History of Saint John the Baptist
On December 9, 1937, Pope Pius named the Church of St. John the Baptist as the Cathedral or "Seat of the Bishop" for the new Catholic Diocese of Paterson. Papal designation was the culmination of the dreams and sacrifices of many people.
- Father Richard Bulger, one of only eight priests in the New York diocese and northern New Jersey, was assigned to Paterson by Bishop John Connelly.
- The first church in the state to have a resident pastor
- Father Bulger built Saint John's church
- The property purchased from the Society for Useful Manufactures on the corner of Market and Mills Streets
- The Church ws named in honor of Bishop John Connelly, the Second Bishop of New York
- A new stone church was built by Father Patrick Duffy on a site donated by Roswell Colt on Oliver Street
- This second church formed part of the "Entre Nous" building and is still visible from the steps of the Cathedral
- Very Rev. William McNulty comes to Paterson from Madison
- Rev. McNulty was the thirteenth pastor and served for 59 years, (a record in New Jersey Church annals)
- Rev. McNulty served as vicar forane, or dean of Passaic and Bergen counties for many years, (he was commonly referred to as Dean rather than by his Christian name)
- Dean McNulty found a badly inadequate church in a rapidly expanding city
- Dean McNulty drew plans for the third and current church of Saint John. He did not want to build on the Oliver Street site - he envisioned a new church on the corner of "Main and Grand."
- He purchased sixteen lots for $410,000 and Bishop Bayley of Newark laid the cornerstone September 1, 1865.
June 29, 1870
- Patrick Charles Keely, was the Irish-American architect, and a prominent builder who also designed the Cathedrals of Boston and Chicago
- The Neo-Gothic design was enspired by the Gothic Revival during the Victorian Era
- The brownstone was quarried in Little Falls and brought to Paterson on the Morris Canal
- In the manner of medieval cathedrals, Saint John's was built primarily by "day's work" - volunteer labor by members of the parish
- Dedicated by Bishop Thomas Wood of Philadelphia, substituting for Bishop Bayley who was in Europe at Vatican I.
Completion of the Cathedral
In the first decade after its dedication, additional lots were purchased and the rectory was built. The temporary altar was replaced by a grandiose wooden altar and reredos, a gift of State Senator John Hinchcliffe
- The construction debt paid off
- A second campaign financed the finishing of the Chapel of Our Lady, the front minarets, the tower spire and the new organ
- When all was complete and all debts paid off, the church was consecrated by Bishop Winand Wigger of Newark, (a rare occurrence in the 19th Century)
Size and Cost of Church
- 88 feet across the front
- 180 feet deep
- Front minarets rise to a height of 120 feet
- The tower to 225 feet
- Stone columns - 60 feet high support the slate roof
- Total cost of construction estimated at $232,000, ( a frame church in Morris Plains in the same period was built for $900).
1987 - 1992 Renovations
- Interior total renovation which included relocating the alter towards the center of the nave and moving the organ from the choir loft to the rear of the sanctuary.
- Slate roof replacement
- New heating and airconditioning system was installed