Pastors at St. Catherine of Siena
Rev. John J. Finnerty was assigned as Pastor in 1925.
Rev. Joseph A. Carroll, later Pastor of St. Cecilia’s R.C. Church in Kearney, served as administrator from 1955-1956.
Rev. Thomas F. Padian became Pastor in June 1956 and remained until he retired in May 1972..
Rev. Robert L. Daly was installed in June 1972.
Rev. John Madden retired in July 1995.
Rev. Richard A. Villanova, succeeded Father Madden, and remained as Pastor until February 1, 2006.
Rev. Aurelio Yañez Gomez, S.T.D. succeeded Father Villanova and remains as Pastor today.
The Church of St. Catherine of Siena stands on the corner of North Broad and King Street in Hillside, N.J,, just across from the city of Elizabeth boundary lines. This Roman Catholic Church was founded in May 1904. It was the largest church in the community for many years and the first to be built within the future township limits. Prior to its organization, residents journeyed to St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Elizabeth.
This busy intersection has been used by travelers for over three hundred years. The original inhabitants of the region were the Lenni-Lenape Indians. They used North Broad Street, then, just a trail through the woods, to travel from their hunting grounds in what later became known as West Newark to the sea, at the present city of Elizabeth.
The Dutch also used the trail for overland passage from their colonies in Manhattan and East Jersey to West Jersey between 1664 and 1666. During the Revolutionary War, the trail was known as the upper road to Newark.
A group of Catholic men met in the home of Albert C. Wingert, 909 Brad Street, Elizabeth, to remedy the very time consuming journey that many of the residents had to make to attend Mass at St. Mary’s. Clifton McKenzie, an architect, was hired to make plans for a small church. However, before the plans were completed, the new parish was offered a plot containing several buildings at North Broad Street and King Street, a block away.
John Pierson owned the present church property in 1775. It then came under the ownership of E.A. Baldwin during the Civil War and later by Colonel Snyder who built a mansion on the land. The Colonel Snyder property at North Broad Street and King Street was purchased in 1907. In July 1907, services were held on the lower floor of the Snyder home, which had been converted into a church. The Rev. Louis J. Bohl, Pastor, occupied the upper floor as a rectory. Rev. Henry Mahoney was later assigned assistant pastor and was the first priest to take the local catholic census.
It was then decided that a church should be located closer to the center of Elizabeth and another plot was purchased on Union Avenue, Elizabeth, for Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church and School which were built in 1910. The dwelling on North Broad Street was used as a Mission of the Immaculate Conception Church for the next two years.
It was at this time that Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, a resident of Liberty Avenue, Hillside, requested that a church adopt the name of “Catherine of Siena” as a memorial to his late wife, Catherine, who had died in 1910. Rev. James A. Lundy was named Pastor of the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena in 1912 and served until 1914. The earliest records of marriage and baptisms began in 1912. During Fr. Lundy’s time, the church was first known as “The Chapel of St. Joseph” and only became known as “St. Catherine of Siena” at the end of his term as Pastor. The Parish was returned to Immaculate Conception Church as a Mission from December 1914 to July 1917.
Upon his death, Mr. Fitzpatrick left his estate to the Parish for the erection of the church. It should be noted that Thomas and Fitzpatrick Streets in Hillside were named for Mr. Fitzpatrick. The construction of the present church edifice was delayed until the 1920’s due to World War I.
An inscription above the doors of the North Broad Street entrance attests to the fact that Mr. Fitzpatrick was the donor responsible for the construction of the Church.