 2010, his resignation for reasons of age was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, and his Coadjutor Bishop, David M. O'Connell, the former President of the Catholic University of America, succeeded him as the tenth Bishop of Trenton (he had reached the age of 75 in June 2010, which is when bishops must submit their letter of resignation to the Pope for possible acceptance; Bishop O'Connell was named as Coadjutor Bishop that month).[2]


Bishop Smith died in Morris Hall Meadows, Lawrenceville on January 22, 2019 following a long illness.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bishop John M. Smith , New Jersey Catholic Conference. Accessed November 29, 2017. "John M. Smith was born in Orange on June 23, 1935, the oldest son of Mrs. Ethel Charnock Smith and Mortimer F. Smith, now both deceased..... He attended Saint John Parochial Elementary School in Orange, New Jersey, and Saint Benedict Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey."
  2. ^ a b "Bishop Emeritus John M. Smith, J.C.D., D.D." Diocese of Trenton.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Diocese of Trenton, USA". GCatholic.
  5. ^ "Previous Bishops of the Diocese". Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
  6. ^ "Bishop John C. Reiss". Diocese of Trenton.
  7. ^ "A message from Bishop O'Connell on the death of Bishop Emeritus John M. Smith". Diocese of Trenton.

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John C. Reiss
Bishop of Trenton
Succeeded by
David M. O'Connell
Preceded by
Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joseph Keith Symons
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Succeeded by
John Ricard, SSJ
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Newark
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joseph Thomas O’Keefe
Titular Bishop of Tres Tabernae
Succeeded by
Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh, O.F.M.