HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
In 1861, the year our parish was founded, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President of a not very ‘United’ States. A month later, only five weeks before the first Mass was celebrated in our parish’s first church, the American Civil War broke out at Fort Sumter. Four years later our great country would be re-united … and our great president would be shot dead. In the ensuing century and a half our parishioners have witnessed other wars and other tragedies. Fortunately they have also experienced periods of peace, prosperity and astounding technological progress. But throughout all the dramatic ups and downs, Holy Trinity has been a part of our lives: a force for stability, solace and strength.
In these following pages we will attempt to give a short overview of the long, rich history of our parish. But it must be admitted from the outset that no compendium of dates and data, no list of names and numbers, no survey of buildings and boundaries, can ever more than hint at the real story of Holy Trinity. Because a parish is not merely a complex of buildings, but a community of believers. And the real story of Holy Trinity is the story of her people: a helpful and hopeful people, gathered together by their common faith in Jesus Christ; a people striving to love as He loved; a people trying to live by His example, knowing that, though they may stumble, they must rise up and begin anew. That is, being holy as He is holy.
Since the history of Holy Trinity is inextricably linked with the city which it has so faithfully served, let us begin by looking at the early years of Hackensack, New Jersey.
Hackensack: The Early Years
The earliest inhabitants of what is now New Jersey were a peaceful and industrious people whom English settlers would later call the Delaware Indians, but who referred to themselves as the Lenni Lenape, meaning, aptly enough, “the Original People.” The local branch of this tribe called themselves the Achkinheshcyky, meaning “at the big hook in the river.” Mercifully for us, the early European arrivals simplified the name to Hackensack before they used it to christen their first settlement in the area. In 1693 they also used the name for the entire township between the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers.
Founded in 1639 as a trading post by the Dutch, Hackensack later became part of the English Crown Colony, partly by purchase and partly by conquest. During the Revolutionary War the State of New Jersey was a staging ground for many vital conflicts, and the HackensackValley was descended upon several times by the opposing armies. History records that in 1776 General George Washington set up his headquarters in Hackensack. In fact, it was while retreating with Washington from Hackensack that Thomas Paine wrote the famous line, “These are the times that try men’s souls …. ”
In colonial America religious freedom was a popular ideal, but unfortunately one not always extended to those of the Catholic faith. There were Catholics in the Hackensack area before 1700, but they would encounter antagonism until the Nineteenth Century, when with the flourishing of industry and the building of railroads and canals, the situation improved and Catholicism became more firmly established here.
The earliest name to appear in the annals of Holy Trinity Church is that of Reverend Louis Dominic Senez, one of the pioneer priests of Northern Jersey. The French-born priest came to the United States as a missionary in 1846. In 1853 he was assigned to St John’s in Paterson. The following year he set up a mission at St. Francis De Sales in Lodi and built a small church there, probably the first one in Bergen County.
Continuing his work in southern BergenCounty, Father Senez celebrated the first Mass in Hackensack on June 19, 1857, gathering together its small Catholic community of mostly Irish immigrants.
Another pioneering French priest, who may be considered the spiritual progenitor of HolyTrinityChurch, was Reverend Anthony Cauvin, CP. Father Cauvin founded Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken. Until 1840, when HudsonCounty was carved out of BergenCounty, the town of Hoboken was situated in Bergen. But even after the new county was established, areas far outside Hoboken benefited from the spiritual care of Our Lady of Grace’s able pastor.
It was Father Cauvin who, in January 1859, assigned one of his assistants, Father Francis Anelli, CP, to the care of Fort Lee, Hackensack and Lodi. Father Anelli took up residence at the Church of the Madonna in Fort Lee, and from there administered his three-pronged mission. In his report for the year 1859 to the Most Reverend James Roosevelt Bayley, the first Bishop of Newark and nephew of St. Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the busy missionary recorded that he had celebrated Holy Mass every second Sunday of the month in Hackensack. The Catholic community of Hackensack numbered about 25 families at the time.
The Birth of a Parish
Evidently his Hackensack flock was enthusiastic and generous, for in his year-end report for 1860 Father Anelli recorded that the first Catholic church in Hackensack was already well under construction and would be finished within a month. The small (25′ x 40′) wood frame building was located on Lawrence Street near Union Street. Father Anelli requested that, owing to its street location, the new church be called St. Lawrence. Bishop Bayley apparently complied, because in his report of January 1, 1862 Father Anelli wrote: “The Church of St. Lawrence at Hackensack was opened for divine service on May 19, 1861. The ground and the church cost $1,350. About one-half of this has already been paid. High Mass every second Sunday. Living Rosary and Sunday School societies.”
Towards the end of 1862 Reverend Joachim Heymann, who had been a Redemptorist priest until that year, was appointed as temporary pastor, attending to the spiritual needs of the St. Lawrence mission until August 1863. He was then replaced by the Reverend Patrick Corrigan, a native of Ireland who was ordained in Baltimore. Father Corrigan may well have been Hackensack’s first resident pastor.
Hackensack was growing, and so was St. Lawrence parish, for Father Corrigan reported in January 1864 that the parish had a population of 50 men, 70 women and 50 children; a Sunday School of 30; and a debt on the church of $400. The rigors of the Civil War, in which many of the Catholic young men of Hackensack were engaged, apparently reduced the economic resources of the little flock, for it was not until January 1866, that Father Corrigan could report that the church was out of debt and that he contemplated enlarging the small church.
In May of 1866 Father Corrigan was succeeded by the Reverend Henry A. Brann, a priest who had more ambitious plans for Hackensack. The civil strife of the early 1860s had passed, and the forward-looking pastor decided that the needs of his young, growing parish could best be met by building a new and larger brick church, instead of enlarging the small wooden one. He quickly bought property from John C. Myers on the site of our present church, at the corner of Maple Avenue and Park Street (Pangborn Place). He began to build that very same year, but had only completed the foundation when he was transferred to Fort Lee.
Succeeding Fr. Brann was the Reverend Patrick Cody, who some historians consider Holy Trinity’s first resident pastor. In his reports to Bishop Bayley, Father Cody urged that Hackensack be made independent of Fort Lee and Englewood, because there was so much work to be done among its mainly Irish and German immigrant populations.
A New Church, A New Name
Sometime in early 1868 Father Cody completed the construction of the new church and rectory. Bishop Bayley dedicated it on April 19, 1868 as “The Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity.”
Father Cody was transferred to St. Patrick’s, Elizabeth in late 1869, and was replaced by the Reverend P.J. Garvey, D.D., who in turn left in November of 1870.
From the end of 1870 to 1875 the Italian-born Reverend Joseph Rolando was pastor of Holy Trinity. His stay at Hackensack will be remembered for a number of reasons. It was Father Rolando who acquired the land which he developed into the present St. JosephCemetery. Moreover, he quickly went to work building the first permanent Holy Trinity School. With two classrooms and quarters for the sisters, it was the first Catholic School in Hackensack and in central Bergen, possibly the first in the entire county. Built right alongside the church, the school building would many years later be incorporated as the sacristy of the present church, now also its weekday chapel.
Holy Trinity’s next pastor traded places with Father Rolando. The Reverend Peter S. Dagnault came to Hackensack in 1876 and remained until July 1878. Father Dagnault reported in 1877 that the parish had a brick church, a frame rectory and a brick schoolhouse. He put the value of the parish property, including the cemetery, at $25,000. But he noted that times were bad economically and that people were leaving.
In 1879 the Reverend Michael J. Kirwan arrived in Hackensack and remained at Holy Trinity for seven years. In 1880 he reported a parish of 275 souls, a number of them German, but he noted that there was “a desolate and forlorn look about the whole church.” The church had temporary pews and a leaky roof. Although there was a school building, it had no teachers, and so the school had yet to begin.
