St. Rose of Lima Church in Roseville (Newark)

IMG_4841MA30024440-0004IMG_4844MA30024444-0002IMG_4842MA30024442-0003IMG_4846MA30024446-0001IMG_4834MA30024425-0011IMG_4835MA30024427-0010IMG_4837MA30024438-0005IMG_4836MA30024429-0009IMG_4838MA30024432-0008IMG_4840MA30024436-0006IMG_4833MA30024423-0012         The narrative which follows was drawn from the booklet “History of the Church of St. Rose of Lima, Newark, New Jersey- Silver Jubilee, 1888-1913” published to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the church. While the content of the booklet has been condensed for the purposes of this blog, I believe that I have captured its essence. The growth and rise of this Roseville institution, currently in its 128th year bears telling.

 On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the history of the St. Rose of Lima Parish was written at the request of the Rector Fr. James J. McKeever.  Fr. McKeever who had founded this parish in 1888 with less than 30 people had seen it grow to a membership of over four thousand by 1913.

On December 6, 1888, the Rev. James J. McKeever, who had spent the first seven and a half years of his priesthood at the now demolished St. James Church in the Ironbound, was to be given his own parish.  He had three choices “to establish a new Catholic Church in Kearny, in Newark’s eighth ward, or in Roseville.  Fr. McKeever consulted with the very Rev. Dean Patrick Cody, rector of St. James’ who advised that Roseville be selected.  There was a hint of growth and progress in this community which impressed both Fr. McKeever and Dean Cody and the hint was not lost”.

Roseville in 1888 was much smaller and there were many vacant lots and areas where the houses were scattered far apart.  In addition, in 1888 there were not more than twenty-seven persons who were known as active Catholics – who could be depended on to support the new church.

Undeterred, Fr. McKeever consulted with some of his friends regarding a place for worship and was told of a small room above the Roseville skating rink,  that could be rented for a reasonable sum.

The rink stood at the corner of Orange and North Sixth Streets and was built in 1885 during a craze for indoor roller skating.  It was crowded most nights.

Fr.  McKeever’s  intentions were to have Roseville’s first Catholic service on Christmas Day 1888.  He had no time to waste.  With vestments provided by the Little Sisters of the Poor,   and an altar provided by the Rev. Patrick Leonard of St. Michael’s Church, all that was needed was pews for the congregation that was as yet uncertain.  Fr. McKeever located some second hand pews in a junk yard but the price was higher than the young priest thought he could pay.  He shared his trouble with his old school chum, Newark Police Captain Cosgrove and the Captain, being a very persuasive man, was able to secure the pews for a much lower price.

The new parish was yet to be named.  Fr. McKeever was determined to honor an American, and as there had been none canonized for North America, he selected St. Rose of Lima, Peru, South America.  The Bishop approved the name and it became permanent – “I thought”, said Fr. McKeever, “that there was a singular appropriateness in having a St. Rose in Roseville”, and so it came to pass, on Christmas Day 1888 that the little room above the skating rink, was dedicated to its new purpose.

Fr. McKeever said three masses that Christmas Day.  The collection totaled $167 dollars.  Thus the Catholic Church was started in Roseville.

The following outline, which appeared in the booklet, is reproduced here exactly as it was written. It touches upon all the significant milestones:

 

         “Facts and figures are, for the most part, uninteresting, yet they serve a purpose.  In order to enable the history of the parish of St. Rose of Lima to be seen at a glance the following has been prepared.  It is not, by any means complete, only the most important dates being set down.  The body of the history contains many others.

 

December 6, 1888 Father McKeever established parish.
December 25, 1888 First mass celebrated in upper room of skating rink.
February, 1889 First piece of property purchased at Orange and Humboldt Streets.
March, 1889 First rectory located at 22 Bathgate Place.
July, 1889 Second piece of property purchased at Orange and Gray Streets.
October 14, 1891 Present church building bought.
September 11, 1892 School opened in present church building.
September 12, 1897 First Mass celebrated in present church building, which was dedicated.
April 12, 1908 Corner stone of present school building laid.
January 6, 1909 School opened in new building.
June, 1907 Rev. Michael P. Corcoran made assistant.
June, 1912 Rev. Thomas J. Martin made assistant.
June 7, 1906 Father McKeever celebrated his silver jubilee of ordination by saying mass over the Tomb of Apostles in the Holy City, Rome Italy.
December 6, 1913 Silver jubilee of the parish of St. Rose of Lima.
January 8, 1889 First Baptism.
June 16, 1889 First Marriage.
February 1, 1889 First Death.

Number of priests…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1

Number of sisters………………………………………………………………………………………………………….12

Number of parishioners…………………………………………………………………………………………….4,000

Number of school children……………………………………………………………………………………………. 600

Number of baptisms…………………………………………………………………………………………………2,145

Number of marriages……………………………………………………………………………………………………592

Value of church property………………………………………………………………………………………. $300,000

Value of new church to be…………………………………………………………………………………….. $300,000

As I was putting this entry to “the Attic” together I paused to reflect how much historical detail gets lost through the passage of time. There are few living persons who would be able to recall the dates , names and faces contained in the Jubilee booklet. Indeed , it is probable that if copies of this booklet had not survived most of the early history of St. Rose would have been lost.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “St. Rose of Lima Church in Roseville (Newark)

  1. This is great John! I was so excited to find your blog. We met a few years ago at the Bodholdt’s re-union in Cryan’s. I lived not far from you – on Second Street, and St. Rose was our parish.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. I am always trying to add more Roseville items to my collection. The history of the neighborhood deserves to be told. I was sorry that the Bodholt’s party has been moved to the Shore as I would like to have attended more. There are many things in my collection that I don’t post so if there anything you would like to see let me know.

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      1. Sorry John, just saw this. I’ve been a bit neglectful of this site lately. I haven’t been to the party since it moved to the shore either. I’d considered going this year but now my uncle (who always goes with me, and lives on 2nd Street) is ill and things have been a bit hectic. Hope all is well!

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      2. Sorry to hear that Andy is ill. I hope he feels better soon. I’m happy that you still take a look at the site when the opportunity presents itself. I have wanted to attend another Roseville Christmas party, but It’s a long trip to go alone. Please stay in touch and let me know how your uncle is doing and if I can assist in some way.

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      3. Hi John, I believe the Christmas party has been cancelled – thought I saw something posted on facebook but haven’t had a chance to go back and read it. Andy is doing ok, in a rehab place in Kearny for now, going for chemo and radiation. I will keep you posted, either on here (I don’t get on here as often as I should) or if you prefer and wish to give me your email address or if you’re on facebook, a friend request. My email is ukspectre5367@gmail.com, and facebook I’m under Susan Hamilton Helber.

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