In 1968, the Archdiocese of Newark
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.
William T. Morris joined us and caringly ministered with us until 1997,
he was reassigned. Msgr. Meaney led us in worship until he
January 1990 and was succeeded by Msgr. James A. Burke.
Msgr. Burke led the parish for more than a decade before retiring
2000 and was succeeded by our current Pastor, Msgr. William C.
We have benefited from their leadership and that of our parochial
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 1999
Rev. Lawrence Fama served from 1999 until 2007
Rev. Gerald Buonapane was with us from 2007 until 2008
Rev. Richard Corbett served in 2000
Rev. Donald E. McLaughlin was with us from 2001 until 2008
Rev. Msgr. James Buffard has been with us since September 2008
Rev. Taduez Pieniazek has been with us since February 2009
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 elementary Director of Religious Education from 1975-1980.
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 2000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Bro.
Lavigne, F.M.S., a Marist Brother, became the director of the program
1974. In 1980, Kathy Dulan joined our staff as the elementary
director. With Bro. Bill's departure in 1994, Sr. Joanna Kerwin,
now coordinates the Adult Enrichment Programs, RCIA and Baptisms.
From 1997 until 2005, Linda Attanasio ran the Junior High Religious
Education and the Confirmation Programs. In 2005, Cathy Ochs took
these programs over.
In 1978, our parish, in conjunction with Holy Trinity Church, inaugurated a youth ministry program. Because of the rapid growth and interest among our teens, St. Helen's instituted its own youth ministry program, which has been directed by a series of capable youth ministers including Patti Gardner, our current Youth Minister. Confirmation preparation, retreats, peer ministry, service and theatrical events have been significant factors in the evolution of a vital youth community. In 2007, St. Helen's started a Junior High School Youth Ministry Program, which has been run by Danny Petersen serving as its Junior High Youth Minister since its inception.
While St. 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 project was started in 1985. This project, staffed by Liz Migneco and Michael McMahon, provides a family, couple or individual with ways of coping positively with important life situations.
A steering committee met in 1971 to formulate policy on laity involvement and, as a result, a Parish Council was organized in 1974. It was restructured in 1988 to a Pastoral Council format and consists of representatives of ministries: Worship, Celebration, Word/Spiritual Life, Service/Social Concerns, Stewardship and Leadership.
This is only the beginning of St. Helen's story and it is changing every day as our community writes new chapters. We invite you to join us.
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