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​                                                                    FROM THE HOLMDEL HISTORICAL SOCIETY FAMILY!

The Beginning

Thomas Meehan donated the one-quarter acre plot on Stilwell Road.  An Irish immigrant, Father Michael L. Glennon, began building this church in February of 1879.  Nine months later, Bishop Corrigan dedicated the church.  In 1879 it was the only church, of any kind, in the Morrisville section of Holmdel.  It was the first Catholic Church in Holmdel and it was the first Catholic Church in New Jersey dedicated to Saint Catharine of Genoa .  

The Church has a slate roof and the exterior walls are of batten board construction.  Inside, pews seated about 100 parishoners.  The choir loft accomodated an organ and a dozen choir members.  Two wood buring stoves heated the building.

Father Glennon  

It was in the town of Crohan, one of the loveliest parts of
County Cavan,  Ireland, that on September 2, 1852, the home of James and Rose Glennon was brightened by the arrival of their sixth and last child. They named their son Michael, in honor of the great archangel of his birth month. 

Michael Glennon arrived in New York on May 20, 1870.  His elder brother preceded him, so he was not entirely alone when he first set foot in America.  He entered the Seminary of Holy Angels in Niagara Falls and two years later entered the seminary at Seton Hall in Orange, New Jersey.
Reverend Michael L. Glennon was ordained a priest on May 27, 1877, and celebrated his first Mass at St. Joseph's Church in Newark. 

While studying at Seton Hall, Father Glennon met Monsignor Corrigan. Corrigan took a great interest in Glennon, whom he described as having exceptional intellectual gifts, with an appearance and manners that were captivating enough to disarm the most adverse critic.  With Corrigan's approval in 1878, Father Glennon authored "A Simple, Orderly, and Comprehensive Catechism of the Christian Religion," printed by the American News Company. Monsignor Corrigan gave Glennon his first assignments, as that of curate for Reverend Patrick E. Smyth of St. Bridget's Church in Jersey City.  His second assignment was to establish a mission and build a church at Morrisville. 

​Father Glennon moved to Red Bank and boarded with Father Michael E. Kane at St. James Parish.  Reverend Kane helped raise most of the $1600 funds needed to build the church in Holmdel.  When Reverend Glennon took charge of St. Catharine's, it was almost devoid of any debt.  Bishop Corrigan considered Glennon's work in Morrisville a phenomenal success.  In February 1880, Corrigan appointed Father Glennon as the first rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Asbury Park but did not relieve him of his duties at St. Catharine's. Every Sunday,  Father Glennon would say mass in Asbury Park, then, rain or shine, snow or ice, would ride his black stallion named Sabbath, to St. Catharine's in Holmdel to offer mass in this church.  Father Glennon died of malaria in 1900. 

Donations Appreciated


Bishop Michael Augustine Corrigan of Newark dedicated St. Catharine's Church at Morrisville on November 25, 1879. Michael Corrigan was born in Newark, New Jersey, on August 13, 1839.  Cardinal Patrizzi ordained him to holy priesthood on September 19, 1863, in the Cathedral Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy. 

The ceremony to dedicate St. Catharine's Church began 11:00 am with
Reverend John J. O'Connor of Highlands
as master of ceremonies.  A solemn high mass was offered with Reverend Patrick E. Smyth of Jersey City as celebrant.  Bishop Corrigan delivered the sermon.  Mrs. Ashurst assisted the choir from Jersey City in singing Mozart's Twelfth Mass. 

Silver Jubilee - 1904

The celebration of the 25th anniversary of the dedication of St. Catharine's Church in Holmdel took place Friday, November 25, 1904, at 10:30 am. Reverend John A. Lawrence, pastor of the church, celebrated a solemn high mass. Father John A. Norris of Trenton, secretary of Bishop McFaul, gave the
sermon. Father Edward J. Egan of Sea Bright was master of ceremonies and Father Healy of Lakewood was deacon. Reverend James A. Reynolds of Red Bank was sub-deacon. About 400 people attended. The choir from the St. James Church of Red Bank supplied the music. 

Golden Jubilee - 1929

More than 20 priests gathered to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the dedication of St. Catharine's Church on Tuesday, November 26, 1929.  Rector Francis J. Sullivan celebrated a solemn high mass. Monsignor Peter J. Petri of Atlantic City delivered the sermon. Reverend Thomas H. Reilly of Spring Lake was master of ceremonies. Father Reilly was also Chancellor of the Trenton Diocese. Sister Mary Beatrice directed a choir from Georgian Court College in Lakewood. Sister Miriam, college teacher, rendered the solo parts. The altar was decorated with large golden yellow and white chrysanthemums. The officiating priests wore special golden vestments. 

