Religious Orders Have Been in Newark
Since Early Days
Since its founding 150 years ago, the Archdiocese of Newark has been home to a myriad of Religious orders and congregations who have served with love, commitment and selflessness.
Over the years many men and women of God have come and gone in their service to the faithful of the four counties. An overview of representative orders follows. This overview is not exhaustive, but gives a sense of the progress of the orders, especially within the first 100 years of the Diocese and Archdiocese.
Orders of Priests
Unique in the annals of the Order of St. Benedict is the growth of a full-fledged Abbey from a simple city parish; such was the beginning of St. Mary’s Abbey, Newark.
Father Nicholas Balleis, O.S.B., a monk from Bavaria who came to this country to work among German immigrants, founded St. Mary’s Church in Newark in 1841.
On Sept. 5, 1854, the church was ransacked and destroyed by a mob of Orangemen. Father Balleis saved the Blessed Sacrament at the risk of his life.
Father Balleis was succeeded the following year by Father Martin Haslinger, who remained in Newark until returning to Germany two years later.
In that short time much was accomplished. Construction on the Abbey church was started. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley on Nov. 1, 1856. The church was dedicated on Dec. 20, 1857.
During this time the bishop had been negotiating for a branch of St. Vincent’s Abbey for the Benedictine Order in Newark. In September 1858 Bishop Bayley conveyed to the Benedictines the property belonging to St. Mary’s and entrusted to the monks the care of the congregation.
In 1868 a college was opened to provide a classical education to students from the greater-Newark area. It developed as a preparatory school and today is St. Benedict’s Prep.
Father Gerard Pilz built the Abbey complex and the monastery. Independent Abbey status was obtained with a Papal Brief on Dec. 19 1884.
In 1860 the Passionist Fathers preached their first mission in New Jersey at old St. Mary’s Parish in what was then known as West Hoboken and today is Union City. A year later, St. Mary’s Hall, on the same hill, became the first state foundation where the first pioneer Fathers took care of Our Lady of Mercy Parish.
The year 1863 saw the Passionist Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel build on the same site in the Kerrigan Woods section of West Hoboken. A short time later, the first Passionist community began full observations there. The Monastery Church of St. Michael, built in 1857, was destroyed by a fire in 1934.
From the ashes arose the new St. Michael’s, with its massive twin towers dominating the Jersey City skyline.
In their early years the Passionists were in charge of St. Mary’s, Bayonne; Immaculate Conception, Montclair; and Sacred Heart, Shadyside. They also founded St. Lawrence Parish, Weehawken, and built and cared for St. Paul’s, Greenville; Holy Family, Union City; and St. Joseph’s, West New York.
When Father Anastasius J. Smits of the Carmelite Fathers presented himself to Bishop Bayley in 1878, the Diocese of Newark needed priests. The bishop told him he could take over the spiritual care of Bergen County on the condition his order could supply an adequate number of priests.
Being unable to do so, Father Smits was appointed to the pastorate of the Church of the Madonna, Fort Lee, and its mission of St. Cecilia, Englewood.
St. Peter’s, pioneer parish of Jersey City, became the center of the Jesuit Fathers in the Archdiocese.
Father Victor Beaudevin, S.J. received the title to the church and school in April of 1871 and became pastor of St. Peter’s. He began the college building in 1877. Classes began the following year.
The first members of the order Friars Minor Conventional came to Hoboken in 1872. Father Alphonsus Zoeller, O.F.M. founded St. Joseph Parish.
St. Antoninus Parish, Newark, was founded in 1875 by the Dominican Fathers. With rapid expansion of the parish, a church was built in 1882, a school seven years later and rectory in 1906. The original school was the victim of a fire on Jan. 30, 1923. The upper portion of the church was completed in 1941.
In 1919 the Dominican Fathers were invited by Bishop John J. O’Connor to take charge of Sacred Heart Parish, Jersey City.
Father Ferdinand Miller, O.F.M. and his small group of Franciscan Fathers came to the Diocese of Newark in August, 1876. From that starting point, the Franciscan Fathers expanded throughout what is now the Archdiocese of Newark.
Members of the Society of St. Francis de Sales, known as the Salesians of Don Bosco, opened Don Bosco High School, Ramsey, in 1915.
The Capuchin Franciscans began their work as parish priests and missionaries to Italian immigrants in the early 1900’s.
Tenafly in 1921 was where the African Mission Fathers established St. Anthony’s Mission House. The Pallontine Fathers came to St. Philip Neri Parish, Newark, in 1924.
Fathers of the Spanish Province of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi arrived in 1926. Their responsibility was the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking population of St. Joseph Parish, Newark. They expanded their mission in 1947 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Elizabeth.
Congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate
The Congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate arrived in the Diocese in 1927 at St. Nicholas Parish, Palisades Park.
Orders of Brothers
The Brothers of Christian Schools, began teaching in the Diocese of Newark in 1866 when they took over the boys department of St. Patrick’s School in the city.
With the mission to nurse and manage hospitals for male patients, the Alexian Brothers arrived in 1892.
In September of 1954, five Marist Brothers opened Marist High School.
Orders of Sisters
The original Benedictine Sisters came from Germany in 1852 and settled in Pennsylvania. Five years later six Sisters arrived in Newark. The motherhouse remained in Newark until 1887 when it moved to Maryland. Newark then became a mission house.
In 1864, Father Henry Lempke applied to the convent for several Sisters to take charge of his school, St. Michael’s, Elizabeth which had opened in September. Formal establishment of the Convent of St. Walburga occurred in 1868 when the Sisters moved from St. Michael’s to the newly built convent of the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth. It is where they opened an academy and boarding school for girls in 1869.
Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth
The History of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth with their Motherhouse at Convent Station is closely connected with that of the Diocese of Newark.
The Sisters of Charity follow the rule of St. Vincent dePaul as approved for the foundress of the Sisters of Charity in the United States, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton. Her nephew was Most Rev. James Roosevelt Bayley who established the community in the Garden State.
When Newark became a separate diocese in 1853, the Sisters of Charity were unable to supply enough Religious to meet the need. Finally a new diocesan community was established.
In 1860 about 30 Sisters went from Newark to Convent Station, then Madison, where the permanent Motherhouse of the community was established in buildings formerly occupied by Seton Hall College.
The success of the Academy of St. Elizabeth for girls, founded in 1859, led to the demand for a Catholic college for women. In 1899 the Sisters of Charity opened the College of St. Elizabeth. It was the first college for women in New Jersey and among the first Catholic colleges for women in the United States to confer degrees.
Franciscans, Dominicans, and Many Others Contribute
The first Missionary Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis came to teach in Holy Family School, Union City, in 1871. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, were introduced into the Diocese of Newark in 1872.
The year 1873 saw the Sisters of the Order of St. Dominic, better known as the Dominican Sisters, came to diocese to teach at St. Paul’s, Jersey City.
The Sisters of the Third Franciscan Order, Minor Conventual, the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, came to the Church of Newark in 1875 when they opened St. Francis School, Hoboken. That same year, saw the first of the Sisters of Christian Charity, Daughters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception begin teaching at St. Augustine School, Newark and St. Michael’ s School, Elizabeth.
Bishop Corrigan’s desire to provide for the aged poor resulted in the Little Sisters of the Poor coming to Newark in 1878.
The Dominican Nuns of the Second Order of Perpetual Adoration came to Newark because Bishop Corrigan wanted there to be a diocesan community of contemplatives.
Bishop Corrigan had become acquainted with the Nuns of the Second Order of St. Dominic in France (Cloistered). Four Sisters arrived in July 1880. In the fall of 1882, ground was broken for a monastery on 13th Avenue in Newark.The Monastery at 13th Street was closed in October of 2003 after the five remaining elderly sisters were dispersed to other communtiies in the Northeast.
The Dominican Sisters of Caldwell began as members of the Sisters of the Second Order of St. Dominic. Bishop Winard Wigger established them as an independent community of the Second Order at St. Dominic’s Convent and Academy, Jersey City in 1881. Mother Mary Catherine Muth became the first Prioress. The Motherhouse and Novitiate were transferred to Caldwell. In 1912.
In 1927 a new school building for Mt. St. Dominic went up. In 1938 permission was granted to establish the first college for women in the Archdiocese. Caldwell College opened a year later.
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark, founded in England in 1888, was received in the Church of Newark that same year.
On Dec. 21, 1891, the first community of the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary in America was founded with a convent in Union City.
Founded in Warsaw, Poland in 1855, the Felician Sisters came to Newark in 1895 from Detroit to teach at St. Stanislaus School.
The Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate, known as the Pallottine Sisters, came to Union City in 1897. They established an orphanage and Holy Rosary Academy. In 1901 the orphans were transferred to the new Sacred Heart Orphanage, Kearny.
Arriving in Newark in 1898, the Cabrini Nuns organized Mt. Carmel School which opened in the basement of a factory building. It was intended primarily for immigrant children. It closed in 1903 when the Sisters opened St. Anthony’s Orphanage in Arlington.
The Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception opened St. Francis Home, Jersey City, in 1899. The orphanage moved to Union City in 1904.
The Sisters of St. Francis of the Mission of the Immaculate Conception, Conventuals of the Third Order, came to Orange in 1905 to conduct a small 30-bed general hospital. It was the forerunner of the former St. Mary’s Hospital.
The Sisters of St. John the Baptist, had their first American establishment at St. Lucy’s Newark, in 1906.
At the request of Father Alphonse Schaeken, pastor of St. Paul’s Parish, Jersey City, the Sisters of Charity of Providence opened St. Ann’s Home for the aged in 1911.
At the request of pastors of Polish language parishes, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception came to the diocese staffing Our Lady of Czestochowa School, Harrison; Sacred Heart School, Hudson Heights, 1917 and St. Hedwig’s School, Elizabeth, 1926.
The first missionary cenacle of the Trinitarian Sisters was established at Mt. Carmel Parish, Orange in 1915.
The Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary, Summit, an off-shoot of the Dominican Sisters Convent, Union City, established the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in 1919.
From Naples, Italy that same year, came the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth. They had been invited by the pastor of Holy Rosary Parish, Newark.
The year 1922 saw the Capuchin Sisters of the Infant Jesus come to Bayonne to staff an orphanage.
The Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus opened Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child, Summit, in 1924.
The work of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God began with the opening of Ss. Peter and Paul School, Elizabeth in 1926
In 1929 the School Sisters of St. Francis began to staff area classrooms. That same year saw the first Sisters of the Institute of the Religious Teachers Filippini established as teachers at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Newark.
Responsibility of the St. Walburga Orphanage, Roselle, was given to the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1931. In 1938, Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis came to the Church of Newark at Assumption School, Wood Ridge.
When the Archdiocese of Newark was celebrating a century in 1954, recent arrivals included Franciscan Sisters of St. Bernardine at St. Anne’s, Garwood and the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame who went to St. Rose of Lima School, Short Hills.
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