The idea of making Gloucester a parish took shape in 1848, when a petition was presented to Bishop Kenrick of Philadelphia and the Rev. E.Q.S. Waldron was appointed. Mass was first said in a private house, but the accommodations soon proved too small for the growing congregation. The superintendent of the school hall, though a non-Catholic, gave the use of the hall to Father Waldron, who for a time said Mass there every Sunday. Soon, however, the little flock lost this privilege.

In 1849, a Protestant, Mr. Robb, donated the ground for a church. The pastor and people immediately made every effort to erect a suitable edifice. Father Matthew, a famous Irish temperance priest, buried the cornerstones 10 feet underground. The new church was finally erected and had a seating capacity of 400. The Rev. Thomas J. McCormack was appointed pastor in the spring of 1886, and soon found there was more work to be done as the number of Catholics increased with the growth of the town. In the autumn of 1886, he secured 12 lots bounded by Sumerset, Atlantic, and Monmouth Streets.
The present parochial residence was built at the cost of $14,000. In March 1888, Father McCormack moved into the rectory. The lots and rectory were paid for, a few old debts were wiped out, and on March 24th, 1888, ground was broken for the church. On July 15th, Bishop O'Farrell laid the cornerstone. The church was brought to completion without delay, and dedicated on November 24th, 1889. The cost of the structure was $65,000. In the spring of 1893, the last dollar of debt on the Saint Mary property was paid.
The Saint Mary Church, one of the most beautiful churches in New Jersey, is built of hard sandstone of a bluish gray color. The stone trimmings are tool-dressed and the front has a fine stone gable cross. The style of architecture is early Gothic.

The church is 140 feet in length by 70 feet in width; adding to the beauty of the structure is a tower and spire, together 160 feet in height.
The chimes were purchased from the McShane Bell Foundry, Baltimore, Md. They are composed of 10 bells, the largest 3,085 pounds and the weights gradually decreasing to the smallest, which weighs about 200 pounds. The total weight of all the bells, exclusive of the frames and attachments, is 10,673 pounds. The entire value, including delivery and putting in the tower was $3,200.
The Playing Stand for the bells is made of oak. It is almost square, having 10 levers on brass hinges, a silver plate on each lever bearing the letter denoting the tone of each respective Bell, and above the lever is a music rack. The chimes were of great importance to the parish as the people pledged what was then a great deal of money from their weekly earnings. The Dedication of the Bells was held on a Sunday, in November 1891, beginning at 10:00 a.m. and continued well into the evening. The following names are engraved on each Bell: Saint Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Thomas, Saint Michael, Saint Patrick, Saint Dominic, Saint Alphonsus, Saint Ignatius, Saint Benedict, and Saint Vincent de Paul.
The Stations of the Cross were first requisitioned March 1909 from Germany and installed January 1911, at which time the remaining balance of $2,100 was paid. The total cost was $9,600.


The windows in the new Saint Mary Church from the art studios of Megnen, Clamens and Bordereau, Paris et Augers, established in 1882, have been pronounced by critics to be some of the finest ever imported. Many of the faces are authentic portraits of the saints represented.

There are twenty windows in the church proper. Those on the left side, front to back of the church contain pictures of the Twelve Apostles: Saint Andrew, Saint James the Greater, Saint Philip, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Thomas, Saint James the Less, Saint Simon, Saint Jude, Saint Patrick, and Saint Bridget.
On the right side, front to back are the Doctors of the Church: Saint Jerome, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Ansalem, Saint John Chrysotom, Saint Bernard, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Francis De Sales, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Theresa of Avila, and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
The three large windows above the altar, the two at the side altars, and the two in back of the reconciliation rooms were all designed and made in Germany. From left to right, behind the altar, are the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.
At the Blessed Mother altar is the Annunciation; at the Saint Joseph altar is the death of the foster father of Our Lord. This particular subject is rarely if ever memorialized in any other church. Behind the reconciliation room on the left is the Assumption of Mary and on either side are the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Behind the reconciliation room on the right is the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The side windows in the church were donated, each by: Joseph O. Kane Sr., John Goan Sr., James J. Foster, in memory of his parents; James McLaughlin, Mrs. McMonagle, in memory of her husband; Patrick J. Kelly, Ferdinand McWilliams and sons, Mrs. E. Taylor, Patrick McGlade, Sisters of Saint Dominic, Mary Bierly, in memory of her uncle; Francis Hughes, Saint Mary's Cadets and Mrs. Michael O'Brien, in memory of her daughter.
Martin Coyle Sr. and Michael Coyle donated windows in the front atrium. Martin Coyle Jr. donated windows in the tower entrance. William J. Thompson, Hugh Fitzpatrick and Catherine McElwee, in memory of her parents donated the three windows in the front gable, over the main entrance. Mrs. Mary O'Brian, in memory of her husband, donated one of the tower windows and James McConnerby, in memory of his wife, donated the window over the side entrance opening into the aisle.

