Our Parish, Our Home… the first 40 years
St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, New Jersey, was formerly established by the Diocese of Trenton on Sept. 27, 1966. It was quite evident at the time that Ocean County would need another parish on this side of the Toms River since it was one of the fasting growing counties in the country. In order to accommodate the growing Catholic population, the Most Rev. George Ahr, Bishop of Trenton, established a new parish to serve the geographical area of Beachwood, Bayville, Pine Beach, Ocean Gate and South Toms River.
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This area was formerly served by St. Joseph Parish in Toms River. Catholics of the area celebrated Mass in the Bayville Fire House and were served by priests of St. Joseph Parish until our own pastor, Fr. Julian Rucki, was officially assigned to the new parish of St. Barnabas. Mass continued in the Fire House as plans and construction took place on what would become our new beautiful Church, an architectural and liturgical milestone for its time.
Fr. Rucki moved into a temporary rectory at 2 Sylvan Lake Blvd. Many people can remember celebrations such as weddings and baptisms taking place in a house where Wawa stands now during the course of those three years.
Fr. Rucki and the people of the parish had the joy of celebrating Easter Sunday Mass in the parish center in 1969. Then on October 9th of that year the first Mass was celebrated in the new Church. St. Barnabas Church and Parish Center was formally blessed and dedicated by Bishop Ahr on June 28, 1970.
Though the buildings are sometimes the most outward and visible aspect of a parish, the church is the people. From the time of its establishment, St. Barnabas has been primarily the story of a great parish family united in faith and works of love, service, compassion and even, at times, lots of fun. Parish groups were quickly organized, and meetings were held in the parish center. The Holy Name Society and the Altar Rosary Society were among the first formed, and enthusiastically assisted Fr. Rucki and all the parishioners to build a community of faith which consisted of a CYO and a new CCD program.
As needs in the parish increased, so did the necessity of space. The parish saw much growth and building under the pastorship of Fr. Brennan. Some real estate was sold in order to produce revenue to build a parish center, chapel and add onto the rectory, which then contained the parish offices. On June 14, 1980 the parish celebrated the rededication of the old parish center, naming it Fr. Rucki Hall, honoring our first pastor and establishing a new Religious Education center for our children. The Spiritual Center, which is an expansion of the Parish Center, was constructed along with the Chapel of Our Lady Star of the Sea, under the direction of Fr. Brennan and dedicated on Feb. 12, 1984.
As we approached our 40th anniversary, the Parish offices were moved into the newly renovated space at the Parish Rectory while the old parish office space became our music ministry room. In addition, a much needed expansion of parking facilities took place with a new multi-purpose field as well as the drop-off circle for the safety of our children coming and going from Religious Education.
Through the first 40 years of St. Barnabas, many priests, Deacons, and sisters, have served our community. The pastors who have served St. Barnabas Parish are as follows: Fr. Julian Rucki, 13 years -1966-1979, Fr. Thomas Brennan, 14 years -1979-1993, Fr. Rocco Cuomo, 6 years-1993-1999, Fr. Jack Dwyer, 3 years -1999-2002, Fr. Kevin Keelen, 10 years 2002-2012.
The religious sisters that have ministered in our parish are: Sr. Pat McNiff who served as coordinator of the CCD program for over 20 years, Sr. Kathleen McMullin, who served two years, Sr. Pat Lally who served as a Pastoral Associate for 6 years, and Sr. Janis McQuade who served as a Pastoral Associate for one year.
The priest Associates who have served here are: Fr. Henry Hemmerling, Fr. Francis DiAntonio, Fr. George Deutsch, Fr. Seamus Brennan, Fr. John Butler, Fr. Austin Murray, Fr. Dennis Sullivan, Fr. John Scully, Fr. Pat Mullen, Fr. Phil Pfleger, Fr. John Magdziak, Msgr. Phil Lowery, Fr. Patrick Wenrick, Fr. Bob Evers, Fr. Mark Devlin, Fr. Leon Buni, Fr. Mike Sullivan, Fr. Joe McLaughlin and Fr. Peter James Alindogan.