The next pastor was the Reverend Patrick M. Corr, a zealous and diligent priest who managed to inject new life into the congregation. Through his labor Father Corr did much to reduce the church debt and to improve and renovate the parish property. Around 1885 he invited the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth of Convent Station to take charge of the parochial school, and he built a convent for them shortly thereafter. This Community had been founded in 1859 by St. Elizabeth Seton, the aunt of the same Bishop Bayley who had first blessed HolyTrinityChurch.
The Reverend Peter J. O’Donnell took charge of Holy Trinity during the first week of 1890 and remained for a successful four-year pastorate. He reduced the debt by $3,500 and purchased property which, while serving as a playground for the children, would later be the site on which the second school and lyceum would be built.
Msgr. Joseph J. Cunneely: Into The 20th Century
Up until this time Holy Trinity had ten pastors, none of whom had served the parish for even a decade. Though each of these men contributed in his own way to the spiritual growth of Holy Trinity, none of them left as indelible a mark on the parish and its people as the assistant from Our Lady of Grace in Hoboken who came to Hackensack in mid-March of 1894 and remained there for 35 productive years: the Reverend Joseph J. Cunneely. His name stands unique in the story of Holy Trinity and its environs. First as pastor, later as the Dean of the County, Joseph J. Cunneely left a lasting legacy of love, progress, and spiritual and temporal growth. His zeal encompassed central Bergen from the Overpeck to the SaddleRiver, from the boundaries of Immaculate Conception Parish on the south to Westwood on the north, including Oradell, where he built the church of St. Joseph.
When Father Cunneely took charge of Holy Trinity, the congregation numbered 692 adults spread out in a wide area, largely of farmland, with Hackensack as the commercial center. But he envisioned the development that was to come to the area, and, with his customary zeal and acumen, developed a long range plan for expansion of the facilities. However, good business sense made him determined to incur no obligations until existing ones had been satisfied. In the course of a few years the entire mortgage debt on the existing church structure was cancelled, and Fr. Cunneely could start to work in earnest on the first of his large-scale projects: The Holy Trinity School.
Ground was broken for the new school building in May, 1908. The cornerstone was laid in the presence of a large gathering by the Very Reverend Dean Patrick Cody, former Pastor of Holy Trinity, on July 19, 1908. Opening ceremonies for HolyTrinitySchool and Trinity Hall were held on May 28, 1909, with the cooperation of the Trinity Council of the Knights of Columbus, which had been started in 1903. Thanks to the generosity of parishioners, every convenience was provided in the up-to-date facilities. Trinity Hall was the finest hall in Hackensack. It featured an auditorium with a seating capacity of 800 and a fully-equipped stage; a smaller hall, seating 300; two bowling alleys; a library; a game room… everything, in fact, to meet the social and educational needs of young and old alike.
Parish youth received another boost in June, 1915 when, thanks to the efforts of Father Cunneely, Mr. F.J. Oliver, and Mr. C.F. Casey, Holy Trinity became the first Catholic organization in the country to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop. The late Father Clarence Seidel, C.SS.R., became Troop 5’s first Eagle Scout in 1917, and many other of our boys have gone on to win local and national recognition in the succeeding decades. Troop 5, the first and oldest Catholic Boy Scout Troop in the United States, continues to strengthen the character of Holy Trinity youth to this very day.
The next major addition to the parish plant came in 1916, when a striking new rectory was completed. A beautiful Tudor Revival building designed by Raphael Hume and built at a cost of $17,000, the rectory received national attention when it was featured in Architectural Record during the following year.
In 1919, on the 25th Anniversary of his coming to Holy Trinity, Father Cunneely’s grateful parishioners published a commemorative booklet and presented him with a gift of an automobile, “as an expression, not only of the love they have for him, but also of their appreciation of the spiritual benefits and graces which through him they have received.” His special abilities were further honored in 1922 when Father Cunneely was named “Domestic Prelate,” with the title “Right Reverend Monsignor.”
A Crowning Achievement
Monsignor Cunneely now turned his sights on helping the parish to realize an even greater dream and challenge, the building of a beautiful new Holy Trinity Church.
Not surprisingly Msgr. Cunneely and the parish trustees again selected Raphael Hume to serve as their architect, and Bishop John J. O’Connor signed him to a contract in the summer of 1926. Mr. Hume, a prominent architect who would later become president of the Liturgical Arts Society, had, a decade earlier, designed Holy Trinity’s stately Rectory. From Hume’s designs arose the magnificent Romanesque Byzantine structure which is the present HolyTrinityChurch. With its eight Corinthian marble columns at the entrance, its octagonal dome and soaring apse, its wonderful pipe organ and beautiful stained glass windows, its impressive interior appointments, at once austere and ornate, Holy Trinity has been so well-maintained over the years that even today local newspapers acknowledged our church as “the outstanding example of ecclesiastical architecture in Bergen County.”
Finally, on the long-awaited day of June 2, 1929, Bishop Thomas J. Walsh led more than 30 priests and Monsignor Cunneely in joyously dedicating the glorious new church. Just a few weeks later, his labors on the church substantially completed, Monsignor Cunneely died. Even with so much of his time and energy occupied by the construction of the new church, his attention to his flock had never wavered. Only a month before his death he had requested a second assistant, because of his concerns about taking care of HackensackHospital, which then served the entire county.
Monsignor Joseph J. Cunneely died on June 20, 1929. Many of Holy Trinity’s 2500 parishioners attended the large funeral, and heard Bishop Walsh and many others pay lavish and deserved tribute to their beloved pastor.
The Right Rev. Msgr. James T. Brown: Brownson High
The Right Rev. Msgr. James T. Brown became the next Pastor of Holy Trinity, a position he filled until his death in June of 1935. Monsignor Brown, who came from a family of wealthy realtors, is remembered for his generosity to the poor. In fact he was named a “Cavalier of the Order of the Crown of Italy” by the Italian Government in recognition of his contributions to Italian-American charities.
Monsignor Brown, whose gruff exterior concealed a warm nature, was a voracious reader famed for his wide learning. He was a strong advocate and apostle of Catholic education. He proved this when, in 1931, he established BrownsonHigh School, popularly referred to as Holy Trinity High. Named after Orestes Augustus Brownson, a Transcendentalist philosopher and convert to Catholicism who became an eloquent defender of the faith, Brownson High marked Holy Trinity’s successful venture into the field of Catholic Secondary Education. Housed within the walls of the school building erected in 1908 this parish high school, taught by the Sisters of Charity, would be a seat of learning for more than two decades, bringing under its influence many of the teenagers of Holy Trinity and nearby parishes.
One of Monsignor Brown’s ongoing priorities ever since his arrival in Hackensack was the liquidation of the debt of over $100,000 accrued in the course of constructing the new HolyTrinityChurch. (The total cost of the church was over $300,000.) After strenuous devotion to this task, Msgr. Brown celebrated the 75th anniversary of Hackensack’ s first Mass by retiring the debt on the church, contributing the final portion out of his personal resources. Bishop Walsh consecrated the totally completed and paid for HolyTrinityChurch on June 12,1932.
Monsignor Burke: A Friend of the Supreme Pontiff
Monsignor Brown died from a sudden heart attack on June 9, 1935. He was succeeded as pastor by the Right Reverend Monsignor Eugene A. Burke, P.A., S.T.D.
Ordained in 1911, Msgr. Burke had served as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. In 1919, he became Vice-Rector of the North American College at Rome, where candidates for the priesthood from all over the United States lived during their seminary years. In 1925 he was appointed Rector of the same institution, a position he held for ten years. It was while in Rome that Monsignor Burke became personally acquainted with Popes Pius XI and Pius XII. In June, 1935, he was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity and Dean of Bergen County clergy. He remained in this pastorate until his death m 1951.