The twenty windows in the main part of the church are:

  1. 1. RIGHT SIDE, front to back:
  2. Saint Andrew - Apostle, brother of Saint Peter, November, 30.
  3. Saint James the Greater - Apostle, first Bishop of Jerusalem, July, 25.
  4. Saint Philip - Apostle, crucified under the Emperor Domitian, May, 3.
  5. Saint Bartholomew - Apostle, also called Nathaniel, August, 24.
  6. Saint Thomas - Apostle, "Doubting", but a martyr, as were all Apostles, July, 3.
  7. Saint James the Less - Apostle, cousin of Jesus, May, 3.
  8. Saint Simon - Apostle, called the "Zelot" for his great passion, October, 28.
  9. Saint Jude - Apostle, brother of Saint James the Less, October, 28.
  10. Saint Patrick - Apostle, Patron of Ireland, March, 17.
  11. Saint Bridget - Apostle, Patroness of Ireland, February, 1.
  1. LEFT SIDE, front to back:
  2. Saint Jerome - Translated the Bible into the vernacular, September, 30.
  3. Saint Gregory the Great - Patron of teachers, September, 3.
  4. Saint Anselm - Doctor of the Church, April 21.
  5. Saint John Chrysotom - Great teacher "Chrysotom" means "golden Tongued", September, 13.
  6. Saint Bernard - Founder of the monastic life, August, 20.
  7. Saint Thomas Aquinas - Dominican priest who wrote the "Summa", January, 28.
  8. Saint Francis de Sales - Founder of Visitation Order, January, 24.
  9. Saint Alphonus Liguori - Patron of theologians, August, 1.
  10. Saint Theresa of Avila - Doctor of the Church, reformer of Carmelite Order, October, 15.
  11. Saint Elizabeth - Queen of Hungary, Patroness of Religious, November, 17.
  1. In Priests' Sacristy:
  2. Saint Mary Magdalene - Disciple of Our Lord, first to witness the Resurrection, July, 22.
  3. Saint Francis Cabrini - Born in Italy, but first canonized American saint, November, 13.
  4. Saint Lucy - Patroness of the blind, December, 13.
  5. Saint Francis of Assisi - Patron of Italy, Founder of the Franciscan Order, October, 4.
  1. In Alter Servers Sacristy:
  2. • Our Lady of Czestochowa - Patroness of Poland, the "Black Madonna" a miraculous painting.
  3. • Saint Joseph the Worker - Spouse of the Blessed Mother, Patron of all workers, May, 1.
  4. • Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal - Medal given to Saint Catherine Laboure in France, November, 27.
  5. • Saint Teresa of Lisieux - "Little Flower", Patroness of Missionaries, October, 1.

Besides the windows, nearly all the necessary altar furniture, etc., were donated by different members of the parish. The side altar of Saint Mary was donated by The Ancient Order of Hibernians. The side altar of Saint Joseph was donated by The Saint Mary Society and The Lady of Lourdes Society. The statue of Saint Mary was donated by Henry McBride and the statue of Saint Joseph by Mrs. Thomas Brennan.

Two angels on high altar were donated by The Catholic Social Club, the altar cross by James McGlade the credence table by Mary F. Phepoe, large candlesticks on high altar by Frank Fath, large candlesticks for Saint Joseph altar by Mrs. Bridget Hughes, baptismal font by Saint Mary school children, sanctuary lamp by Miss. McFadden, ostensorium and thabor by a gentleman and lady of the parish.

Three plush chairs for the sanctuary were donated by Joseph J. Gallagher, of Camden, the tabernacle lining by Mrs. Howarth, missal cover by Mary E. Gorman, vases for side altars by Mary Kelly, vases for high altar by Mrs. Julia Maloney, candelabra by Mrs.Hines, another set of candelabra by Mrs. Cloran, vestments by Henry Farrelly, cruets, of cut glass and gold mounted by Charles A. Lenny, smaller candlesticks for high alter by Mrs. Henry McIntre.

Smaller candlesticks for Blessed Virgin Mary altar were donated by Mary A. Lenny, smaller candlesticks for Saint Joseph alter by Mrs. Annie Wittington, chime of altar bells by Mary Campbell, paschal candlesticks by Mrs. James McGlade, a brass missal stand by a lady of the parish, and a pair of candlestick brackets for high altar by William Whalen.

Located on the back wall of the church are two diorama panels illustrating scenes from the life of Saint Patrick. The panel on the right depicts Saint Patrick's arrival on the island of Ireland. He is shown preaching to King Leoghaire (Leary), and lighting the Paschal fire on the Hill of Slane to celebrate the Easter Vigil and announcing the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. Notice the bard or poet asleep and holding a harp, the symbol of Ireland. The panel on the left depicts Saint Patrick baptizing two children, perhaps children of the King. The cut wood and ax symbolize the end of the druidic religion, that centered in sacred oak groves, with the coming of Christianity. The origin of these panels is uncertain, in the meantime La Fheile Padraig!