Parish History

church front Our Parish was founded in 1847. Many Catholics who came to Boonton were employed at the furnace of the New Jersey Iron Company, located beside the Rockaway River. The company gave the Catholic families a piece of land to build their own church upon with an adjoining cemetery. This meant the families would no longer have to travel to Madison for weddings, funerals and Sunday mass.

 

The site of the first church was the ground where the discernment house, Domus Bartemeus now stands. A small white frame building, it was completed in December 1847. The cemetery was adjoining and as the parish grew, land was purchased for St. Mary’s cemetery on Wootton Street in 1858, and the bodies were removed from the original cemetery and re-interred there.

 

In 1860, the first resident pastor, the Rev. Dominic Castet urged the building of a new larger stone church to meet the needs of the growing community. The cornerstone of the present church was laid September 16, 1860. Jeremiah O’Rourke was the building’s architect. Responsible for many designs of churches in New Jersey built during that era, he later went on to design the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The current windows in the church were memorialized and installed between 1912 and 1920 when extensive renovation were made.

 

In 1961, because the church had fallen into disrepair and declared unsafe, it was closed for a period of two years. During the summer of 1962, the community witnessed the removal of the original slate roof from the church, leaving only the four walls and tower. It was December 18, 1963 when the church and new transept were reopened. A new double cornerstone was placed in the transept wall, bearing the dates 1860-1963.

 

The stone church on the hill, built in 1860 to accommodate 700 of the town’s 2,000 inhabitants, now provides for more than 1400 families.

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