Ethnic Catholic Churches of Newark

by Jule Spohn

Growing up in Newark when I did - 40's and 50's - almost everyone I knew would identify themselves by whatever Parish they belonged to. Back then Newark was broken down into "ethnic areas" and each area had it's own ethnic Catholic church.

The very first Catholic Church to be built in Newark was St. John's on Mulberry Street, which was built in 1826 by the Irish Catholics who up till then were Persona-Non-Grata in Newark. The next churches built by the Irish Catholics was St. Patrick's on Washington Street, which was the third Catholic Church to be built in Newark, St. James down neck, St. Columba's on Thomas Street, and St. Joseph's on West Market.

The German's built St. Mary's on High Street, which was the second Catholic church built in Newark, and St. Peter's on Belmont Ave. The Polish built St. Casimir's Down Neck and St. Stanislaus on Belmont Ave. The Italians built St. Lucy's in the North Ward, and St. Rocco's on Hunterdon Street. The Greeks built St. Nicholas on High Street, and finally the Ukrainian's built St. John's on Sanford Ave.

These churches were built by poor hard working people - who didn't have very much money - who came from Europe and their children. They knew what an important part religion played in their lives back home and wanted to continue that same tradition here in their new homeland.

Most of these churches have survived till this day. The congregations have changed somewhat but many of the descendants of these early Newark residents continue to support their family's church and return on special days to continue the family/church traditions.


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