In addition to his many Archdiocesan offices and appointments and honors from the Holy See, perhaps the most exciting distinction Monsignor Burke brought to our parish came in the form of a visit from an old friend. For just as Hackensack recalls with honor the sojourn in its city of the First President of the United States, so during Monsignor Burke’s pastorate did Holy Trinity Parish achieve a place in history when Pope Pius XII-then Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, Vatican Secretary of State-visited Msgr. Burke and stayed as his houseguest at Holy Trinity Rectory.
Monsignor Burke will also certainly be remembered for the work he did in establishing the presently thriving parishes of St. Peter’s, River Edge and Queen of Peace, Maywood. Almost the entire construction of these two parish plants reflect his able planning and supervision. All throughout BergenCounty this genial priest, with his fine character-his sense of justice, sympathy, loyalty and warmth-drew people into his fold and kept them close.
Older parishioners may recall that during World War II Monsignor Burke’s “Chaplain’s Aid Society” furnished the mass kit which Father John Washington used on the U.S.S. Dorchester. When that ship was sunk in 1943, Father Washington and chaplains of other faiths heroically gave up their life jackets so that others could survive.
Msgr. Burke’s funeral, in September of 1951, was the biggest in the history of Hackensack. It was attended by New York’s Cardinal Spellman, four Archbishops, fourteen Bishops, and some 300 priests. Over 3,000 laymen heard the beloved pastor eulogized for his “keenness of mind, graciousness of manner and bigness of heart.”
Monsignor Burke’s successor was the Reverend George J. Baker. For the little more than two years our parishioners were privileged to know him, his high spirituality uplifted and inspired them. No wonder that Archbishop Thomas A. Boland chose Msgr. Baker to become the Spiritual Director of the students of the Archdiocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in 1954.
Rev. Joseph Murphy: The New Holy Trinity School & Convent
Holy Trinity’s next pastor was the Reverend Joseph H. Murphy, former pastor at Immaculate Conception, Hackensack, who was appointed in March, 1954. One of Holy Trinity’s top priorities, as the baby-boom heated up, was to decide what changes to make to accommodate increasing numbers of young children whose parents wanted them to receive a Catholic education. In 1954 Archbishop Thomas A. Boland, aware of the impossibility of adequately providing for the suitable conduct of two departments of education in an already decaying school and anticipating the opening of regional parochial high schools, consented to the closing of Holy Trinity High School and approved the construction of a new elementary school. Father Murphy immediately launched a successful campaign for the massive funds needed to build the new grammar school and to erect a convent to replace the antiquated 19th century building then in use. He appointed parishioners Frank V. Jerlinski and Michael P. Coyle to chair the campaign. Parishioners listened to this appeal and, reaching into their pockets and their hearts, responded with great generosity, making the project a reality. The parish’s sadness over the closing of BrownsonHigh School was tempered, when, on November 17, 1957, Archbishop Boland dedicated the beautiful new elementary school, whose population had, as predicted, risen from 400 to 700 students.
Fr. Murphy: A Centennial Celebration
Father Murphy next busied himself with the myriad preparations for the parish’s Centennial Celebration. Among other things, he prepared a History of Holy Trinity Parish, which was published in a commemorative brochure. On November 12, 1961, a Solemn Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Archbishop Boland in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the parish.
In 1962 Fr. Murphy was made a Domestic Prelate. The following year Monsignor Murphy had the privilege of hosting Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the well-known television preacher, perhaps the most famous Catholic speaker of his time, who visited Holy Trinity and addressed a Holy Name “Father-Son” Communion Breakfast.
When he retired in October of 1966 Monsignor Murphy was named Holy Trinity’s first “Pastor Emeritus”. Thereafter he lived in the parish-owned house next door to the rectory, which was filled with his notable collection of antiques. He died in1970.
Fr. Van Wie: Uniting A Changing Family
The late 1960s and early 70s were restless years in the United States: the Vietnam War, student protests, racial violence, Woodstock, Watergate. Change was tugging at the very fabric of American society, and at times that fabric seemed to be unraveling. Holy Trinity was blessed during those years by the presence of Father John H. Van Wie, whose creative and caring leadership was a match for the challenging times. He came to Holy Trinity in 1966 after serving as an assistant for 26 years at St. Aedan’s Church in Jersey City.
One of Father Van Wie’s first accomplishments was the remodeling and redecoration of the church, including the welcome installation of air-conditioning. In accordance with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, the sanctuary was renovated, the liturgy changed, and the participation of the laity in parish management was increased. These changes did not happen overnight. Father Van Wie wanted to ensure that these transitions would be gradual enough not to alienate any of the parishioners.
The jolly, cigar-smoking pastor sought to reach out and touch all segments of his large parish. In 1972, an Hispanic apostolate was begun with the addition of a Spanish-speaking priest to the parish staff. In 1976 the first Parish Council was elected and installed. In the late 1970s parish programs were initiated for the elderly and the sick, the first permanent deacons began their service to the parish and the St. Vincent de Paul Society was formed to help the needy.
In 1979, in response to changes taking place in the community and with an increasing concern for the special problems and needs of the senior citizens of the parish and in surrounding areas, Father Van Wie established the Trinity Leisure Club, aptly abbreviated TLC. The Club’s semi-monthly gatherings had become the best attended regular meetings in the parish drawing over a hundred participants at a time. Sister Emily Marie Walsh, after serving many years as principal of HolyTrinitySchool, became the parish’s first non-ordained pastoral associate. Her work with senior citizens and her knowledge of so many parish families have become valuable assets to the community.
In 1981 Father Van Wie had designated the sacristy (the original school building) as a chapel, and began using it as a place for weekday Mass. This was done to conserve energy used for heat and light and also to provide a more intimate setting where smaller groups of worshippers could gather. The furnishings were of a temporary nature. But in the spring of 1985 a more permanent worship space was created, thanks to the generosity of parishioners who built a new altar by Mr. Albert Malagiere and donated all the chapel chairs. A similar liturgical effort was made in the LowerChurch, which is used each week for an additional Sunday Mass and for the Mass in Spanish. Volunteers constructed a new altar platform, and the seating and music areas were improved and rearranged.
Holy Trinity has been involved in all local ecumenical activities of note. Our church hosted Hackensack’s first Service for Christian Unity on January 20, 1982. Highlights included the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah by the Holy Trinity choir and a well attended fellowship hour held at the HolyTrinitySchool after the service. The evening was a resounding success.. In 1985 and 1986 Holy Trinity Parish participated with other Christian denominations in an Ecumenical Lenten Series held on a rotating basis, at different churches in the city, on five Wednesdays of Lent. The clergy of Holy Trinity and the other participating churches exchanged pulpits for these stirring services. A very significant ecumenical and interracial event was held in Hackensack on the first national observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in January 1986. Through the sponsorship of the Hackensack clergy a civic commemoration was held at the HackensackCity Hall, followed by a march up Main Street to the First Presbyterian Church. This was the largest gathering of its kind ever held in the city, and clergy and parishioners of Holy Trinity were among the proud participants.
During his tenure at Holy Trinity Father Van Wie inherited and retired a million dollar debt, most of it arising from the construction of HolyTrinitySchool and other parish renovations. To perpetuate the solvency of the parish he instituted a successful tithing program in March 1983.
Throughout these and other endeavors Father Van Wie personified a philosophy which he once confided to a reporter: “The secret is always to give love without ever expecting anything in return.” And, expected or not, the love he gave was amply returned by his parishioners.
Father Van Wie retired at the end of 1983 and was named “Pastor Emeritus” by Archbishop Gerety. He continued his self-proclaimed love affair with Holy Trinity, doing priestly work in the parish where he resided in the house that he purchased next to the rectory as a retirement residence for Monsignor Murphy.
Father Thomas O’Leary – Pastor for the125th Anniversary
Father Thomas M. O’Leary was our pastor when we celebrated 125 years. He came to Holy Trinity from the faculty of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, where he had been Director of Field Education and Dean of Students. Fr. O’Leary has since become Monsignor O’Leary and is in residence at St. John the Baptist Church in Hillsdale after serving as pastor of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff until 2003.