After the Mass, the choir gave a concert at the convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Wickatunk, where a dinner was served for the visiting priests. Members of the Blessed Sacrament Guild of St. Catharine's Church helped the sisters prepare and serve the meal of grapefruit, bouillon, roast turkey with dressing and gravy, potatoes, peas, celery, radishes, olives, pickles, ice cream, cake, lemon pie, coffee, cheese and crackers. Father Walter T. Leahy of Deal prepared a booklet on the history of the church and a list of names of those who donated toward the cost of 19
29 renovation of the church.

St. Catharine's Church - 1975 

In May of 1975, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Trenton, New Jersey, donated the St. Catharine Church property in the Everett section of Holmdel to the Holmdel Historical Society for one dollar. Located at 84 Stilwell Road, it is the official headquarters and museum of the Holmdel Historical Society. 

Saint Catharine of Genoa

Caterina Fieschi Adorno was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1447, to parents Jacopo Fieschi and Francesca di Negro. Her father, Jacobo, was Viceroy of Naples. At the age of 13, Caterina asked to join the convent but was refused because of her age. Honoring her parents wishes, she married Giuliano Adorno, nobleman of Genoa, at the age of sixteen.

The marriage failed. Ten years later she was in confession when a ray of Divine light pierced her soul. In one moment it manifested her own sinfulness and the Love of God with equal clearness. The revelation was so overwhelming that she lost consciousness and fell into a kind of ecstasy. She gave herself to the care of the sick at the Hospital of Genoa until she died in 1510.

She wrote, "Dialogues of the Soul and Body," and "Treatise on Purgatory." Her writings have been examined by the Holy Office and pronounced to contain doctrine that proved her sanctity. She was beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X and canonized in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. 
About St. Catharine's Building
The Structure

The building measures 25'x75'. It has a slate roof and the exterior walls are of batten board construction. Inside, pews seated about 100 parishoners. The choir loft accommodated an organ and a dozen choir members. Two wood burning stoves heated the building.

Original windows were clear glass.  The stained glass windows were added about 1914.  The entrance foyer has two, small, clear glass windows. The front wall has three stained glass windows. The round one at the top is not visible from the inside. The stained glass in the two narrow matching windows, one on each side of the front door, measure 18" x 68". They have hinges on the inside that allow them to swing open. Ten more stained glass windows, five on each side of the long walls, measure 30" x 80". These ten windows have a unique way of opening, by sliding up about two feet into the wall pocket directly above.  There are a total of 13 stained glass windows. 

The interior walls are beadboard horizontal slats covered with 4x8' sheets of masonite or sheetrock. The ceiling is also beadboard, with 3 large ornamental stars, and in the center of each star is a large metal hook, which probably held 3 large gas chandeliers. 

The Altar

 The altar table is 96" in length, 44" in width and 39.5" in heigth.  In the front of the alter it has a locking door.  There is gold paint underneath the current topcoat.  The hand carved structure is wood, probably oak.  


Elizabeth C. O'Reilly (or Reilly or Riley), born in December 1842 of Jersey City,  New Jersey donated the hand carved altar to St. Catharine's Church.  Her husband, Patrick Farrelly (1841-1904) was born in parish Castlerahan, County Cavan, Ireland, and was the president of the American News Company of Chambers Street in New York City.  Patrick was a prominent layman in the Catholic Diocese of Newark. 

Mr. and Mrs. Farrelly donated windows, lamps, bells, and other church furnishings to several new churches in New Jersey. Pope Leo honored them for their services to the church. Mrs. Farrelly donated the altar in honor of her patroness.  

Bishop Michael Augustine Corrigan of Newark dedicated St. Catharine's Church at Morrisville on November 25, 1879.  In 1879, it was the only church of any kind in the Morrisville section of Holmdel.  It was the first Catholic Church in Holmdel and it was the first Catholic Church in New Jersey dedicated to Saint Catharine of Genoa.


Look what was found under the damaged sheetrock at the Church!  Beautiful beaded wood board! 

This has to be restored!   It is unbelievable how a priest can build this church for $1,600 in 1879, ride his black stallion, named Sabath from Asbury Park (22 miles each way),  to say mass every Sunday and in 2017 this Church is still standing.  Although a lot of work is needed, this Church is one to restore, treasure and appreciate!

Picture taken February 3, 2017

The Process
The Holmdel Historical Society needs funds to save the integrity of this historical church!  Look at the before and after!  Still a lot of work to be done!
HHS has faith and we need you to also!!
 October 2016
 February 2017
The Process
The Holmdel Historical Society begins the process of sandblasting the old paint off the Church.  Again, look what was revealed below the paint!
Help Restore the Church Donate Today!
 September 26, 2017
Weather was 80 degrees and sunny!

 September 26, 2017

Help Restore the Church - Donate Today!

Photo Taken March 5, 2018

The HHS is in need of a Structural Engineer to volunteer his work to design a foundation for the Church.

Please call Peter Maneri at 732.768.7583.  It would be greatly appreciated.
Email and Address Information