Some 22 months after a devastating and fatal fire in Union City on March 4, 2017, the Catholic community of Ss. Joseph and Michael Parish in Union City will celebrate its first Mass in a completely rebuilt church building.
Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, will consecrate the altar and rededicate the church at an inaugural Mass set to begin at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 15.
This Mass is a fulfillment of a promise that the Cardinal made to parishioners soon after their church building was damaged severely from a fire that also caused the death of a 2 year-old boy, injured many others, and ravaged homes in the area surrounding Central Avenue and Summit Avenue on the night of March 4.
In a letter written in English and Spanish and distributed to parishioners soon after the fire, the Cardinal stated: “I know that the Union City community continues to feel pain from the events of March 4. I met many of you the night of the tragedy and we shared our fears, asking Christ the Redeemer for guidance and support. Today, I am happy to report that we will rebuild Ss. Joseph and Michael.”
The rebuilding project cost more than $6 million and took some 18 months to complete. Many skilled craftspeople and construction workers, architects, engineers, liturgical experts and staff from the Archdiocese of Newark restored the interior and exterior of the Church, and replaced the liturgical vessels, vestments, statuary and other items that were lost in the fire. While the focus has been to restore the worship space in historically correct fashion, the project also incorporated a number of sound value judgments based on the engineering technology of today. Insurance coverage will provide the majority of funding for the project.