Father O’Leary’s dream of making the church more accessible received a literal interpretation and boost in early 1985, when the Parish Council approved a plan for the building of a ramp at the eastern entrance of Holy Trinity Church so that handicapped parishioners and guests previously unable to come to church except with great difficulty, would be able to do so in their wheelchairs, with dignity and ease. After much discussion a parishioner, together with members of the Plant Management Committee, drew up plans for a wooden ramp. When a carpenter who had bid on the job could not promise an early completion date, parishioners came forth and volunteered their services to build the ramp, which they completed in time to welcome the new year of 1986.
As part of the 125th Anniversary Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter L. Gerety on May 18, 1986, the ramp was blessed and a plaque dedicated, with the inscription: ”This ramp, designed and built through the volunteer labor of parishioners, was inspired by the diligent concern of Rosemarie Kasper and Dr. Joseph Pisano for the handicapped.”
A Parish of Immigrants
In the history of the Hackensack/Teaneck area there have been three major eras of Catholic immigration. From 1845-1860 came the Irish and Germans; from 1890-1920 a large number of Italian, Polish, and other European families arrived; and since 1960 many Latin Americans have settled in the area.
In 1972, a Spanish speaking priest was added to the parish staff. In the intervening years increasing numbers of immigrants from South America have settled in the area. The Hispanic Committee, which has been in existence since 1975, was formed to answer their needs. Its members have worked very actively to promote the spiritual, social and material welfare of our newly arrived parishioners. By 1984 a monthly Mass was being offered in Spanish and a bilingual Mass was offered on Easter. At the request of the people Father O’Leary scheduled a weekly Mass in Spanish in the LowerChurch, beginning with the First Sunday of Lent in 1984. Since then there has been a parish mission with an Hispanic component and a growing variety of services to the Hispanic community. Through the years the Hispanic community continued to grow. There is now a Saturday night Spanish Mass at 6:30 PM and 8:15 AM and 6:30 PM Spanish Masses on Sunday. We have bilingual masses with a combined Spanish and English choir during Holy Week and for special masses throughout the year.
On November 1, 1985, a group of 20 parishioners and 15 people from other parishes accompanied Father O’Leary and Father Ed Cooke, pastor of Mother of the Church in WoodcliffLake, on an inspirational and educational pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The group spent 11 days in Israel touring the sacred places, and then concluded the trip with three days in Rome, where they had the privilege of an audience with Pope John Paul II. Of course, most of the parish’s spiritual activities take place much closer to home. And Holy Trinity has many of them going on.
The St. Vincent De Paul Society, started by Father John Van Wie in 1977, bas been a beautifully tangible expression of the parish’s concern for the needy. Thanks to the generosity of our people, its members have given material assistance, uncounted hours of informal counseling, and food for the hungry.
Fr. O’Leary noted that there were financial concerns when he became pastor. Mike Esposito, a parishioner, was a very capable businessman and was very willing to share his expertise in managing funds. Mike headed the Financial Council. George Manderioli instituted better use of the cemetery facility by finding more useable plots, and instituting a charge for perpetual care. He served St. Joseph’s Cemetery for 25 years never asking for a penny for his service. The seeds of an idea for a mausoleum were also formed during this time period.
Monsignor O’Leary remembered that the late 1980’s were a time of rapid growth for Hackensack and many of the high-rise apartment buildings were built. He wanted people to be aware of the location of Holy Trinity Church. With permission of the police department, signs were erected indicating the way to Holy Trinity Church. These signs still point the way to Holy Trinity.
Father Ward More: A Short Stay
Father Ward Moore was pastor from 1989 to 1991. Many of the programs started by Fr. O’Leary, such as Marriage Encounter and Cornerstone, were continued during this time.
Father Joseph Slinger: A Face Lift to Holy Trinity Church
Father Joseph Slinger was ordained in 1970. He came to Holy Trinity after being pastor of St. Paul the ApostleChurch in Jersey City. After leaving Holy Trinity he became a Monsignor in 1994. He retired as of July 1, 2011 from his last parish, Our Lady of the Visitation Parish in Paramus.
Fr. Slinger, more commonly known as Fr. Joe, is best remembered for his friendly, outgoing manner. He would give all the women a kiss on the cheek on their way into church. He encouraged all the priests to appear outside the church after Sunday Mass so the people could converse with them.
Fr. Slinger had numerous repairs made to the church; including a new roof and repair of leaky windows. He had the church painted inside. The mausoleum at the cemetery was built while Fr. Slinger was pastor. He was responsible for obtaining and installing the beautiful windows in the daily chapel. A generous gift from a parishioner allowed him to install the first set of chimes. Father died July 28, 2016 and was buried out of Our Lady of the Visitation Church.
Father William Koplik 1995 – 1997
Father William Koplik has fond recollection of the Holy Trinity community. He states that it was a very diverse community including Europeans, Latinos, Africans and Asians who worked well together.
Bishop Charles McDonnell: 1997-2009
Bishop McDonnell came to Holy Trinity after having served numerous years in various ranks as a military chaplain and as pastor within the Archdiocese. During his years as pastor of Holy Trinity the ministry of welcoming was instituted. At Easter in 1998 he celebrated a bilingual liturgy for the first time. In 1998 Linda and Bob Bertotti repaired the Statues of St. Patrick and our Blessed Mother. An outside garden received a beautiful statue of Our Lady of the Streets in Memory of the Genocide of the Unborn. In 1998 the hymn boards were placed in 4 locations in the church.
Also in 1998 three octaves of Malmark hand bells were donated to Holy Trinity by Edith Connolly, then a member of the adult choir. The first hand bell choir was formed and directed by Lee Eilert in A.D. 2000. The hand bell choir performed at a Christmas Eve concert. The group remained together, playing at Easter and Christmas for 3 years.
Holy Trinity’s Pipe Organ
The splendid pipe organ in HolyTrinityChurch was originally built by the Kilgen Organ Company. The company was founded by the Kilgen family in the Seventeenth Century (1640) in Germany. The family later immigrated to the United States and their church organs became known throughout the country. A example of their fine workmanship can still be found today in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The company came to an end in the late 1920’s.Holy trinity’s organ was put in place sometime between 1927 and 1929. Our organ pipe’s are still in use today. The console (keyboards) began to deteriorate through the years (wiring, cracked keys, etc.) and it finally needed to be replaced. Bishop McDonnell realized the need and engaged the Peragallo Organ CO. from Paterson to build a new console, which was put in place in 2001. Through the generosity of many parishioners, the console was paid for in a very timely manner!
Tonal Specifications: Three Manual and Pedal Pipe Organ
|Bourdon 16′||Diaposan 8′||Holzflote 8′|
|Principal 8′||Rohrbourdon 8′||Dulciana 8′|
|Holzflote 8′||Viole 8′||Prestant 4′|
|Rohrbourdon 8′||Viole Celeste 8′||Flachflote 4′|
|Viole 8′||Spitzprestant 4′||Nasard 2-2/3′|
|Octav 4′||Chimneyflote 4′||Octavin 2′|
|Flachflote 4′||Nasard 2-2/3′||Flote 2′|
|Quinte 2-2/3′||Flautino 2′||Larigot 1-1/3′|
|Doublette 2′||Plein Jeu III||Terz 1-3/5′|
|Forniture II||Cornopean 8′||Tremulant|
|Trompette 8′||Oboe 8′||Bombarde 16′|
|Clarion 4′||Vox Humana 8′||Trompette 8′|
|MIDI A||Tremulant||Clarion Harmonique 4′|
|MIDI B||MIDI D||MIDI D|
|MIDI C||MIDI E||MIDI E|
|Chimes||MIDI F||MIDID F|
The new keydesk shall amount to the sum of ………………………………………………….$57,860
The bulletin during Bishop McDonnell’s years reflects a very active congregation with many activities for parishioners. The Hispanic community continued to grow as the neighborhood became increasingly more Hispanic in its ethnic make-up. Many activities for this community were formed. Bishop McDonnell retired form Holy Trinity in 2009.
