The Honorable Anthony Giuliano, parish trustee; mounts a
ladder to mark the point reached in our church building fund drive.
Msgr. Dooling, Fathers Roberta Wells, Patrick Owens, and Vito Dell' Orto look pleased at the progress of the building fund.
Our old church-school as it was being demolished
to make way for the new church.
at that church) competed against St. James of Newark. Father also staged an outside Senior and Junior Minstrel with the talent he discovered in the parish. In December of the first year of 1914, with the completion of the work on the church, the spanking clean building was re-dedicated and blessed. Father Loponte quickly brought a Franciscan, Father George, to preach a Mission to his people. Almost all the men and the women in the parish attended the week-long spiritual exercises, and at its close there was no doubt that the parish was firmly founded. It immediately showed signs of a quickening spiritual growth.
Father Loponte had the help of two Irish priests in the early years; they were Father Franklyn and Father Fitzgerald. Father Franklyn appeared suddenly, worked with the spirit of a true missioner, but because he never became part of the diocesan clergy he departed just as suddenly to return to his native Ireland. Strange as it appears, Father Fitzgerald came to succeed him also unannounced and unexpected. He had been ministering to the Catholics ofImmaculate Conception Parish, Montclair, under the same circumstances in which Father Franklyn had worked in our parish. Indeed, it was Father Fitzgerald himself who brought Father Franklyn the news that he was to leave St. Francis Xavier. In due course Father Fitzgerald followed Father Franklyn back to their native land. Father Loponte thus was left to continue his work alone.
The year 1915 is remembered for the Irish Minstrel that was presented in the parish, the Fife and Drum Corps that was organized, and for the December Mission, which was preached by a Dominican priest. Father Loponte has been described by those early parishioners as "a man of wonderful personality, who was completely devoted to the Rosary of Our Lady." He was well liked by most of his parishioners, for he was a kindly man. His major aim was to build a school and a recreation center. He was often quoted as saying: "If I can have all the children round me I can be happy." The frequent card parties that he planned and directed attest more to his love of people and a desire to share their company than it does for his need of the money obtained from these social events.