Parish of St. James the Greater observing its 75th Anniversary
     

[With corrections to the initial newspaper release of the story, and with additions, 
as noted by Alicia Batko & shown in bold]

Also readable, with corrections to the original  story run in the 7/15/18 Sunday NJ Herald, via the updated online version at
http://www.njherald.com/20180715/st-james-the-greater-roman-catholic-church-to-observe-its-75th-anniversary



By JENNIE SWEETMAN    
MONTAGUE -- From a humble beginning of Mass observed in a private home, St. James the Greater Roman Catholic Parish has grown to an active Roman Catholic community. Now, plans are being finalized for the observance of the 75th anniversary of St. James the Greater Roman Catholic Parish in Montague. The special occasion will be observed at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, July 22 at the church with a Mass.  A luncheon will follow at the Banquet Center located at High Point Country Club.
Church historian Alicia Batko kindly furnished information about the congregation and its history. The first recorded history of a Catholic priest in Sussex County dates back to 1759, when Rev. Ferdinand Farmer (Steinmeyer) traveled throughout the State of New Jersey and southern Orange County, N.Y., "who administered to his scattered flock in New Jersey during the perilous times before and during the Revolutionary War and despite the religious intolerance of the colony."
Father Farmer is recorded as setting out on horseback, between 1759 and 1781, each spring and fall, often traveling in disguise, as when under the British rule, liberty of conscience was to be permitted to all except Papists and Jews.
Following Father Farmer, there wasn't a record of a priest in Sussex County until Nov. 25, 1821, when it was reported that Rev. Richard Bolger, of Newark, preached in Newton. In the early 19th century, Newton was a regular Mass station from Madison. 
In 1854, Bishop James R. Bayley established St. Joseph's as the first parish in Sussex County, with the first church built in 1855 on Jefferson Street in Newton.
In 1940, when St. Monica's Roman Catholic Church in Sussex Borough was created as a separate parish, with Father Henry Zolzer as its first resident pastor, the newly created parish covered nearly 150 square miles and included Sussex Borough and the townships of Montague, Vernon and Wantage.
According to Batko, it was through the efforts of the Staudt family that Mass was able to be held in Montague with Rev. John E. Hewetson saying Mass in the living room at the Staudt home on River Road. A sunroom on the side of the house, together with an extension, was later added specifically to hold an Altar for the Masses.
Incidentally, in 1998, at an annual July picnic of St. James the Greater Parish, 100-year-old Ernest Staudt was honored as his family provided a site for the parish's first services held during World War II.
In the news article it was recorded that, "in July, 1943, the Staudt home hosted about 45 families when the new parish of St. James the Greater was formed. The parish grew out of a need to serve local Catholic families in Montague, Hainesville and Walpack during the gas rationing of World War II. The congregation first met at the Staudts, frequently hearing Mass on the sun porch at the poultry farm. The founding pastor was the Rev. John Hewetson. The congregation continued to meet at the Staudts through 1944, when they moved to Rock View."
Batko advises that plans for the actual parish began to be developed when Rev. John E. Hewetson was assigned as the administrator for the Western Sussex Missions and was stationed at the newly created St. Bartholomew Mission in Lafayette. In 1943, the Mission of St. James the Apostle was inaugurated under the direction of the Most. Rev. Thomas H. McLaughlin S.T.D., the Bishop of Paterson.

Both the Missions of St. Matthew's in Walpack and St. Thomas the Apostle in Hainesville, newly opened in 1941 and administered by St. Jospeh's in Newton, were then also placed under the administration of Rev. John Hewetson.
The Mission at Walpack would close by 1971, due to the Tocks Island Dam project acquisitions.

On Nov. 23, 1945, a Certificate of Incorporation was recorded in the Sussex County Hall of Records for the Church of St. James the Greater, Montague. Thomas H. McLaughlin, Bishop, John J. Dauenhauer, Vicar-General, Rev. Francis Warlikowski, Pastor and Lay Trustees Joseph J. Pratschler Jr. and Stephen Liptak signed the Incorporation papers.
With the congregation outgrowing the Staudt home, especially during the influx of summer residents and visitors, Masses were then held at Rock View Hotel. Members of the Reinhardt family donated property for a church.
The land given for the church was situated in the upper left hand corner of the aerial view shown in this postcard of the former, highly popular, resort.
A newspaper clipping provided by Bakto reported that "ground was broken Sunday, Sept. 2, 1945, for the first new church to be erected in the over mountain section in many years, when the Rev. Msgr. Michael Donnelly, of Newton, turned the first spadeful of earth and blessed the ground on which will rise the St. James Roman Catholic Church of Montague.
"The site, in a grove of pine and oak, is situated about a quarter of a mile below Rock View House, on the Jersey road. Land for the new edifice was contributed by the Reinhardt family, of Montague." Gallo Bros., Inc. of Netcong, N.J., constructed the church.
The first Mass held in the church was the midnight Christmas Eve Mass in 1945.
The church was officially dedicated June 30, 1946, with Most. Rev. Thomas H. McLaughlin, Bishop of Paterson participating in the dedication and laying of the cornerstone. The church was described as, "The church building is in itself simple in design. It is a combination building consisting of the church, accommodating two hundred persons and a basement hall most practically constructed for social affairs. Most of the beautiful furnishing and appurtenances have been donated by the parishioners and friends of the parish." Sen. Alfred Littell had attended both the groundbreaking and the dedication.
During the 1950s, a rectory was added by Rev. Sylvius Mancini, the first pastor to reside in Montague.