Father Paul J Prevosto: The Sesquicentennial and Beyond
Father Paul Prevosto was chosen by Archbishop Myers to become our 23rd pastor following the retirement of Bishop Charles McDonnell. Fr. Paul accepted knowing that it would be a difficult assignment because Holy Trinity Church was experiencing financial problems. The elementary school was closed, and staff would be losing their jobs. Fr. Paul managed to save money through economizing. The debt of nearly $600,000 due to the heroic attempt to save the school had been paid off by 2015 with careful budgeting and rental of the school building to Bergen Arts and Science Charter School. Additional grave sites were located in the cemetery, increasing revenue there. The Hispanic parishioners now had a pastor who could celebrate Mass in Spanish.
Fr. Prevosto beautified the interior of the church by thoroughly refinishing the floors, returning the Tabernacle to the Sanctuary, and making some artistic additions with the icons of the Blessed Mother and St. John at the foot of the cross, and placing a mosaic of the Pelican beneath the altar in honor of the Sisters of Charity who have served faithfully for a century. Also a beautiful shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas was erected in the old baptistery on 12/12/12. The exterior of the church has been waterproofed and painted and major structural damages repaired thanks to the generosity of our deceased parishioners who remember their parish in their will. And a much needed renovation of the rectory will better serve the needs of the community and her priests. More renovation is forthcoming in 2019.
A new ethnic group has been formally welcomed by Father into Holy Trinity Church. On June 12, 2011 the first Pilipino Mass (Misang Pilipino) was celebrated through the efforts of Delfin Estanislao and the newly former Fil-Am Ministry. On the second Sunday of every month at 4 PM this new tradition continues.
Upon his arrival at Holy Trinity, Fr. Paul quickly realized that a significant milestone in the parish’s history was quickly approaching. And so, the Sesquicentennial Committee was formed and we celebrated with a variety of events for the year.
Sister Emily Walsh has continued her ministry here at Holy Trinity. She retired in the Summer of 2015 at the early age o 94; she is certainly be missed. She graciously served the people of God at Holy Trinity for over 50 year! God bless Sister.
Holy Trinity School And Confraternity Of Christian Doctrine
Since the Centennial of the Parish in 1961 the then “new school” has aged gracefully. Well constructed of durable materials, it shows no sign of the many years of good use to which it has been put. It was built to house two classes at each level from kindergarten through Grade 8, but like all other parochial schools and many public schools in the area it has experienced a decline in enrollment since the peak years of the 1960s, when more than 800 students filled it to capacity. If enrollment has fallen, academic standards remain high, and the current population of approximately 240 boys and girls enjoy the use of the latest audio-visual equipment and specialized classes in such subjects as art, music and computer science.
The ethnic diversity of the student population reflects the very mixed makeup of the parish community. Sister Anne McDonald, principal of Holy Trinity since 1979, speaks Spanish. She has helped and encouraged many of the area’s newer arrivals, both students and parents, to integrate into the existing community.
Unlike many parochial schools of today, Holy Trinity still numbers seven sisters among its teaching staff, as well as 12 lay teachers. For more than a century the Sisters of Charity have provided Holy Trinity School with a long line of dedicated teachers. For generations they have instilled thousands of Holy Trinity students with discipline, knowledge, and Christian values, helping them to become productive members of society. Two of the parish priests also teach religion and guide the liturgical program.
An active Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program serves 350 public-school students, from ages four to 14, through the volunteer efforts of 28 catechists and four administrators. Since 1979 this program has been under the direction of a staff member professionally qualified in the field of religious education, presently one of the priests of the parish. ‘ ”
Holy Trinity has long been committed to meeting the needs of its young people. The parish sponsors an extensive variety of programs that promote growth in faith in an atmosphere of friendship, enjoyment and service.
Active units of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies and Cub Scouts have been familiar features of our parish life for many years. The Catholic Youth Organization draws dozens of participants from grades 7 to 8 (Junior C.Y.0 .) and grades 9 to 12 (Senior C.Y.0.) Holy Trinity has participated in the retreats sponsored by the “Search” movement ever since its arrival in New Jersey in 1971, when the first weekend was conducted right here. There is also a weekly prayer meeting for hose of high school and college ages, a girls’ cheerleading squad, and boys’ and girls’ basketball teams for grammar and high school students.
Today, the youth group meets every Tuesday evening, breaking open the Word, seeing how Christ is working in their lives.
The Sisters of Charity
In the early 1960’s the Second Vatican Council served as a stimulus to create change in what was the norm of religious life. There was encouragement to return to the spirit of the founders, and to adjust to the changed conditions of the times. This presented undreamed of challenges for the Community of Sisters. Sisters were encouraged to hear the cries of the poor and to work on behalf of justice for all. There was a move toward inner cities and opportunities to move into smaller communities and away from the traditional classroom environment. The justification for this was that there was a growing number of graduates from parochial schools who would move into the roles that Sisters served and free up the Sisters to work with the under-privileged. This was the beginning of the need to hire more lay people to maintain the schools. As salaries and the use of technology increased, school tuition increased. In time, parents could not afford to send their children to parochial schools and parishes were running out of funds to maintain the schools.
Bergen County parochial schools were among the first to close. Holy Trinity was one of the last to close. Since 1957 there were a series of principals; namely, Sr. Louise Baptista, Sr. Cecelia de Paul, Sr. Emily Marie, Sr. Ann McDonald, Sr. Bernice, Ms. Strong, Mr. David, and Sr. Janet Roddy. There continued to be a steady decline in enrollment and Holy Trinity was forced to merge with St. Francis School in 2009. The merged schools became Padre Pio School which closed due to financial problems in 2013. The Holy Trinity school building is now rented to the Bergen Arts and Science Charter School.
The Sisters of Charity continue to serve in Bergen County but they are fewer in number. Sr. Emily Marie Walsh, S.C. served at Holy Trinity for 51 years. She arrived here in 1964 as a teacher, and then took on the role of principal, then Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. She had been in charge of Coommunion Ministers, Bereavement, St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Sacristy, Visiting the Sick, etc. She served as a Pastoral Associate par excellence.
On August 21, 2015, a chapter in the history of Holy Trinity Church closed. The Sisters of Charity finished their mission in Hackensack and turned over the keys to the pastor. Sr. Emily at the spry age of 94 after 51 years of dedicated service to the people of Holy Trinity Parish, retired to Convent Station, but not before a grand gala at the Fiesta where over 300 friends and parishioners and family thanked her. And on August 16, 2015 we celebrated a farewell Mass with over 700 people in attendance, from the new parishioner to her students of a half century past. The love for her was self-evident. Leaving with her were Sr. Madeline, Sr. Lawrence, Sr. Barbara, and Sr. Clare. Their presence itself was a blessing to the parish and the city. We wish them well in retirement and thank God for them.
On April 28, 2018 The City of Hackensack and the pastor, Fr. Paul J. Prevosto honored Sister Emily Walsh, SC. With nearly 200 parishioners and family of Sr. Emily, gathered on the steps of the church, Maple Avenue was dedicated as Sister Emily’s Way, a fitting tribute to a woman of faith who was Christ to generations of Hackensackers.
2011 – THE 150th ANNIVERSARY YEAR
The numerous celebrations of the anniversary years began with a Mass on May 22, 2011. Fr. Paul Prevosto presided and was joined by many priests currently or previously assigned to Holy Trinity Parish. The Mass was one of thanksgiving for the past 150 years of our history and also one of petition for blessings in the coming years.
