Union City, New Jersey Historical Summary

From lower Manhattan, St. Michael’s Monastery and Church have long been a landmark on the New Jersey skyline. In 1861, at the invitation of Bishop James R. Bayley of Newark, Passionists began ministering in the diocese. By 1864 they built St. Michael’s Monastery in West Hoboken (“Union City” since 1925). Additions followed in 1914, 1929, and 1944. The domed church was built in 1875 and rebuilt after a 1934 fire. Numerous parishes in Hudson County were founded and staffed by the Passionists.

St. Michael’s Monastery served as provincial house, seminary, residence for priests and brothers, and as a center for novena devotions, serving Irish, German, Italian, and Spanish-speaking Catholics. Due to lack of finances and personnel, the entire complex was closed in 1981. After the ravages of a 1994 fire, the monastery structure was razed and replaced by moderate-income housing units, while the church became home to a community of Korean Presbyterians.

Passionists assumed care of nearby St. Joseph’s Parish in 1903. It became home to the famous Veronica’s Veil Passion Play. It was returned to the archdiocese in 1972. With the 1981 decision to close St. Michael’s Church, it was decided to combine the pastoral care of the parishioners of St. Michael’s and St. Joseph’s, which the Passionists accepted until 1997, when it was necessary to return this responsibility to the archdiocese.

The present St. Michael’s Residence, established in 1982, is located in the old “Sign Building,” built in 1925, and until 1982 the home of The Sign magazine, a Passionist-sponsored, national, Catholic monthly publication. The building is now home to the Passionist Missionaries, the Passionist Historical Archives, the Passionist Press, and the Provincial Finance and Development Offices.

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