St. Mary's (German) Roman Catholic Church

Newark Abbey Church

528 Martin Luther King Boulevard 07102
Phone: (973) 792-5793, Fax: (973) 643-6922

1841 - Present


1854 Riot


Newspaper Articles

September 21, 1854 - The Newark Riot - Death of Michael McDermott
May 10, 1903 - Catholics Warned
December 10, 1905 - Only Gregorian Music in St. Mary's R. C. Church
September 22, 1907 - Newark Church Fifty Years Old
December 10, 1916 - Father and Six Sons Built Scaffold on Church Tower

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1841. Work on the church at Grand and Court Streets began in 1841 with the first mass being celebrated on January 31, 1842. On September 5, 1854 the church was ransacked by marchers of the American Protestant Association Lodge of New Jersey during a parade, destroying its organ, chairs and doors. An Irish onlooker was killed by gunshots during the fight. In 1857 the church building was put on rollers and moved to the site on High Street. It was dedicated on December 20, 1857. The parish school was founded in 1863. On December 19, 1884 the church was raised to an abbey.

From: Rider's Newark 1916

The interior is highly decorated with mural paintings and memorial windows

Over the altar are figures of the Virgin Mary, St. Boniface and St. Benedict; below are the four evangelists. The nave is supported upon rows of arches, resting on massive pillars. Above these arches are paintings of the principal scenes in the life of the Saviour. Above the arch of the sanctuary is The Coronation of the Virgin. Above a side altar at the northeast corner, is preserved under glass the mutilated gilded figure of the Blessed Virgin, which together with the earlier St. Mary's Church on this same site was destroyed by a band of rioting Orangemen from New York, September 5, 1854.

From: The Benedictines in Newark 1842 - 1992

The great influx of immigrants did not sit well with everyone.  There was slowly developing a movement of resentment against these newly arrived Irish and German Catholics on the part of the Protestants who made up the majority of the population at this time.  Political movements arose that fed on this xenophobia.  There had been quite a bit of violence against Catholic churches throughout the East, and Newark was no exception.

In 1854, Saint Mary's Church was attacked and nearly destroyed when a group from the Newark Lodge of Orangemen, who were affiliated with the American Protestant Association, decided to have a parade.  They had connections with the Know-Nothing Party, a group of Nativists who resented the recent influx of immigrants.  On the morning of September fifth Orangemen from as far away as New York City, Paterson, and Brooklyn joi9ned forces with their Newark counterparts and began their parade.  Then, after breaking for lunch, they regrouped about half past three to continue the march.  They left Broad Street and headed up William STreet.  Tradition suggests that their ultimate object was Saint Patrick's on Washington Street, which had been designated the cathedral of the new Diocese of Newark less than a year before.  They never made it there.  On the way, they passed Saint Mary's.  Whether it was premeditated or merely a result of the passions of the moment, the marchers attacked the little church.

The pastor's study was in a room behind the altar.  Upon hearing the commotion, Father Charles entered the church to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament.  The priests then went out the back to escape the marauders.  Only the housekeeper, a widow whose grandson, James Zilliox, would later become the first Abbot of Saint Mary's Abbey, was left in the rooms when the crowd broke in.

In the meantime, people from the neighborhood answered the alarm that had been sounded, and the rioters left without achieving their goal of burring the church to the ground.  But they left their mark.  The New York Times of September seventh described the destruction: "The fences ar torn down, the windows and doors shattered, the shrubs about the door crushed and broken, and, in the interior, the altar overturned, the sacred utensils and sacerdotal robes strewed around and trampled upon, the organ broken to pieces.  The images, consisting of a costly Munich figure of the Madonna, and crucifix corresponding, together with the pictures, altar piece, and a splendid holy water font were also destroyed"


Reverends Addresses LDS FHC
Microfilm #'s


Reverend From To
Nicholas Balleis 1841 1855
Martin Hasslinger 1855 1855
Valentine Felder 1856 1857
Rupert Seidenbusch 1857 1857
Oswald Moosmuller 1867 1871
Romanus Hill 1868 1871
P. Leonard Mayer 1871 May 18, 1875 (Death)
P. Bernard Manzer 1875 June 17, 1882 (Death)
Gerard Pilz 1882 1885
James Zilliox February 11, 1885 October, 1886
Hilary Pfraengie November 16, 1886 1909
Ernest Helmstetter 1910 1929
Ernest Helmstetter (St. Mary's Abbey) 1930 1941
Frederick Zwinger 1928 1929
Leo Bieier 1931/32 1938
Celestine E. Staab 1939 1943/51
Gregory Schramm 1951/57 after 1957
Bruno Reiss 1870 1872
Bernardine Dolwick 1870 1874
William Walter 1870 1874
Mellitus Tritz 1873 1877
L. Kettner 1874 1877
Alphonse Heimler 1875 1877
Cortrinian Gastbihl 1877 1881
William Walter 1882 1883
Cornelius Eckl 1887 1889
Polycarp Scherer 1890 1894
Polycarp Scherer 1897 1920/21
Alexander 1897 1903
Maurus 1897 1903
Benedict Flum 1904 1908
Benedict Flum 1914 1917
William Koelhoffer 1910 1910
Roman Kirschner 1911 1911
Robert Baumgartner 1912 1913
Norbert Hink 1918 1918/19

Address From To
Grand Street c. Court Street 1842 December 20, 1857
261 High Street December 20, 1857 1869
526, 528, 532 High Street (number change from above) 1870 after 1957

LDS FHC Microfilm #'s

Information Starting Year Ending Year LDS Microfilm #
Baptism, Marriage, Death  1842  1857  1398595 
Baptisms 1858 1908 1398595 
Marriages 1858 1927 1398595 
Marriages 1927 1939 1398596
Deaths 1858 1937 1398596
Confirmations/Communions 1858 1944 1398596
Baptisms (Ivy Hill) 1908 1928 1398596

Archive Information (Last Known location)

Newark Abbey Archives