Following the Mass, there was a gala held at The Greycliff in Moonachie. Numerous priests, the Sisters of Charity currently assigned to Holy Trinity and current and former parishioners and friends attended. Following a delicious dinner, Sr. Emily Walsh gave a brief history of the parish and Fr. Paul Prevosto also presented some words of reflection.
The tables were decorated with historical pictures of the parish and all were encouraged to visit all the tables to view the display. Fr. Paul had also prepared a list of interesting facts from 1861; the year Holy Trinity parish was established. There was music for listening and dancing. One of the highlights was the ceremonial cake cutting which was performed by all the priests in attendance. Everyone agreed this was a wonderful beginning to what was expected to be a year to remember in the life of the parish.
As seating was limited at the Greycliff Dinner in May, and there was a desire to include all the adult and children of the parish so a block party was held on July 9, 2012. Maple Avenue in front of the church was closed off to traffic. Tents were raised for those in attendance who wished to remain in the shade. New friendships were made and old friendships renewed as everyone enjoyed the grilled burgers and hot dogs. All who came were encouraged to bring a salad or a dessert. What wonderful and plentiful dishes were shared!
Of course, there was music and some brave parishioners showed off their dancing skills. There were games such as a tug-of war. Due to the high temperature of the day, the favorite game was the water-balloon toss. One does wonder if those balloons were dropped on purpose.
Pilgrimage To Washington, DC
For two days in October, 50 parishioners including Fr. Paul Prevosto and Sister Emily Walsh, enjoyed a bus trip to Washington and Emmitsburg, Maryland. After arriving in Washington by motor coach, the group toured the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and attended a private Mass celebrated by Fr. Paul in one of the numerous chapels of the Basilica. Then the group moved on to the Franciscan Monastery, also known as The Holy Land of America. A guided tour covered the upper main church and the lower catacombs. Those who wanted had ample time to enjoy a self-guided tour of the gardens and meditation areas.Friday evening was left free for dinner and any individual events that the participants wished to enjoy.
Saturday morning all boarded the bus for a most enjoyable tour of Washington. This included a visit to the Capital and White House. The tour passed the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and Korean Memorials and ended with time to visit the World War II and Martin Luther King Memorials. As these last two are relatively new in Washington, even those of the group that had spent time in Washington previously, were delighted to have time to absorb these new landmarks.
Emmitsburg, Maryland is the home of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the Sisters of Charity. A movie of her life was shown and then the tour group was able to tour the Shrine and her home on the site.
On the return journey back to Holy Trinity the group paused for dinner and relaxed with their fellow pilgrims to share their thoughts and fond recollections of the two day journey.
Pilgrimage To Italy and Holy Trinity Church In Rome.
Father Paul led a pilgrimage to Italy, which was a very spiritual journey as well as an enjoyable one, from November 7 to November 17, 2011 as another of our special events to celebrate the Sesquicentennial. After three plane trips and a long bus ride we arrived at Assisi. While we were waiting for our room assignments at the Roseo Hotel, Father Paul led us in the Liturgy of the Hours.
The next day Fr. Paul said Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. We had a tour of the Basilica of Saint Francis and then walked to the Basilica of St. Claire and saw the San Damiano cross which is the cross from which Christ spoke to Saint Francis and told him “Francis, don’t you see my house is crumbling apart? Go, then and restore it!” Afterwards Saint Francis took action to repair San Damiano church, although he eventually realized that God’s message to him was to repair the church as a whole rather than literally repair churches such as San Damiano. We spent the remainder of the day touring Assisi.
On Thursday we departed for Loreto where Father Paul said Mass in the Shrine of the Holy House which contains, according to tradition, the house in which the Virgin Mary lived. The story of the miracles of how the angels saved the house from destruction until it eventually was brought to its current location is fascinating. We then continued on to Lanciano which is where the Eucharistic miracle occurred around the year 700. While the priest was celebrating Mass, the host and the consecrated wine turned into flesh and blood. The host has been analyzed and consists of the muscular tissue of the heart and the blood is real blood and has been preserved. It is difficult to put into words the emotions that one feels as you view this miracle. We continued our journey to the Hotel Centro di Spiritualita in SanGiovanni. Father Paul had a very moving experience because he said Mass at the altar used by Father Padre Pio at Santa Maria delle Grazie in the convent. In the afternoon we went to St. Michael’s Cave which was an interesting experience. On Saturday November 12th we toured the excavations of Pompeii and had Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii.
On Sunday we visited Montecassino Monastery which was founded by St. Benedict. On the bus ride Father Paul read parts of the Mass to us in English because Mass was to be said in Italian. It was a beautiful church. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the monastery with its amazing history and all the beautiful statues. St. Benedict was very close to his twin sister, St. Scholastica, and she convinced him to spend the night talking when she knew she was going to die the next day. At the moment she died, a dove flew by his window and he knew she had died. After all of the amazing sights thus far, we then journeyed to Rome and the Hotel NH Giustiniano. Talk about breathtaking scenes, you cannot miss approaching St. Peter’s Basilica in the evening with the lights.
Father Paul said Mass at the Capella de Beata Vergine delle Partorienti before we toured the VaticanMuseum and the Sistene Chapel. We drove past the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine and walked to the church of St. Peter in Chains. According to legend, when Pope Leo I, compared the chains from Peter’s imprisonment in Jerusalem to the chains of Sts. Peter’s final imprisonment in Rome, the two chains miraculously fused together. The chains are kept in a reliquary under the main altar.
We then went to San Giovanni in Lateran which is the oldest of the 4 major basilicas and is the cathedral where the Pope officiates as bishop of Rome. Huge, gorgeous statues of the apostles are found in the niches in the basilica. Across the way we viewed the sacred steps that St. Helena brought from Rome upon which Christ walked to be sentenced by Pontius Pilate.
On Tuesday, November 15th, we visited Santa Maria Maggiore which was built by Pope Liberius after he had a dream in which the Holy Virgin asked him to build a church if snow fell the following morning. Since it was August 5th and it snowed it was considered a miracle and the basilica was built around 350 and rebuilt several times. Father Paul said Mass in one of the side chapels.
We walked to the top of the Spanish steps and enjoyed seeing Holy Trinity Church which is situated there. We took a group picture at the base of the Spanish steps. We continued our journey to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Piazza Navone where we viewed the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini.
Wednesday morning was another highlight of our trip as we had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. In the afternoon we saw the catacombs, and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Wall. Our farewell dinner gave us all time to reflect on all the marvelous events and sights we had experienced.
Another of the spiritual events held during the anniversary year was a Parish Mission. This was scheduled for 3 evenings during Lent. To tie in with the name of the parish, the theme of the event was “The Trinity”. Since this particular mission was held during the anniversary year, the decision was made to invite 3 priests who had all served at Holy Trinity at some time during their ministry. Msgr. David Hubba was the first presenter, speaking on God the Father. On the following evening Fr. John Ranieri spoke on God the Son. The last evening, speaking on God the Holy Spirit, was Fr. George Ruane. Three very different presenters on three different, yet obviously associated topics, gave a slightly different approach to the Mission. Each priest left sufficient time for questions and discussion. Following the talk, the priest and all present were invited to continue their discussion, and renew their acquaintance with each other, by going to the downstairs hall for refreshments.
The culmination of the year’s events took place in May with a novena and potluck dinner sponsored by the Fil-Am Ministry. The 5:30 pm Mass on May 12, 2012 was celebrated by Archbishop John Myers. Following the Mass, each day through May 20, 2012 the rosary was recited in church. On a daily basis, each decade was prayed in the native language of the person leading the prayers. The congregation could respond in either that language, or in English. Prayers were offered in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Italian, Yoruba and Malayalam. The congregation could respond in either that language, or in English. The multiple languages celebrated the multi-cultural make-up of the parish. On the first day and last day there was also a procession bringing flowers to the Blessed Mother. The recessional on the last day included congregants carrying statues of the Blessed Mother; again representing the multi-cultural participants.
