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Our Story…

 


 

In 1968, the Archdiocese of Newark formed the Parish of Saint Helen with Rev. Thomas Meaney as the founding pastor.  Our origins were most modest. Daily mass was celebrated in a small, green, prefabricated "chapel" which also served as a multi-purpose building and "parish center". Sunday Masses were celebrated in Edison Intermediate School's auditorium until our church was completed in 1972. With the growth of the parish, an additional permanent priest was needed. Fr. Edward Malkiewicz was assigned for a short period of time, then Fr. Alan Guglielmo arrived as Parochial Vicar. After he was reassigned, Fr. William T. Morris joined us and caringly ministered with us until 1997, when he was reassigned.


 
Rev. Msgr. James Burke, 2nd Pastor

Msgr. Meaney led us in worship until he retired in January 1990 and was succeeded by Msgr. James A. Burke.  Msgr. Burke led the parish for more than a decade before retiring in 2000 and was suceeded by Msgr. William C. Harms, who retired in 2011. 

 


Father Michael A. Saporito joined our parish family in February of 2011.

 

We have benefited from their leadership and that of our parochial vicars. Rev. Robert W. Kunze lent his talents from 1989 to 1993, Rev. Peter Keenen O'Brien served from 1994 to 1998, Rev. Donald K. Hummel was with us from 1997 until 2000, Rev. John Paladino served in 1998. Rev. Larry Fama was with us from 1999 until 2007, Rev. Richard Corbett  in 2000, Rev. Donald E. McLaughlin from 2001 until 2008,  Rev. Gerald Buonopane for 2007-2008, Rev. James F. Bouffard from 2008 to 2012, and Rev. Tadeusz Pieniazek served our parish from 2009 to 2011. Rev. Frank Fano joined us from June 2011 to September 2016 and Rev. José Garzón served St. Helen's Parish from June 2012 to January 2014.  Rev. George Klybus was with St. Helen from January 2014 to November 2015. Fr. Gabriel Curtis joined us in June 2016.

 

Our parish originally consisted of six hundred families and over the years has flourished and grown to its current membership of 3500. To meet the needs of this  ever growing community, the Parish Center was constructed in 1984. The Center was expanded in 1988 and, on November 6 of that year, it was named The Msgr. Meaney Parish Center. At the same time, the gym was dedicated in memory of Sr. Patricia Daly, who was the Director of Elementary Religious Education from 1975-1980. The Msgr. James A. Burke Administration Building was built in winter/spring of 2010, opened in April 2010, and was dedicated on October 10, 2010.

 

With the physical growth of the parish came program growth as well. Our religious education ministry, organized in 1971, has grown from 400 to more than 1800 students in kindergarten through 10th grade. Bro. Dominic O’Brien joined us from 1972 – 1974 as CCD coordinator. Bro. Bill Lavigne, F.M.S., a Marist Brother, became the director of the program in 1974. In 1980, Kathy Dulan joined our staff as the elementary education director, which included responsibility for the Sacramental Programs of First Eucharist and Reconciliation, the Children’s Catecumenate Program and supervising the Children’s Liturgies which are celebrated on Sundays throughout the year. Kathy retired in June 2016.  With Bro. Bill's departure in 1994, Sr. Joanna Kerwin, G.N.S.H., coordinated the Adult Enrichment Programs, RCIA and Baptisms and Deacon Jack Lynch assumed those duties in 2003. In 1996, Linda Attanasio joined the staff as the Confirmation Coordinator. In July of 2002, Kevin Canessa, Jr., joined the staff as the Middle School Religious Education Coordinator. From 2003 to 2012, Cathy Ochs coordinated the Middle School and High School programs. In July 2012 Michael Fusco joined the parish staff as the Middle School and High School Religious Education Director.  Tricia McGlynn joined the parish staff as Director of Religious Education for Grades K to 5 and Kids Corner Coordinator in July 2016.

Our parish, in conjunction with Holy Trinity Church, inaugurated a youth ministry program in 1978. Because of the rapid growth and interest among our teens, Saint Helen's instituted its own youth ministry program, which has been directed by a series of capable youth ministers including Bob Bradley, Andy Prachar, Michael Burck, Steve Koppi, Cathy Ochs, Artie Flinn, Susan Oldroyd Laffler and Patti Gardner. Confirmation preparation, retreats, peer ministry, service and theatrical events have been significant factors in the evolution of a vital youth community. In the Fall of 2007 Danny Peterson began as our first Middle School Youth Minister and was succeeded from 2009 to 2012  by Matt Toriello.

 

While Saint Helen's provides many services for its parishioners, it has always invited them to give of themselves. With this goal in mind, the late Sr. Patricia Daly coordinated an outreach program, "Helping Hands and Hearts". In 1985, Marilyn Ryan became our Pastoral Associate and, in this capacity, took over the program. She has broadened its scope to reach more people with specific needs and to involve the helping concern of more parishioners.

As an extension of Christ's ministry of reconciliation and healing, a counseling service was started in 1985. This service, staffed by Liz Migneco, L.C.S.W., and Michael McMahon, L.C.S.W., provides a family, couple or individual with ways of coping positively with important life situations.