Cardinal Tobin leads 150th anniversary service at St. Joseph Church in Hoboken


Cardinal Joseph Tobin led the 150th anniversary service at St. Joseph Church in Hoboken earlier this month, which coincided with the feast of St. Joseph.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin greeted members of St. Joseph Church in Hoboken after mass on March 19th. Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Newark.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Tobin emphasized the importance of loving one’s parish during his homily, pointing out that the relationship between a congregation and an older church is like a long-married couple who works hard to strengthen their bond far beyond their initial honeymoon phase.

Afterwards, he spent time greeting parishioners as they left the church.

“The day couldn’t be more perfect. The cardinal was just wonderful — he was so gracious and kind and patient. And the Mass was beautiful. We were so happy to have him celebrate our anniversary with us,” said Father Alexander M. Santora, pastor of St. Joseph Church.

St. Joseph’s 150th anniversary was actually in March 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented any large-scale celebrations from taking place.

Instead, the parish paid tribute to the milestone by undergoing a major renovation of its church building over the past year.

This restoration involved repointing the exterior, plastering and painting the interior, re-staining and cleaning various surfaces, and re-carpeting the sanctuary. Additionally, new lighting, a new floor, and a new sound system were installed.

Beyond that project, St. Joseph Church commemorated its anniversary year by holding weekly adorations and observing Feast Days, including a Mass for the 2021 Feast of St. Joseph celebrated by Hudson County Auxiliary Bishop Gregory J. Studerus.

Pastoral Associate Andy Fellows also launched an outreach campaign to attract new parishioners from the apartment complexes recently constructed in nearby Jersey City.

Additionally, Father Philip J. Micele Jr., the parish’s parochial vicar, regularly engaged St. Joseph’s large Hispanic population by celebrating Feast Days and monthly Divino Nino Masses in Spanish.

“A lot of churches have closed, but St. Joseph’s has lasted for 150 years. God has always provided, so that’s something we have to give thanks for. And by celebrating this big milestone, hopefully more people will learn about us and join us,” added Micele.

“St. Joseph’s is a very welcoming place. Everyone knows everybody. People really care about each other. So you can come and feel at home right away.”

St. Joseph Church opened in 1871 to serve the German population that dominated Hoboken at the time.

The parish has evolved significantly since then, becoming a self-identified “Italian church” for much of the 20th century while welcoming an influx of Puerto Rican immigrants during the 1950s.

Today, St. Joseph’s — which operates in conjunction with Hoboken’s Our Lady of Grace Church following their 2008 merger — serves large numbers of English and Spanish speakers, with anyone welcome to join.

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