Saint Jude Parish: A Family Above All

By: Danielle Incognito


St. Jude Parish Church, located in Budd Lake, is a parish of the Paterson Diocese.  They serve a diverse population of people who vary in age and ethnicity, and they value the importance of each person “formed in the image of Christ.”  What makes this church special is that they invite the public to “seek and to know the love of the Savior Jesus.”  They boast that their message and beliefs are deeply rooted in the Gospel of Christ, and they are committed to serving the Universal Church which begins with local community.  Their ultimate vision as seen on their website is “to welcome everyone to become one Catholic family, with fullness of life, living the Paschal Mystery, in the Holy Spirit, with Mary as the companion.”

St. Jude Parish had its origin as a mission church of Saint Michael’s Parish in Netcong, and it began as a summer visiting spot for the people who vacationed in Budd Lake.  Even though few people drove, there was enough demand to have a priest come from St. Michael’s. Mass there began with a portable altar, and soon the demand for something bigger emerged. World War II made the progress halt, and they did not push on until 1946 with plans for the new church.

Soon after, Monsignor Edwin E. Lange of St. Michael’s gave permission for a committee to form which would raise money for a new church. On February 19,1946 Bishop Thomas McLaughlin, Bishop of the Paterson Diocese, gave permission for those funds to be utilized to build a church. “The Little Church” building, originally standing at the edge of Mount Olive Road was completed before the end of 1946. Catholic families had raised the funds through card games, picnics, and other ways which helped bring the community together.

On June 12, 1967, Father Leo Carey was appointed the first resident pastor of St. Jude Church, and it no longer needed the support of St. Michaels. It became its own, independent church.  It was able to celebrate baptism and marriage in its walls in 1967.

The Reverend John White was appointed as the second pastor of St. Jude Parish in 1970, and in 1979 Father Joseph Cassidy was appointed the third pastor by Bishop Frank Rodimer.

In 1972, Sunday masses were moved to a new parish as a result of the parish’s growth.  Special celebrations were still held at the “Little Church,” but it could not hold the large groups of people for mass.  A rectory was built in 1979 for the clergy.

The town began to grow rapidly, and in November 1986, the need for a new parish church was clear.  On March 13, 1988, a groundbreaking ceremony was held, and Bishop Frank Rodimer turned over its first dirt. A large turnout of clergy, town dignitaries and parishioners came to witness the momentous occasion. The construction began in April 1988.  This became possible with the help of a fund drive which pledged $1, 500,000 by the end of it. With the help of generous parishioners, the church was completed in May of 1990.  Bishop Rodimer set the day of dedication for June 10, 1990 at 3:00 p.m.

Today, Reverend Jesus Antonio Gaviria is Pastor of the church.  He began his training in Colombia with the Vincentian priests, and eventually came to learn English in the Diocese of Paterson where he became ordained.  Father Antonio’s first assignment as a priest was at Sacred Heart Church in Dover.  He later became the associate pastor of both Sacred Heart and Holy Rosary Church in Dover. In January of 2010, he was transferred to Saint Vincent Martyr in Madison. Father Antonio said he had the grace and the privilege to celebrate his fifth anniversary as a priest at Saint Vincent Martyr parish. 

St. Jude’s Church is very proud to acknowledge all of the contributions made to their food collection for those in need, and Rev. Antonio invites his parish to participate in them. Parishioners brag about their experience with Reverend Antonio and his church. One follower on Facebook posted, “I was raised catholic but never really attended a church. I never had that call to come back to the same church twice. I went to St. Jude Church once just to thank God for some graces and I could NEVER stop going back. We feel loved and welcomed. Father Antonio and Father Ben are amazing human beings with a big heart. Our two church singers make me tear the entire service. I now feel connected to God more than ever. God brought me back to praise in communion with others that care for each other.”

Along with Rev. Antonio, Deacon John Sanker, member of the parish since 1982, now serves as the pastoral assistant.  Laurice Bonanella currently runs the Christian Faith Formation.  Its philosophy is that, “The family is our first community and the most basic way in which the Lord gathers us, forms us and acts in the world. The Faith Formation Program can only enhance and encourage what is presented in our homes. Only parents can create a God-centered home where behavior is guided by godly living, where there is continuity between faith at home, faith at church, and faith in everyday life. It is our duty as parents to try our best to represent the Christian ideal to our children. In the short number of class meetings each year, we try to teach the message of Jesus, the Good News, and present the basic teachings of our Catholic faith. We need to support each other in this very important effort.”

St. Jude’s also offers a comprehensive Adult Baptism/Eucharist Confirmation which is run by Dr. Deb Kuzma.  This allows for those adults who have not yet received sacraments in the Catholic faith to learn and do so.  They explain that, “The RCIA process is open to those who have never been baptized as well as those baptized into a different faith. For persons who embark on the process it is a time of reflection, prayer, instruction, discernment, and formation. The candidates, or catechumens who enter the process are expected to attend Mass on Sunday, attend a weekly RCIA session, and become involved in the activities of the parish.”

The church community also offers a Rosary Altar Society, a garden club, and a popular Men’s and Women’s Cornerstone.  One of the church’s Facebook followers posted, “Please, if you have ever thought of going to a Retreat, give yourself the 27 hours to reflect, meet friends, make new ones, or join our community.  Don’t miss this experience.”

                    With anticipation, the church looks toward its future.  Father Antonio will be leading a Pilgrimage leaving on September 17, 2020.  It will be a 10-day trip featuring Italian Renaissance and the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany.  All this latest news and current bulletins with information on the church’s plans and activities can be seen on their website.

St. Jude Thaddeus Church offers mass times for all who want to enter its doors and become a part of their Catholic community.  Mass is held Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 p.m., and Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m.

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