Recollections and Reflections of St. Mary's by Some Long Time Parishioners

Mel Peters

I became a parishioner in St. Mary’s Church in 1942. My grandfather and Mr. Jablonski were the first two ushers at that time. I, too, in time would become an usher and was the ‘head usher’ at St. Mary’s in Barnegat for a time. Parishioners came from Forked River, Manahawkin, and Tuckerton. Mr. Jablonski was a descendant of one of the three original families who attended the first Mass celebrated in Barnegat back in 1907.

There was only one Mass on Sunday at 8:00 AM until either 1953 or 1954 when it was changed to 8:30 AM and a second Mass was added at 10:30 AM. There was a change at this time from Latin to English and of turning the Altar around to face the congregation as well. Good move! More surprising was when we could receive communion in our hands. Now we have Extra Ordinary ministers distributing communion.

We also had Deacons assisting at Mass. Our first Deacon was Vincent Pecora, and then Deacon Earl Lombardo, and Deacon Jim Heller.

St. Mary’s building was moved to Memorial Drive in 1987 to make room for the present church in Barnegat.

Mel Peters

Skip Martin

Father Janos had just replaced Father Charles Przechachi and one of his first editions was to add another Mass. He spaced out the two Masses and created the 9:00 AM Mass at the original, wooden, church in Barnegat.

Father Janos was our CCD teacher in the rectory basement and had us reading from the Bible. After class one day, he called me aside and said, “I have a job for you!” Father Janos wanted me to be a reader. I was a junior in high school at Southern and have been a reader ever since. In 1976 Father asked if I would move to the Parish Center in Manahawkin and be a reader there. I had moved to Manahawkin after college, and I’ve been there ever since until St. Mary’s of the Pines opened.

I grew up in Barnegat and received my Sacraments, including Marriage and my son’s Baptism in the little, white, church on West Bay Ave. I have many, many fond memories growing up in St. Mary’s. I love our area, our church, and all the people of our community.

Skip Martin

(Skip Martin is celebrating his 50th year as a reader at St. Mary’s.)

Richard Porsch

My reflections of St. Mary’s starts on March 17, 1973 when I took residence at 24 Georgetown Blvd, Independence Place, in Barnegat. Father Frank J C Janos was Pastor of St. Mary's and he was here for the building boom in Southern Ocean County which was Waretown, Barnegat, and a bit of Manahawkin. That would expand greatly into the future thanks to Ocean Acres.

St. Mary's was the little church that was eventually moved to Memorial Drive. The Rectory which was to the east of the little church, and on the opposite side of Bay Ave, was sold to build the newer Church we have today along with the Rectory and Offices.

With the expansion came the building of the Parish Center / Church on the corner of Routes 9 and 72 eastbound. Shortly after the Parish Center / Church were built additions of classrooms for CCD and the start of All Saints School were added in the form of modular or portable buildings. After they were built, St. Mary’s of the Pines in 2004 and the new Parish Center in 2009 at the rear of the Pines were added. The old Parish Center was sold to the County and is still utilized today.

Both Parish Centers hosted: Bingo, the staple of Catholic fund raising, and the home of ‘Ken's Kitchen’ which provides meals to the needy of the area. The Parish Centers also became home of our annual carnival which continues to thrive with help of the Parish volunteers from the surrounding communities. Before recycling was instituted on a township basis, there was a newspaper collection trailer at the old Parish Center. We did okay to say the least.

The growth of the Parish and the many programs it sponsors and runs is a real tribute the Parishioners who are the core of any successes we've attained. Think about it: The Parish runs ‘Ken's Kitchen’, Bingo, Scouting (Girls & Boy's), medical and church transportation assistance, the Food Pantry, and the Cemetery Mausoleum.

Before Fr. Janos died, he requested that Earl Lombardo, Gerry Karol, Bill Brennan, and I, Richie Porsch, reestablish the Holy Name Society. The Altar Rosary Society had continued upon its own. When Fr. McCarron became Pastor, he combined the two groups into the Adult Group which flourishes today.

The best way I can give to emphasize the summation of the excellent success of St. Mary's is for you to read the weekly Parish Bulletin. As you read it, you will find many opportunities or ministries to participate and lend your own expertise with those activities. The Parish’s success is due in large part, if not all. from the multitude of parishioners who volunteer. The names and phone numbers are there for each of the ministries, and we know those extra pairs of hands make the workload lighter. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your Parish can do for you, but what you can do for your Parish!”

May God Bless us All!

Richie Porsch