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A BRIEF HISTORY
of St. Aedan's Church

St. Aedan’s parish was born in the early 1900’s out of the Irish-American, Catholic community just south of Journal Square. Much of Jersey City’s growth from the 1850 to 1910 was driven by Irish immigrants, and many of them were drawn to Journal Square to work as conductors and operators of the trolleys that originated from there. Each week, around 300 of these Irish-Americans would gather in a small, rented room in a building on Montgomery St. to celebrate Mass. Recognizing this, the Bishop of Newark established St. Aedan’s Parish on June 23, 1912, and named it for St. Aedan (550-632) of County Wexford, Ireland, in honor of the Irish-American workers and their families.

Reverend Roger A. McGinley was named the first pastor of St. Aedan’s, a role he served in for 24 years. His first project was to build a parochial school, which opened in 1913, the first floor of which was used for Masses. In the 1920s, with the parish rapidly growing, a temporary 600-seat chapel adjoining the school was built. In 1929 ground was broken for a new, permanent church building — the one still in use today. St. Aedan’s Catholic Church was completed two years later, finally being dedicated on October 4, 1931 with 4,000 people in attendance.

The building of St. Aedan’s Catholic Church was designed by Edward A. Lehman, a New Jersey-born architect and Jersey City resident, and boasts several remarkable features: an enormous dome, massive walls and arches, a brick and sandstone exterior, a rose window and stained-glass windows along its walls, while inside there are elaborate mosaics of scenes and figures taken from scripture and Catholic tradition.

Until the 1970s, St. Aedan’s served a mostly Irish-American congregation. But over the years, as more Asian, Hispanic, Caribbean and African immigrants came to Jersey City, by the 1990s the congregation shifted to one with much more diverse ethnic and national origins: Filipino, Central and South American, Caribbean, Indian, African, Italian, Irish, and others. The parish continues to see and celebrate this dramatic diversity today.

From August 2011 to March 2024, St. Aedan's became the university church of Saint Peter's University, the Jesuit university of New Jersey, after discussions between the university and the Archdiocese of Newark. Priests from the Jersey City Jesuit Community took on administration of the church, serving the university while continuing to function as a parish church. Saint Peter's University returned St. Aedan's Church to the Archdiocese of Newark on April 1, 2024.  

Some content adapted from New Jersey City University's website, Jersey City: Past and Present. Carmela A. Karnoutsos, PhD, Professor Emeritus of History; Patrick Shaloub, MLS, Guarini Library. For a more detailed history of St. Aedan’s, click here.  

A brief history
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