A Synopsis of St. Aloysius Church
The 1890’s saw the growth of Jersey City and its predominant Catholic population.
In response to this need for churches to serve the masses, Bishop Winand M. Wigger authorized the formation of St. Aloysius parish, which was incorporated on May 12, 1897. Father John A. Sullivan was appointed St. Aloysius Church’s first pastor.
While plans were being made for a combination church and school, the young congregation filled at first two, and soon three, Sunday celebrations of the Eucharist at Donohue’s Hall West Side Avenue near Montgomery Street. The cornerstone for the first parish building was laid on October 17,1897. St. Aloysius Church School opened in 1898 under the direction of four Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth. Until 1903, when the parish was able to purchase a home on Kensington Avenue to serve as a convent, the sisters traveled daily to the school from their residence at St. Aloysius Academy, then located on Grand Street.
In 1905, as Hudson County was drawing up plans for West Side Park, the parish commissioned the architect Charles Edward to design a granite French Renaissance style church and bell tower. Accommodating nearly one thousand persons, the new house of worship and assembly was dedicated on February 9, 1908. until his death four years later, Fr. Sullivan tends a rapidly growing congregation which numbered 4900 in 1912. He was succeeded by Father James J. Hall, who served for more than seven years until he died in 1919.
The third pastor, Monsignor Mark J. Duffy, was appointed on August 1, 1919, and guided the parish until 1949. Shortly after his arrival he began to formulate plans for a new school building which would include a high school. The elementary school transferred to the new structure in September 1923 and the high school opened in the following year. As both schools continued to grow, the original 1897 building was renovated in 1929 for the use of the lower grades of the elementary school.
Monsignor James A. Hughes, Pastor from 1949 until his retirement in 1967, organized the renovation of the high school and the 1959 redecoration of the church at a time when the parish roster was at its peak. During the 1950’s standing room only was routine at Sunday masses. However, the move from the cities to the suburbs in the postwar years eventually affected St. Aloysius as the number of parishioners declined; at the same time the ethnic mix shifted from one that was predominantly Irish to that of one that embraced many Italian, Polish, Hispanic and Filipino families.
Monsignor John J. Cassels succeeded Monsignor Hughes and remained for ten years. In 1977 Reverend Joseph B. Bagley was installed as pastor. during his tenure at St. Aloysius, which ended with his sudden death on April 2, 1986, Father Bagley reinforced the commitment of the parish to its schools. A succession of pastors since then, Rev. Msgr. Peter A. Cheplic, Rev. Richard J. Kelly, Rev. Joseph A. D’Amico, and Father Francis DeDominico, former Academic Dean of Immaculate Conception Seminary, was installed as the seventh pastor on June 29, 1986 and presided over the celebrations of the ninetieth anniversary of the parish in 1987. He initiated the extensive and sorely needed renovations and redecoration of the church and has encouraged the very growing parish involvement with the city and especially with the neighborhood surrounding St. Aloysius.
The present pastor of the St. Aloysius Church is Rev. Juancho G. De Leon.
Visit the St. Aloysius Church website