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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The "Storied History Of St. Paul's In Stone Harbor" Story

The original St. Paul's Church in 1911.
It was an ordinary day.  Just walked out of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Stone Harbor after snapping a few photos of the beautiful interior of the church that sits along Third Avenue in this beach town located in New Jersey.  The church is part of the Saint Brendan the Navigator Parish and recently celebrated 100 years as a parish in 2013.
Parishioners enjoy a service in the 1930s.
Back in the early 1900s there were about fifty families that lived on the sparsely populated southern end of Seven Mile Beach which was home at the time to herds of livestock, windswept beaches and salt marshes.  With the influx of families, churches soon followed, with St. Mary's Episcopal Church being the first built.  Then in the summer of 1910, Catholic services began in an abandoned house at the foot of 83rd Street with Father Maroney of St. Ann's Church in nearby Wildwood visiting to officiate.  
Preparing for the blessing or the original church.
In 1911 plans were made to construct the first Roman Catholic Church in Stone Harbor.  By the Fourth of July of that year the church was completed and finally dedicated as a parish on June 19, 1913. As the parish grew it became apparent that a new church was needed and in 1952 ground was broken for the current St. Paul's Church at the corner of Third Avenue and 99th Street. The church cost $250,000 with another $50,000 spent on furnishings.  This church was dedicated on July 5th, 1953. Today St. Paul's is part of the Saint Brendan the Navigator parish which was created in 2010.  
This is St. Paul's Hall which eventually held the school.
It was built in 1942 and demolished in the 1970s. 
A few firsts for St. Paul's when it was first built were: (1) the first baptism on July 6, 1913, (2) the first Catholic child born in Stone Harbor to Michael Lennon and Anna Kelly, (3) the first funeral on August 27, 1914 when parishioner Julien Van Thuyne died at the age of 82, (4) the first marriage on November 4, 1914 uniting William Reynolds and Ada Tear.
The current St. Paul's Church.
In 1958 the church opened a grammar school which educated children from first through eighth grades which eventually closed in 1969.  Recently Father Mark Cavagnaro was installed as the Pastor of St. Brendan the Navigator Parish and preaches and offers Mass at the historical St. Paul's Catholic Church in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.  As I walked around the beautiful church today I loved the uniqueness that it offered.  There wasn't a soul in the church but myself, yet I felt as if someone was watching over me as I snapped a few photos to share.  I was especially moved by the drapped photo of Mother Teressa of Calcutta who was recently Caononized.  Neat experience!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



The interior  of St. Paul's.
Portraiture of Mother Teressa of Calcutta on display near the altar.
Sculpture of Saint Paul which sits next to the church.  The plaque attached to it proclaims: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith and now the prize - Eternal Life."  2 Timothy 4:7
One of my favorite photos I took.  Features the Virgin Mary holding The Christ Child.


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