Ninety Years of Unending Grace
THE HISTORY OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH
Located in the mountainous northwest corner of New Jersey’s Bergen County, Immaculate Conception is the most rural of all the parishes in the Newark Archdiocese.
May 1, 1928 was a notable event in the history of the Diocese of Newark. It marked the day of the accession of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Walsh, D.D., J.U.D. as Bishop of the Diocese of Newark. Shortly thereafter, on the occasion of his first visit to the Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception at Darlington, he made a survey of conditions in the Ramapo Valley. He wished the priests there to take care of the Catholic people in the area, and to this end he created the new parish.
NOVEMBER 1928: Immaculate Conception Church was established
In November of that year, our Most Reverend Bishop established the new parish of the Immaculate Conception, comprising the territorial limits of the Township of Hohokus. During this time, the Great Depression was dawning. The bishop made the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas H. McLaughlin, S.T.D., rector of the Diocesan Seminary, the first pastor and naming Reverend Charles Demjanovich as Administrator, who was residence at Darlington Seminary and served as procurator.
This parish was created by dividing the parish originally under the zealous care of Father Pindar of Waldwick. The new parish was placed under the charge of the priests attached to the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, located at Darlington since 1926. The instructions of the Bishop to the priests at the Seminary were that they should take care of the Catholic people of the Township, and any such others as would seek spiritual service at their hands.
DECEMBER 1928: The First Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish
Immediately, in order to make a start, a building formerly used as a carpenter shop on the Seminary estate was adapted for a church and school. Divine services were held there for the first time in December, 1928.
ST. THOMAS HOUSE: The first worship place
Since the new parish has no building of her own, the founding parishioners, including the members of McDarby, Orthman, Popum, Wagfenhoffer, Dooley, Hade, DeMaye, Cogan and D’Arcy families rented a carpentry shop, the St. Thomas House on the seminary property in which they held their church services. This building can still be seen on the grounds of the county’s Ramapo Reservation, where it serves as the park office and ranger residence.
FEBRUARY 1929: The Opening of the Immaculate Conception School
The school was started in February, 1929, with seventeen pupils. Sister Alice Teresa of the sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth from Convent Station was in charge of the new school. St. Thomas House also served as first classrooms of the new school. Towards the summer of that year, it was found necessary to take down a partition in the building and turn the entire building into a church.
DECEMBER 22, 1930: The Incorporation of the Immaculate Conception Church
A point to be borne in mind is the fact that the Immaculate Conception Church of Darlington is entirely distinct from the Immaculate Conception Seminary of Darlington. The Seminary is conducted by the corporation known as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Newark, whereas the parish is a separate corporation, in every way, the corporate title of which is “Immaculate Conception Church, Darlington, New Jersey.”
The certificate of incorporation was filed at the Court House at Hackensack on January 2, 1931. The only point of contact is in the fact that the priests at the Seminary are the ones to whom the parish has been entrusted, since the parish is too small as yet to support a priest and the school, while the buildings in use up to the present are on Seminary property, belong to the Seminary, are only rented by the parish.
On December 22, 1930, the Certificate of Incorporation was granted to the Immaculate Conception Church by Bergen County, New Jersey.
NEW CHURCH AND SCHOOL
The attendance at the church has necessitated increased facilities for the hearing of Mass on Sundays. In the beginning, one Mass at eight o’clock was sufficient for the parish needs. In September, 1930, an additional Mass at 6:45 was found necessary, while in May, 1931, a third Mass at 10:30 was deemed imperative in order to provide an opportunity for all to fulfill their obligation on Sundays. The parish is regularly established and has all the functions and devotions that are to be had in any of the larger city parishes of the diocese.
Permission for the erection of the new church and school was given by the Most Rev. Thomas J. Walsh, D.D., J.U.D., Bishop of Newark, last February. Messrs. Fanning & Shaw, of 49 Ward Street, Paterson, specialists in school and church construction, were engaged to draw plans and specifications for the new building.
A special meeting of the parishioners was held in March in the present parish hall at which meeting the proposed plans were submitted. All present were enthusiastic about the new building, the need for which was apparent. Mr. Guy H. Popham, Sr., representing the trustees of the Church, pledged his support, and the support of the entire parish for the project. Mr. John Wagenhoffer, chairman of the Committee on Social Activity, spoke in the name of the members of the Holy Name Society, while Mrs. Michael J. McDarby and Miss Marguerite Hade voiced the enthusiastic sentiments of the Rosary-Altar Society and the Me-We Club, respectively.