From 1977 to 1996, Msgr. James Gacquin served as pastor of both the St. James the Greater and St. Thomas the Apostle in Sandyston. Following the demise of Msgr. Gacquin, the doors in the vestibule leading into the main portion of the church were redone and dedicated to his memory. Inscribed on the left door is "Reverend Monsignor James F. Gacquin, Jan. 8, 1935 to March 31, 1996. Inscribed in Gaelic on the right door is "Ar dheis De' go raibh a anam" which translated signifies, "May his soul be at the right hand of God."
Rev. Wayne Varga has been serving as the church pastor for both St. James the Greater and St. Thomas the Apostle since 2007.
Much has transpired since the turbulent years of the Revolution when a priest traveled twice a year on horseback to visit Catholics in Sussex County where he said Mass, baptized babies and married couples. It was during WWII that Mass was held in the sun room of the Staudt home. When the congregation outgrew the private Staudt home, during a period of year when guests and summer visitors abounded,  Mass was held in Rock View. The parish has grown over the years and on Sunday, July 22, the congregation plans to observe its 75th anniversary.

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To show how early Catholicism's roots existed in Montague :

“Father Senez was sent to Madison [NJ] in 1846 by Archbishop Hughes. He was tireless and unwearying in searching out the faithful scattered throughout Morris and Sussex and even Warren counties.

.... In one of his journeys he discovered a Catholic family in Montagu, near the Delaware River, and baptized their infant son, now the Rt. Rev. Monsignor O'Grady of New Brunswick. “

“Rt. Rev. B. J. McQuaid, succeeding Father Senez at Madison, imitated him in his zeal, and by his repeated trips became acquainted with every nook and corner that gave shelter and a home to Catholics. And, indeed, in every quarter of the county Catholics were to be found.

….. In Montague a happy cluster always welcomed the priest; … “


Excerpted from The Catholic Church in New Jersey by Flynn, Joseph M., 

published in 1904.



1850 Federal census lists the O'Gradee family with son, John, age 2 in Montague.


Rev. Edward P. Liptak, SDB (Salesians of Don Bosco), is the only young man we know of, who was ordained from this parish - back in 1959. His parents, Stephen and Rose Liptak, had served as presidents of the Holy Name & Rosary Societies. He was Rector at Don Bosco Seminary College [now SCCC] in Newton, NJ before going to serve the missions in Africa, and is currently assigned to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Memorial Day 
2018


Members of Troop 98 & Pack 98

Group photos - courtesy of S. Smith

At the Memorial Day service, Scouts from both Troop & Pack 98
 offered a program which reflected on the significance of  Memorial Day.
They recognized all veterans in attendance - handing each a flower
that had been made by the Girl Scout Troops #70840 & #71072.  


Sussex County Station 35's annual Chicken BBQ Dinner is
 this Sunday, June 3rd, from Noon - 4PM. 


 Eat in or Take out. Cost of  $12. per dinner 
includes 1/2 chicken, baked potato,  corn on the cob, roll, and ice cream. 
The event is held rain or shine. 
Both images courtesy of the MVFD Facebook page


See any member for tickets, call 973-293-7441, or email info@montaguefd.org.
Tickets may sell out.
Support our local firefighters!
http://montaguenj.org/public_access/information/2018MemorialDay.pdf

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring the military personnel 
who died in the service of our country, particularly those who had died in battle 
or as a result of the wounds they sustained.


Honor the Brave Memorial Day, May 30, 1917. Poster, 1917. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g08122
Library of Congress

"  To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the 
White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. 
The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance. "


" The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans 
to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day 
for a minute of silence to remember and honor 
those who have died in service to the nation. "

Click here to learn of the origin of Decoration Day in 1868, 
which was later renamed as Memorial Day.