St. Michael’s Monastery: The Early Days Part II

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(Continuation of Article from last edition of Newsletter excerpted from
Historical Sketch of St. Michael’s Monastery Parish 1862-1912)

Edited by Morgan P. Hanlon, C.P.

After the mission in St. Mary’s in 1860, the Passionist Fathers paid a visit to Bishop Bayley, who received them with paternal kindness and he was much pleased to hear a foundation spoken of in his Diocese. Accordingly he wrote to Rome asking of the Most Rev. Father Superior General to send some Passionists into his Diocese in order to commence a Monastery. We see from the sequel that Providence did not delay his good wishes, for on Christmas Day of that year – December 25th, 1860 – the steamer “Fulton” arrived in New York, with some Passionists on board. This was the second arrival of Passionists in America and these were Father Victor Carunchio and six Italian students known as Timothy Pacitti, Eusebius Satis, Vitalian Lilla, Nilus Mastoianni, Faustinus Sergente, Archangel Paganini, also Father Liberatus Bonelli and Brother Josephat. The most of these religious stayed one year at the mother house – St. Paul’s Monastery, Pittsburgh, Pa., and returned to West Hoboken in January, 1862. The Civil War broke out on April 12th, 1861. On Sunday, April 21, of the same year, the Passionists took charge of St. Mary’s, West Hoboken.

An article in the Freemen’s Journal of April 27th, 1861, thus describes the “Installation of the Passionist Fathers in the Church of Our Lady of Mercy at West Hoboken, N.J.”

“Last Sunday, 21st of April, Very Rev. John Domenic Tarlatini, Superior of the Passionist Fathers in America, was solemnly installed as the new Pastor of the Church of West Hoboken, N.J., by Rev. Father Cauvin, assisted by his assistant, Rev. Januarius De Concilio.” Fr. Cauvin “delivered up to the Very Rev. Father Tarlatini, who was accompanied by two of his religious priests and a brother – Rev. Vincent Nagle, Rev. John Baptist Baudinelli and Brother Lorenzo – the keys of the door of the church, the confessional and the tabernacle, and then divested himself of the Pastoral stole and placed it around the neck of the new pastor, transferring thus to him all jurisdiction and authority over the church, and its mission. He then addressed the crowded congregation amid the sighs and tears of the faithful exhorting them to receive the Missionary Fathers as the Galatians received St. Paul, with love and gratitude as angels of God, as Jesus Christ Himself. The Passionist Father, Rev. Vincent Nagle, preached the installation sermon, which was a very eloquent one, and proved highly satisfactory to all the congregation.”

The Passionist Fathers desired to make a Foundation of their order in that beautiful and solitary place. “St. Mary’s,” as it was generally called, was a frame building, 80 feet long by 30 feet wide. It was dedicated by Rt. Rev. John Hughes, D.D., Bishop of New York. Over the high altar was hung a picture of the “Rimini Madonna.” We must go back a little to speak of this picture. While the energetic and devoted Fr. Cauvin was building the Church of Our Lady of Mercy a pious layman was providing an altar piece in Rome. Signor Paci Ippoliti had caused a copy of the “Madonna della Misericordia” of Rimini to be made and begged Cardinal Bignole to send it to some American mission and West Hoboken received the picture. It gave to the church its title as could be seen above the great door where the inscription read thus:

“Mater Misericordiae”
“Mother of Grace, O Mary hear,
Mother of Mercy, lend thine ear,
From raging foes our souls defend,
And take us when our life shall end.”

The dedication of the church was a solemn one. The preacher was his Grace Archbishop Hughes of New York, attended by many clergy men and devout laity. The picture we speak of was unveiled and the choir sang the “Ave Maria” and the people fell upon their knees to join in the beautiful prayer. Signor Paci Ippoliti writes in August, 1853, and says that on the 30th of January, 1853, whilst he was about to make some experiments with gunpowder he thought of Our Lady of Mercy as venerated at West Hoboken and begged her special protection. He had a large quantity of gunpowder in a narrow room, when all of a sudden it exploded. The windows and doors were shattered to pieces, the whole house was shaken, but, he says, by the mercy of God and his Blessed Mother, he was uninjured. The same year in gratitude for his preservation he leaves a Foundation in perpetuum to the Church of Our Lady of Mercy.”

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