On May 20th, the Novena was followed by an International Potluck dinner where close to 300 parishioners shared music, dances, as well as delicacies from numerous lands. This was a fabulous ending to a significant year in the parish history. The blending of multilingual prayer and multicultural fellowship demonstrates the future of the parish.
As in all things the success of every event of the anniversary year was made possible by the close collaboration of church volunteers.
A.D. 2019 would mark the renovations. The interior of the church hadn’t been touched for 30 years. Water infiltration and age had claimed their victims. The paint was peeling, and the earthen color had fell out of fashion. The new painting is bright and uplifting. The lighting was replaced with efficient LED and raised high to give a better spread. The asbestos tiles were removed and new flooring was added. Also the pews were refinished with a nice mahogany stain. And all this for a mere $850,000.
Memories of Parishioners
During the 150th Anniversary Year, parishioners and former parishioners were asked to submit their fondest memories of Holy Trinity Parish. Please enjoy the following excerpts.
“Holy Trinity was my home for thirty-two years before I left for the seminary in 1998. My family were parishioners for over 50 years. My mother, Lorry Rodak was active in the Rosary Society holding the position as President of the Society for many years, and volunteering in many different activities. “For myself, I am a graduate of our parish school, like my two brothers. Those were great years, as not only was it a place for learning, but religious education. I was blessed with about fourteen religious sisters at the parish, many of whom worked in the school. Sr. Emily was my principal and I am delighted that she is still serving our parish until today. “I was an Altar Boy from 4th Grade, Lector at fourteen, and served on several committees such as Liturgy and the fundraising team in the 90’s. I taught CCD and was active in the Parish Youth Group. Holy Trinity nurtured my vocation which I believe began in the 7thgrade. It was my home away from home. I was blessed by the many wonderful nuns and priests who served at the Parish. It was a happy church and a beacon for participation. “After ordination as a Deacon, I helped out in the parish as I transitioned back to New Jersey, to serve in the Diocese of Paterson under Bishop Serratelli. I was very blessed, and pleased as I was able to say my first Mass at the parish and truly thankful that God gave me the opportunity to serve Him. “Currently, I am serving as Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in West Milford. I reflect on the past of my home parish and pray for years of many blessings for its future. “I wish the Priests, Sisters and Parishioners many blessings. I hope that you come to realize the greatness of the Parish I call home. Additionally, know that Holy Trinity is a place of yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
Sincerely in Christ,
Rev. Michael A Rodak
Latino Community comes to Holy Trinity
“When I first began attending the Spanish Mass at HolyTrinityChurch, it was a small group of parishioners, but with a big spirit of community. Sunday Mass was celebrated in the basement. Every year we celebrated Fiesta Latina; one of our biggest events.
In 1989 when my husband and I decided to marry, I told him that the celebration of the wedding would be in the lower church because thanks to that little church, through the years, working together with a group of parishioners, my spiritual life grew and became stronger. Years have passed and the community has grown so much. The essence of community in the parishioners is still here. I thank God and our Mother Mary for the miracle of having a Spiritual House in which we are welcomed with joy and happiness.”
A Moment of Grace
Thank you to Fr. Doherty. While nursing at HolyNameHospital, my patient Mrs. H was very ill when her husband came in to visit. Realizing her condition he called on me and told me one thing that bothered him was that they never married in the Catholic Church. He was a parishioner of Holy Trinity so I quickly dialed the rectory and spoke to Fr. Doherty and within a half hour he was in the room. Her brother also came in as Best Man while I was Maid of Honor and Father blessed the union of the two who already had 50 happy years together. When Father said to her, “Will you take this man to be your lawful husband?” she looked at him smiling and said, “I will and I did,” and closed her eyes again…she went to heaven that night around midnight. Her husband said the Sacrament gave him great strength to accept his loss and was extremely grateful to Fr. Doherty. He continued to visit Holy Trinity regularly until his passing 4 years later. His funeral Mass was in HolyTrinityChurch. It was truly a memorable event. It all went very well.
Bridie Kennedy, Teaneck
A Taste of the Caribbean
I arrived in the U.S. in 1975, however I did not get to Teaneck, N.J. until 1983. It is no coincidence that I have ended up at Holy Trinity as my place of worship since my parish church in Kingston, Jamaica was the Holy Trinity Cathedral. It was very important to me to find a church home where I could enjoy a full spiritual and social experience even without the warmth of my Caribbean sunshine.
In the more than two decades that I have been at Holy Trinity, I have seen a lot of changes and have met several pastors – too many to name. Over the years there have been many personalities and changes in style of worship and the homogeneity of the congregation has changed. Today we have a more diverse group yet the spiritual teachings and goals remain the same. Throughout this period, there has been one constant – Sister Emily, who has been the cornerstone of our Holy Trinity Parish.
I cherish the experiences I have as part of the spiritual family at this Church and I would like to offer my sincerest Congratulations to Holy Trinity Church on the celebration of its 150th anniversary. May God bless us all!
Today, our church is a model of both physical and communication access. As longtime parishioners, such as myself, are aware, this has been a long road and has taken time and effort. Most of our goals have been reached.
Throughout its history, Holy Trinity has been a busy and well attended parish. When I was young (admittedly a LONG time ago) just the thought of having wheelchairs and other mobility devices at Masses was daunting due both to the many stairs plus the lack of aisle space. The priests made home visits, and one pastor suggested that the ushers could sometimes carry wheelchairs up and down the stairs. However, this was not practical. It was generally felt that there was insufficient space for a ramp and that in any event, it was not likely to be used very often.
The first, and likely most important, breakthrough came when Father Thomas O’Leary was pastor. He met with persons knowledgeable about construction and before long our lovely ramp was a reality. It was dedicated by the Most. Rev. Peter L. Gerety, D.D. on May 18, 1986 during the 125th anniversary of our parish.
Wheelchair users and their families joyfully welcomed the presence of the ramp. However, its increasing use by Senior Citizens, persons with temporary injuries, some pregnant women and others was also gratifying.
Further improvements included the removal of a row of pews on the right front side of the church for the convenience of persons in wheelchairs and to assure the continued easy flow of traffic up and down the aisles. A little later, electric doors were added at the top of the ramp; another helpful aide.
However, another need remained. Hearing loss affects more Americans than any other disorder. While some persons choose to ignore or attempt to conceal it, others actively seek solutions that will eliminate or at least minimize the problem. A Holy Trinity parishioner, Jack Mulligan, advocated tirelessly for an assistive listening system for our church. This involved the addition of a state-of-the art sound system with individual receivers, and ultimately, Jack’s mission was successful. Holy Trinity again addressed a critical need of some parishioners.
Although the system has helped many hard-of hearing people, it cannot help those of us who have virtually no hearing. Therefore, on April 3, 2011, another service was initiated at holy Trinity. CART captioning, similar to court reporting, changes spoken words to typed words which are displayed on a large screen at the side front of the church. For 2 masses each month the homily, special announcements and other information not included in the missal are displayed for all. Fr. Paul has been very supportive of this every.
As a wheelchair user who now is profoundly hearing impaired, in the year 2012 I am fully included at Mass. It is a wonderful feeling and I hope other places of worship will embark on a similar road to access.
Attending Holy Trinity School was a memorable time of my youth. The experiences my brother Patrick and I had and the education we received have been invaluable. The lessons and values we learned at Holy Trinity more than 20 years ago have guided us as children growing into adults, and these are the same lessons and values we now share with our own families.
Christopher Poon, Doctor of Pharmacy, Class of 1989
A Short Walk
In March of 1979, I moved from New York City to Teaneck. Since I never owned a car and St. Anastasia’s was too far, I walked across the Teaneck Bridge to Holy Trinity. Now my tenure will soon total 33.
