serving the Lord and the Parish since 1848
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.
OUR BEAUTIFUL WINDOWS
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 corporal works of mercy are those actions that the Church calls on us to perform towards the welfare of the physical person. One of the seven corporal works of mercy is to visit the imprisoned. This month of February, the Pope's universal intention, that is to say the intention that the Pope asks all of us to remember in our prayers, is for prisoners, "That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity."
While Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous over one hundred fifty years ago, her message and her miracles resonate still. The untold numbers of miraculous healings related to Lourdes have led to the February 11 feast of Our Lady of Lourdes being proclaimed World Day of the Sick in 1992 by then Pope Saint John Paul II. On this date each year, the Church calls us to pray in a special way for those suffering illness as well as for their caregivers. Pope Francis exhorts us this year to enter into the "wisdom of the heart," a gift of God which allows us find salvation in our sufferings and to make of ourselves a gift in the mission of the Church towards those who suffer.
Lent. Ashes on Ash Wednesday, abstinence from meat on Fridays, fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, sacrificing, praying, giving alms. Does that cover it? What does Lent mean to you? Pope Francis calls it a "time of grace" (2 Cor 6:2). In his Message for Lent 2015, he examines the ways that Lent can be a time of renewal for the whole Church, for the smaller communities of parishes, and for each individual. Our world is sorely in need of renewal and we are each given a part to play in bringing about that change. That does not mean to look for something to give up that will help you reach your weight loss goal. The sacrifice called for in Lent is one of self-mortification, a way to discipline ourselves, to put to death those habits or obsessions that call us away from God and our neighbor.
Does God guide you by your dreams? One can find a plethora of books on interpreting dreams. A quick search on Barnes and Noble website provided almost three thousand choices! They can range from serious psychological works to the truly bizarre, best left untouched. While it is not wise to go searching too much for meanings to your dreams by which to live your life, we do know that God has often used dreams to speak to people, or to reveal Himself to them. By taking a conservative approach, one can pay attention to what God might reveal to us in our dreams. It is best to leave interpretation and any idea of prophecy of dreams to those specially disposed to receive such extraordinary promptings, under the scrutiny of Church authorities. Proper discernment is also necessary. A true mystic will be known by profound humility, only sharing their extraordinary experiences reluctantly, under obedience.
Saint Sebastian, whose feast is celebrated on January 20, was a third century Roman soldier, who is known as a patron of athletes, archers, and soldiers and of a holy death. He has the distinction of having been "martyred twice." Sebastian showed supernatural character in offering himself as a victim in order to bring more souls to God.
A spiritual friend is a great gift of God. God does not intend for any of us to be alone. Jesus tells us He will be with us always. He exhorts us to love one another, and gives the promise in Matthew 18:20, that when two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of them, a figure of the Trinity. Threaded throughout the Scriptures are types of holy friendship; Jesus Himself had very many friends. Examples of spiritual friendship abound in Catholic tradition as well. In the Roman Catholic calendar, January 2 is the feast of two great doctors of the Church, Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, memorialized together because of their great friendship.
"The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church." ~Tertullian, Apologeticum, 197 AD Protomartyr St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, is commemorated on the day after Christmas, December 26. In this way our minds are turned towards the love the Savior brings, love which St. Stephen shows us in a most exemplary way. Jesus came as a Babe, but He came to die in ransom for us. We are called to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, even to the offering of our lives. St. Stephen readily gave his life and with great charity, prayed for his executioners as he submitted to them, just as his Divine King had done. His death is not a sad event, for it was his birth into eternal life!
Mother of Conversion Until Hernando Cortes conquered Mexico City in 1521, and the Franciscans were able to evangelize, the Aztecs had oppressed the region's Indian tribes and held many thousands of bloody human sacrifices to their gods. Cuauhtlatoatzin ("the talking eagle") was a man of fifty, a Chimichimeca of the area that is now Mexico City, when he was baptized Juan Diego in 1525. He and his wife were among the very first Catholic couples of the New World. By 1531, Juan Diego was a widower living with an elderly uncle. With strong faith, he traveled fifteen miles by foot to the Catholic church to assist at Mass on the Feast of Immaculate Mary Ever Virgin, which the Spanish Empire celebrated on December 9 in those days.
Advent: Already? Or all ready? Already?? The stores start preparing for the "holiday" shopping rush as they are clearing out the Halloween décor. Radio stations convert to all "holiday" music as we get close to Thanksgiving. The idea is to start decorating, celebrating and, most importantly, spending as soon as possible in anticipation of Christmas. And, by Christmas day, everyone has had enough and cannot wait to "put it away" and turn off the Christmas music. We have lost the meaning of Advent and the joys of Christmas!
With great prescience, Pope Pius XI, as recently at 1925, established the original feast of Christ the King as an antidote to cultural and nationalist battles against religion. Knowing what the Church was facing, he offered a sign of hope for Christians, and a reminder of the supremacy of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The culture of our era has raised secularism to the status of a religion, in direct opposition to Catholic culture. The whims of the state have supplanted the natural law, instilled in each of us by God, as the new height of authority. Those who dare to express or exercise their Christian religious beliefs are mocked, subjugated, even persecuted.