St. Anthony of Padua Church, Jersey City, NJ

St. Anthony of Padua Church, Jersey City, NJ. Image 1

The Polish community in Jersey City dates back to 1870. Like other New Jersey Catholics who preceded them, many Poles ferried into New York City to attend Mass. There, they found pastoral service in their own language at St. Stanislaus Church on Stanton Street. Between 1882 and 1884, the Polish community in North New Jersey organized to establish a Polish parish on their own side of the Hudson River.

In 1884, the Most Rev. Winand Wigger, Bishop of Newark, appointed Father Ignatius Barszcz, OFM, as pastor of the newly-formed Saint Anthony of Padua Parish in downtown Jersey City. Five hundred eager souls joined together to erect a small wood-framed church (only 40 by 90 feet in size) on the corner of Sixth and Monmouth Streets. In May of 1884, Bishop Wigger blessed the cornerstone, and on Labor Day of the same year, the structure was dedicated. The Polish community in New Jersey could finally celebrate Mass and receive the sacraments in their own Polish church, as well as pray those prayers and sing those hymns that were revered in their homeland's tradition for almost a millennium before.

St. Anthony of Padua Church, Jersey City, NJ. Image 2

During the next eight years, the number of parishioners at St. Anthony's blossomed from the charter 500 to almost 10,000. Father Alexander Michnowski, OFM (Order of Friars Minor), the parish's second pastor, was succeeded by Father Ladislaus Kukowski, OFM. It was Father Kukowski who oversaw the contruction of the much larger and more magnificent church, which had its cornerstone laid in 1892.

In 1895, this ever-growing parish community welcomed its fourth pastor, Father Boleslaus Kwiatkowski, OFM. The same year, the church's interior was destroyed by a raging fire. Since it now fell to Father Kwiatkowski to see to the church's reconstruction, he used the opportunity to enlarge and enhance the chuch, including additional seating for 1,000 people.

In May of that year, the parish welcomed its fifth pastor, Msgr. Ignatius Szudrowicz. For the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the laying of the cornerstone, he made several improvements that continue to this day to be the hallmark of the structure's beauty and charm. The wooden altars were replaced with marble ones, and marble work was placed in the sanctuary along with six-foot high wainscoting throughout the interior. A new baptistery was added, along with several tile mosaics.

St. Anthony of Padua Church, Jersey City, NJ. Image 3

Modernizations to the schools and the other parish buildings continued under Father Marion Walishowski, who became the parish's ninth pastor in October 1971 and served until his retirement in 1985. His successor, Father Eugene Koch, converted the marble baptistery into a chapel honoring Saint Maximillian Kolbe, who had just been canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II. Today, it also contains devotional items associated with Saint Faustina, who popularized the Divine Mercy Devotion. This remains a regular and popular devotion among the Saint Anthony community.

On June 12th, 2004, the parish welcomed parishioners, clergy and friends from around the archdiocese and beyond, as it celebrated 120 years as a Roman Catholic Community and as the Mother Church of Polonia in the State of New Jersey.

based on the Church site page
Contact info:
457 Monmouth Street,
Jersey City, NJ 07302