In addition, there have always been those faithful priests who have helped as weekend assistants and served us in other celebrations easing the burdern for our own priests, among these include the following: Fr. Kane, Fr. Hammet, Msgr. Mahoney, Fr. Timp, Fr. Martin Padovani, Fr. Henry Ferrazoli, Msgr. William Naedele, Msgr. Joseph Flusk, Msgr. Ricardo Gonzolez, Fr. Phil Denig and Msgr. John Wherlen.
Since the Permanent Diaconate was established in the United States, St. Barnabas has always been blessed with parishioners who have answered the call to serve, receiving Holy Orders and ordained Deacon. The Deacons who have served St. Barnabas over first 40 years are: Deacon Peter Clausen, Deacon Jim Cummings, Deacon James McGrath, Deacon Nick Amatelli, Deacon Michel Taylor, Deacon Jack Grimes, Deacon Guy Rasmussen, Deacon George Swanson, and Deacon Michael Smigelski.
St. Barnabas has always taken the needs of the poor and marginalized very seriously and started the Social Action Committee since its early days. Fr. Brennan began the social action collection and food pantry. We have always served the people of our area with food, clothing, financial support and other necessities. SWAP and our Fellowship meal, which were established during Fr. Brennan’s time, lasted over 20 years, and began to grow beyond the capacity of the parish, its facilities and volunteers. In 2004, our St. Vincent de Paul Society was formed to continue the efforts of all social action ministries at St. Barnabas as we continued to do our best to make a difference and to be a beacon of hope for our area.
In March of 1984 a new Council number 8603, of the Knights of Columbus, was established at St. Barnabas Parish and has been very active in the parish ever since. The Knights continue to provide many services of social, spiritual, and practical nature for our entire community.
What was once CYO evolved into youth ministry, known in our parish as the B.A.T.s (Barnabas Active Teens). The young people of our parish have always been very active in many wonderful ways. Through youth ministry the opportunities for our young people to experience and grow in their faith have expanded significantly.
Many powerful and spiritual programs have blessed our parish over the years such as the first Renew in 1985 followed by Renew 2000, and later the “Why Catholic” program. In religious Education we moved into the mode of Whole Community Catechesis, which helps families to share faith with one another on a regular basis and empowers our community in the important task of life-long and inter-generational catechesis and learning.
Hundreds of parishioners of all ages have given themselves to the many ministries and special events of our parish that have come and gone over the years, and in many cases continue to thrive today. Mini-Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, RCIA, Baptism Preparation, Pre-Cana, Bible Study, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Open Door Prayer Group, Centering Prayer Group, the Rosary Altar Society, Faith Sharing Groups, Hospitality Committee, Caregivers, Camillus Visitors, Rainbows, Prism, Comfort Ministry, Bereavement Ministry, Elizabeth Ministry, Separated and Divorced Support Group, Interfaith Hospitality, Parish Nursing, Parish Counselors, Community Sundays, Teen Dances, the Fish & Chips Dinner, Stewardship & Ministry Fairs, St. Barnabas Day Outdoor Commissioning Mass & Parish Picnic, Christmas Tree Lighting, Golden Age Society, Respect Life, Annulment Advocates, Catholic School Parents, Trips in support of the Hurricane Katrina Relief effort, Mission trips with Habitat for Humanity and Good Works, CROP walk, Passion Plays, Living Stations of the Cross, Children’s Liturgy, Altar Servers, Lectors, Ushers, Eucharistic Ministers, Music Ministries and more have all blessed the Parish life of St. Barnabas.
As need and interest arrived, we continued to grow in new ways and will continue to grow into the future. Please continue reading in “Our Church History from the Past Decade” for the most up-to-date information on Parish Life at St. Barnabas.