St. Patick's, Hibernia
Bishop Frank J. Rodimer
| There is an exit sign on
Route 80, central Morris County, that reads "Hibernia." It's as big
as life. People heading into and out of New York see it. most, we can be
sure, pass it by without much thought. Some may recognize the name as the
Latin word for Ireland. They might wonder how big the place is and how
it got it's name, but very few know it's history.
HIBERNIA is a part of Rockaway Township.
A 19th century map shows that it had two school districts and was surrounded
by places which have kept their names up to the present: Splitrock, Meriden,
Lionsville, Beach Glen, White Meadow, Denmark and Greenville (Green Pond).
What put Hibernia on the map were the iron mines which were worked as far
back as the mid 18th century. As a boy I spent part of my summers at my
grandmothers home in Hibernia, and I can remember people digging up some
of the old iron pieces that we were told were manufactured back in the
Revolutionary days. One of the kids in our group was Cannonball because
of an enviable discovery he made in a lot next to his home.
"THE NAME 'Hibernia' seems to pre-date
the Irish immigration." Father Kupke says, "since the 'Great Hibernia Tract'
is mentioned in deeds as early as the 1840's.
|THIS INSTRUCTION of Bishop
Bayley fit in with Father Castel's plan since he had just built a new stone
church in Boonton. He moved the original frame church in 1848 over
the hill to Hibernia. Even today that would be an extra-ordinary
accomplishment. The building was refashioned and I have a sketch
of it that was hand-drawn by my great-aunt and kept in my great-grandparents
Bishop Bayley bought another tract, also
less than an acrea, near but not touching on the church lot, in 1869 from
the New Jersey Iron Mining Company for $1. This is St. Patrick's
St. Patrick's Cemetery is still to be seen, it is a forlorn spot. It was still beautiful when I visited it with my grandmother when I was a boy. My great-grand- parents and some of their children are buried there as are relatives of many others who are still alive today. Vandels, however, have desecrated the place, knocking over every headstone and even opening some of the graves.
Still there is a reason to rejoice this year. This is the centennial of the establishment of St. Patrick's Parish in Hibernia. In 1881 Sishop Wigger, Bishop of Newark, just a few months after Trenton was split off from Newark and made a diocese of it's own, elevated St. Patrick's from the status of a mission of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to a parish, but under the same pastor, Father Alphonse Shaken.
|Strangely enough, 'no' pastor
ever lived in the Hibernia parish even though it had the status of a parish
for 47 years. Bishop Thomas Walsh, shortly after becoming Bishop
of Newark in 1928, suppressed the parish. St. Patrick's church building
had already burned down in 1910 and was never rebuilt. My mother
who was 14 at the time of the fire often recalled the event. It was
a Sunday afternoon when the day's services were over. The last ones
to leave neglected to tend the potbellied stove properly before they went
home. The sadness that came over the town that evening was as great
as if a patiarch had been killed in the mine as had happened to so many
of their family members.
FATHER SOTIS of Rockaway continued to celebrate
Mass in Heslin's Hotel in Hibernia until he died in 1913. Father
Sotis' successors however, did not continue the Mass in Hibernia except
on rare occasions.
MANY OF THE old houses still stand, too.
A faithful remnant live in them, and the brook still flows through the
valley. Underneath the ground that yeilded ore at the cost of many
lives, who kinows what treasure lie - a Delaney and Caples bottle or an
old cannonball that was never meant to go off to war.
Photo's and article courtesy of Fr. Richard Tartaglia, St. Mary's RC Denville New Jersey