Parish History

This story is excerpted from St. Monica's 50-year anniversary church directory.

In November, 1952, Fr. Francis J. Coan of the Church of the Assumption in New Egypt, visited the Catholic families in the area to discuss the religious needs of the children and the possibility of establishing a church in Cassville. Through his efforts, the Cassville fire house was rented for the children once a week by Trenton-based nuns. The Eucharist was first offered on November 2, 1952, in the Cassville fire house.

In July, 1953, the Cassville area was incorporated and named St. Monica's Parish. Masses were celebrated in the fire house until April 28, 1957. A tract of land was donated to St. Monica's by C. Leslie Mason for the construction of a church. The plan to build an Assumption mission faded when attendance at the fire-house masses stagnated.

Around the same time, the area saw an influx of Hispanics and the Claretian leaders from Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Perth Amboy established a mission. Masses were held in a chicken coop on the property that is now 618 West Veteran's Highway. During the winter months, the church was heated by a wood-fired potbelly stove.

In 1958, the Claretians acquired land and built a church on Route 528 for the Spanish-speaking Catholic population that lived and worked on Jackson-area farms. The plans for St. Monica, along with the funds raised, were instead dedicated to a mission named St. Anthony Claret. The land which had been donated for the Church of St. Monica was returned to its donor.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Hispanic population in the area dwindled and St. Anthony Claret was built in Lakewood. During this time, collection monies were taken from Cassville and used to build and maintain the Lakewood church. In May of 1977, the Diocese of Trenton raised our church to parish status, though Claretian fathers in Lakewood continued to minister to us.

By 1990 there were few Spanish-speaking parishioners left in Jackson, and in July of that year St. Anthony Claret Church gave up its Jackson mission. In October, the church became a mission of Church of the Assumption in New Egypt. In June, 1991, the original name of our church was restored, and the Church of St. Monica was dedicated in August by Bishop Reiss. In October, 2001, the diocese ended St. Monica's status as a mission parish, making it a stand-alone parish within the diocese.