Since its inception 150 years ago, the link between the Archdiocese of Newark and City of Newark has been irrevocable.
Intriguing evidence of that interdependency can be found in the origins and early milestones of the many parishes that call the state’s largest city home.
Although large, the tract of land for St. Aloysius Parish, wrote Father Walter Fleming, “unfortunately is 19/20ths marshy meadowland, irreclaimably irredeemable.” The church was dedicated on May 8, 1881.
The first Mass at St. Michael’s Parish was celebrated on Christmas Day, 1878 with dedication ceremonies the following month. It was Thanksgiving Day, 1902 when the dedication of Church of the Blessed Sacrament took place.
Founded by the Dominican Fathers in 1875, St. Antonius Parish dedicated its church on May 14, 1882.
The first consecrated parish, St. John’s on Mulberry Street, has an impressive architectural lineage.
The architect was Very Rev. Patrick Moran, who was also the architect for St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Peter’s in Belleville. St. John’s was built with brownstone from a quarry on 8th Avenue in Newark.
The beginnings of St. Mary’s Parish were humble, with a 50x30 foot frame church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in the fall of 1842. Five years later the church was sacked and destroyed by a mob of Orangemen.
Called St. James the Less when the cornerstone was laid on June 19, 1854, a 40x80 foot building was used as a church and school.
The roots of St. Augustine’s Parish go back to 1874 when it was decided to organize a congregation for German Catholics.
What would become St. Columba’s Parish began as a dream by the city’s Catholics for a cathedral fronting Lincoln Park. Matters seemed on the verge of becoming a reality when the cornerstone for the cathedral chapel was laid on Nov. 21, 1869. The chapel was erected but not the cathedral. In the fall of 1871 a new parish was planned for the southern portion of the city.
To fulfill the need for a growing number of Catholics living in the “Hill” section of Newark, St. Joseph’s church and school were built in 1859.
For Italian Americans, St. Philip Neri Parish was established as was St. Benedict’s Parish, founded June 28, 1857, for Germans in the eastern section of the city.
Belmont Avenue in 1854 was the beginning of St. Peter’s Parish. The church was dedicated on Oct. 27, 1862. The Church of Mary Magdalen separated from St. Aloysius on July 22, 1893.
St. Lucy’s Parish was incorporated on Sept. 30, 1891 while the need to minister to Italians saw the foundation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish take shape in 1890.
Before 1888, Polish Catholics had no place to worship, that resulted in formation of St. Stanislaus Parish.
St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral was built as the result of members of St. John Parish on Mulberry Street not wanting to enlarge that church. The congregation of St. John’s urged that a new church be built in the center of Newark. The church was completed in 1850. When the See of Newark was established in 1853, the church was designated a cathedral.
Information for this story was obtained from the archives at Seton Hall University.
Reprinted form The Catholic Advocate, Official Commemorative Edition, October 15, 2003.