Parish History

Parish History

1891 -2011

“The Church of the Precious Blood stands as the center of the Monmouth Beach Community and its history reflects a wonderful spirit exhibited even to this day in the inhabitants of the community.” Fr. Bob Kaeding, Pastor

During the golden era of the North Jersey Shore when the Long Branch area was the summer home of seven US Presidents and the Patten Steamboat Line and the Central Railroad of New Jersey were established, Monmouth Beach became the summer home of affluent people.

There estates were large, and required staffing by 10 to 15 employees. In addition there were also two large hotels in the borough, the Monmouth Beach Club and the Green Inn, that entailed considerable staffing.

Many of these employees were Catholic, and there was no Catholic Church for them and their families in the Monmouth Beach.  This necessitated a trip to the Star of the Sea R. C. Church in Long Branch for Mass and devotions.  Subsequently, Monmouth Beach was made a Mission of Star of the Sea.

The employees longed for a church of their own, so each summer they joined with those few permanent residents of Monmouth Beach to raise  funds through card parties, raffles and dances.

The property for a church site was donated to Rev. James A. McFaul, pastor of Star of the Sea, by John Maney, whose property adjoined it on Wesley Street.

Construction began and with the laying of the corner-stone, the Most Rev. Michael J. O’Farrell, Bishop of Trenton, dedicated Precious Blood Church on June 21, 1891.  Along with the Church, a recreation hall was build on the property and was used during summer months for fund raising social events.

The church remained a mission of Star of the Sea until 1910, when Precious Blood Parish was established by the Most Rev. McFaul as Bishop of Trenton.  In his position as pastor of Star of the Sea, The Rev. McFaul accepted the church site as a gift from Mr. Maney.

In 1913 and 1914 Monmouth Beach suffered severe damage from coastal storms, and many summer homes were damaged or destroyed.  When Rev. William Tighe was transferred as church pastor to Atlantic Highlands, Precious Blood was ,made a mission of St. Dorothea’s. R. C. Church, Eatontown.  The congregation dwindled, and since central heating was too costly to install, the church was closed for the winter.

Over the next decade the congregation grew in size again, and in the early 1930′s central heating was installed and the church opened year round.

Finally in 1946, the Most Rev. William A. Griffin reestablished Precious Blood Parish and assigned the Rev. Francis J. Dwyer as pastor. The church was to remain open year round to this day.

The Rev. Dwyer established the Burns Cottage at Riverdale and Griffin Street as his Rectory.

In 1952 Rev. Walter H. Green became pastor.  He had the rectory built and purchased the property in the rear of the church from Mrs. Beatrice Ennis for future needs.

In the 1950′s the Port-au-Peck area of Oceanport and the northeast section of Long Branch were added to the growing parish.

About this time the Diocese had a pilot program of asking parishes without schools to establish a center for religious instruction.  Pastor Msgr. Maurice P.  Griffin had received permission to use the Borough Hall and public school for religious instruction as an interim measure, but ultimately agreement was reached with the Diocese on construction of a Catechetical Center.

In the midst of fund raising efforts, Rev. Griffin was transferred to another parish.  When the Rev. Earl A. Gannon became pastor in the mid-1960′s he established a system of pledges and initiated regular Bingo games to raise funds.  With the revenue generated, he was able to pay off the Center’s mortgage within a few years.

On Sunday, November 5, 1961, the Center was dedicated by Bishop Ahr as the first of its kind in the Diocese of Trenton.

It was during the tenure of Father Gannon’s successor, the Rev. Ronald Becker, that an interesting development occurred.  The Rev. Robert Pearson, who had been associated with the St. James Episcopal Church in Long Branch, decided to convert to Catholicism.  Father Becker continued the religious instruction that Father Gannon had begun, and in 1989 Father Pearson was granted authorization to begin saying Masses in the Church.  He was reportedly one of only six to eight Episcopalian ministers who have converted to the Catholic faith.

The Rev. Kielb was appointed administrator of the parish on July 8, 1989, and became pastor on September 1, 1989. Fr. John served as pastor for twenty-one years.

In September, 2010, Bishop John M. Smith appointed Rev. Robert F. Kaeding as Parochial Vicar of the parish to assist Fr. John Kielb whose health was failing. In March, 2011, Bishop David O’Connell appointed Fr. Bob to be Pastor of The Church of The Precious Blood. He was installed formerly as pastor on July 16, 2011. As of July 1, 2011, a Parish Ministry Team was formed consisting of Fr. John J. Testa as Parochial Vicar, Mrs. Eileen Lang as Director of Religious Education, Mrs. Maire L. Merritt as Pastoral Associate with a focus on Parish Ministries and Nicola Merlucci as Director of Music Ministry.

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