Judy McLeod, Maywood
The memories that I have of Holy Trinity Elementary School hold a very special place in my heart. From my experiences there, I gained life-long friends, a solid educational foundation, as well as a strengthening of my religious beliefs. My eighth-grade teacher, Sister Anne Marie McDermott, helped mold my impressionistic adolescent mind to the adult that I am today. She helped instill values, morals and a passion for learning that has continued until my adult life and which I hope to impart to my future children.
Kathy Razon, Class of 1991
The best memories I had of attending HolyTrinitySchool were the school dances. It was a time when the whole school would get together, make new friends and have fun.
Katherine Dumlao – Class Of 2001
Life-long Member of Holy Trinity Church
My parents built a house in Teaneck, New Jersey, in 1935 and attended Holy Trinity Church. I was baptized here. My father was so excited that he signed the baptism book with my birth date as February 18 instead of January 18. This error was not corrected until I was married at Holy Trinity in 1968. I, of course, attended catechism class every Sunday and received all my sacraments here. I remember taking the bus from Teaneck High School and then pacing up and down in front of Holy Trinity High School reviewing the day’s lesson for confirmation classes. When I was confirmed, I chose my Aunt Clara to be my sponsor. My Aunt arrived as we were marching into the church. She had been delayed, but I was worried she had forgotten to come. When I was growing up I was in awe of all the Sisters of Charity and all the priests. They were on a pedestal and we only spoke when they asked us a question. When my father converted to Catholicism in 1962 and was tutored by Father Laing, I saw how friendly priests could be. Father Lang witnessed my parent’s Catholic marriage in 1963. Father Laing was scheduled to marry Paul and me. We saw him the night that he died and he mentioned a pain in his left arm. What a shame nobody foresaw the pending heart attack. It was Monsignor Joe Slinger who really made a change. He had all the priests standing by the doors so we could converse with them. We started calling them Father followed by their first name which was a refreshing change and much friendlier.
After completing my doctorate at Columbia University I decided it was time to become more involved in church activities. My brother and I sang in the choir. I came to know Sister Emily well when she brought communion to my mother and me from 1997 until 2004 when my mother died. I am now a reader, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, a member of the choir, a counter of money, president of the Trinity Leisure Club and helping to write the church history for the 150th Anniversary Book.
Dr. Joan E. Manahan
Filipinos at Holy Trinity Church
Coming from the Philippines where more than 80 percent of the people are Catholics, it is not surprising that Filipinos would find their way to Catholic churches when they come to the United States of America including here at Holy Trinity Church. Filipino families have worshipped together at Holy Trinity. Many of them also sent their children to the Holy Trinity Elementary School to ensure that they get the best education possible, not only in terms of academic excellence, but more importantly, in terms of values that would guide them to be true Christians or followers of Christ.
For a long time, there was no formal organization of Filipinos to support HTC as they practiced their faith. In 2010 Delfin Estanislao, Elena Marcelino, Virgil Dumlao, and Martiniana Villa reached out to other Filipinos in the parish to organize what is now called the Filipino-American Ministry of HTC.
The mission of the Ministry is to promote the spiritual enrichment of Filipino-Americans in the parish and to promote the practice of religious celebrations in keeping with the traditional Filipino heritage. It sponsors Misang Pilipino (Filipino Mass) at HTC every month which provides Filipinos in the parish and neighboring parishes the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist in their native language. The Ministry also sponsors the Simbang Gabi, the novena of Masses in anticipation of Christmas. In their devotion to the first and only Filipino saint to date, the Ministry holds the Block Rosary that enables families to pray the Holy Rosary with San Lorenzo Ruiz. Members of the Ministry and their families participate as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, readers, ushers, altar servers, Youth Ministry aides, CCD teachers and are on the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council.
As parishioners of HTC, Filipinos remember their roots and help their native country especially in times of grave need, e.g., raising funds for those who have suffered from natural disasters back home, in the true Filipino spirit of “damayan” or helping each other.
A Memory of H.T.S.
Our family moved to Hackensack in the summer of 1955.ln those days parents were always volunteering their time to help out on bake sales, scouting events, church and school fund raisers. It appeared to be exponential. The more children you had, the more involved you got. When we arrived we joined the other tribes in town like the Carratura’s, Neville’s, Fonti’s, Peletier’s Shaw’s, Scharlberg’s and Carr’s. It seemed like each family had a child in every class.
In those days, you got an hour for lunch. It was enough time for us to walk home, eat and walk back to school, before the bell rang. You didn’t worry about staying in shape, running up and down Anderson Street four times a day. Anyone who went to Holy Trinity in those days, remembers, Father Murphy asking for a 5 lb box of money for Christmas, Sr. Margaret (Corporal Punishment) Fidelis and her ruler, or Sr. Margaret the 7th grade icon and her line.
The line was an ‘institution’ and some kids couldn’t wait to get to 7th grade and be a part of it. She lined the children up around the room and would ask them to spell a word or answer a question on whatever subject of study. If you answered correctly you would move up the line. If you didn’t know, the next student would have a chance to answer and pass you. The competition was fierce. I think I made it up to around position 5, but not through any genius. You see if you were out sick, when you returned you went to the end of the line and had to start over again. I was never out sick.
A memory our family often recalls is that of Sr. Julianna, who had her hands full teaching the eighth grade at Holy Trinity. To children she seemed about 6 feet tall and 300 lbs. Her mere size was enough to scare us into behaving. She was a good teacher, and didn’t stand for any nonsense. In 1957, my brother Tom, was in her class and came home one Friday in a quandary. Sr. Julianna had assigned them the task of writing a poem or a song about Holy Trinity School. My mother being the consummate optimist told him not to worry, she would help him. She felt sure they could come up with something.
Over the weekend, my mother basked in the one on one time spent with her oldest child. They sat and laughed, trying out different songs and rhymes. The collaboration was more one sided in the long run, Mom doing the lion’s share, but Tom was glad just to be done with the task.
Monday morning, Tom handed in his paper. To his shock and amazement Sr. Julianna was delighted with his contribution and sang it to the class.
Here is the song to the tune of “Home on the Range”.
When I was a wee Lad, To Holy Trinity came.
There’s much I didn’t know, But as I did grow
I finally learned my name.
Holy Trinity there’s much you have taught me,
When life gives the test, I will do my best,
To give credit to ole Trinity.
Pastors Who Have Served Holy Trinity Church
Rev. Anthony Cauvin (Old Lady of Grace, Hoboken)
Rev. Louis Dominic Senez (St. John’s, Paterson)
Pastors of Holy Trinity:
1. Rev. Francis Anelli, CP 1858-1862
2. Rev. Joachim Heymann 1862-1863
3. Rev. Patrick Corrigan 1863-1866
4. Rev. Henry Brann 1866
5. Rev. Patrick Cody 1866-1869
6. Rev. P.J. Garvey 1870
7. Rev. Joseph Rolando 1870-1876
8. Rev. Peter J. Dagnault 1876-1878
9. Rev. Michael J. Kirwan 1878-1885
10. Rev. Patrick Corr 1885-1889
11. Rev. Peter J. O’Donnell 1890-1894
12. Msgr. Joseph J. Cunneely 1894-1929
13. Msgr. James T. Brown 1929-1935
14. Msgr. Eugene A. Burke 1935-1951
15. Msgr. George J. Baker 1951-1954
16. Msgr. Joseph H. Murphy 1954-1966
17. Rev. John H. Van Wie 1966-1983
18. Msgr. Thomas O’Leary 1984-1989
19. Rev. Ward Moore 1989-1991
20. Msgr. Joseph Slinger 1991-1995
21. Msgr. William Koplik 1995-1997
22. Most Rev. Charles McDonnell 1997-2009
23. Rev. Paul J. Prevosto 2009-2022
24. Rev. Thomas Quinn 2022-present