Church of the Holy Trinity
    60 Maple Street, Bridgewater, NJ 08807

 History Timeline 
Spring of 1938 - A Humble Beginning

Zealously tended by Father Margerum, administrator of Saint Bernard's Church in Raritan, New Jersey, the seed of faith took root and emerged to blossom in the Spring of 1938. Aware of his parishioners' traveling difficulties to Sunday Mass at St. Bernard's, Father investigated the possibility of having Sunday Mass celebrated locally. The search proved to be short-lived, however, since the Tolbirt family on Oak Street, Bradley Gardens, gladly offered their spacious basement. Grateful to Mr. Joseph Tolbirt, a non-Catholic, and his wife Frances, a devout Catholic, the small community of approximately one hundred twenty people assembled each Sunday to hear Mass offered by Father Margerum or by one of the Vincentian Fathers from Saint Joseph's Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, which at the time supplied week-end assistance at Saint Bernard's. Transportation for the visiting priest from Princeton was very often provided by a parishioner who would drive the Father from Princeton and back again even in winter's inclement weather.

Furnace trouble at the Tolbirt home made it necessary to transfer Sunday Mass to the Bradley Gardens Volunteer Fire House on Brahma Avenue where it continued until the construction and completion of the new church. Meanwhile, Father Cornelius McGonigle had succeeded Father Margerum as pastor of Saint Bernard's. The new pastor with his weekend help from the Vincentian Seminary continued the work begun by his predecessor. To help the priest prepare for Sunday Masses, zealous and faithful parishioners would make sure there were clean linens for the altar and that the altar was properly set.

At a meeting held at Saint Joseph's Rectory, East Millstone, New Jersey, on June 19, 1948, Holy Trinity Parish of Bradley Gardens was assigned formal boundaries. Present at the meeting were the following pastors: Father Stephen I. Buividas of Holy Trinity, Bradley Gardens; Father Edward P. Atzert of Saint Joseph's, East Millstone; Father Joseph Miller of Saint Bernard's, Raritan; Father Robert J. Graham of Immaculate Conception, Somerville; Father Joseph Kurtz of Mary, Mother of God, Flagtown; and Monsignor James S. Foley who presided. Through mutual agreement, it was established that Holy Trinity encompass the following territorial boundaries: North - South of New Jersey State Highway 28 from Raritan Borough line west to Hunterdon County line; East - Raritan Borough line from New Jersey State Highway 28 to the Raritan River; South - Raritan River to the North and South Branch Junction to Old York Road, West to the Hunterdon County line; West - Hunterdon County line from New Jersey State Highway 28 South to Readington Road.
First Mass at Holy Trinity's Formal Altar

Masses were celebrated each Sunday at the Firehouse (Brahma Avenue) until September 25, 1949, when the auditorium of the present church was completed and Mass said there for the first time. But it was not until October 30, 1949, that Mass was said at the main altar of the completed church. That Sunday, Father Stephen celebrated High Mass at eleven o'clock. The music, taken from the Mass of the Angels, was sung by the parish choir and directed by Mrs. Pauline Urban, the church organist. Of course, the day would have been more solemn had Bishop Griffin been present to lay the cornerstone and to bless and dedicate the new church. Because of grave illness and his untimely death these ceremonies were postponed.
Holy Trinity Officially Blessed

It was not until Holy Trinity Sunday, June 4, 1950, that the late Bishop Griffin's successor, Bishop George W. Ahr, performed the long-awaited ceremonies: the laying of the cornerstone and the blessing and dedication of the church. Holy Trinity, incidentally was the first church dedicated and blessed by Bishop Ahr as bishop of Trenton. The event was celebrated with the first Solemn High Mass, Corem Espiscopo, the main celebrant being Father Stephen I. Buividas, assisted by Father Joseph Miller as deacon, and Father Edward Blazka as sub-deacon. The sermon was delivered by Father Emilio Cardelia, pastor of Saint Joachim's Church, Trenton, New Jersey, and the Master of Ceremonies was the Vice Chancellor, the Very Reverend James Hogan.
Rectory Completed

As yet, Father Stephen had no rectory. It was still necessary for him to board at the homes of his parishioners. When the Church was completed, he moved into its damp uncomfortable basement, which was his living quarters until the Fall of 1952 when the rectory was completed and dedicated.

With the church and rectory completed, the parish was well on its way to meeting future spiritual and physical challenges. Among these was the reduction of the debt incurred by the construction of the church ($74,500) and the rectory ($58,042). In diminishing this debt, the jointly sponsored fund raising efforts of the newly formed Altar Rosary and Holy Name Societies were needed. Bazaars, card parties, raffles, and merchandise clubs were put to use. All this was highlighted by the annual musical comedy, 'Breakfast in Hollywood' written, directed and staged by talent discovered within the parish.
Religious Education for the Young

While Holy Trinity parishioners, under the sponsorship of the Church Societies, were actively engaged in helping their pastor finance the newly erected buildings, the need for religious education for the young became apparent. To fulfill this need, Father Stephen invited the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, who were already working at Saint Bernard's and Saint Ann's in Raritan since 1939, to play their vital role in his parish. In 1948, led by their superior, Sister Mary Monica, the Sisters began teaching the children of Holy Trinity at the facilities provided by Saint Ann's Parish. Their efforts bore fruit. On May 16, 1948, the Sisters witnessed their first Holy Communion class receive the Eucharist for the first time, and on November 4, 1950, after much preparation, their first Confirmation class received the Holy Spirit. As was quite obvious, the Sisters lived up to Father's expectations.

After four years of untiring service, including building a church and rectory, landscaping, and creating a spirit of cooperation among his people, Father Stephen was assigned as Catholic Chaplain at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. He was succeeded by Father James Murphy of Saint Mary's Church, South Amboy, on September 19, 1952. On that same day Father Stephen left for his new apostolate.

Parishioners, when describing Father Murphy, fondly referred to him as "an Irishman with an easy smile and lots of vitality, challenging every problem with a kindly graciousness." During this time, Bingo was started as an important fund raising endeavor. With his parishioners conducting Bingo in the basement of the church and by his own careful fiscal planning, he was able to pay off debts incurred from earlier construction and landscaping. His stay as pastor of Holy Trinity was terminated on May 6, 1956, when he was assigned to Saint Joseph's Church, Beverly, New Jersey, as its pastor.
Renovations and Expansion

With the appointment of Reverend John W. McMullin as administrator on May 7, 1956, and pastor on June 11, 1957, an era of renovating and expansion began. As with all buildings, the church needed repairs and remodeling. Father immediately pursued his plans. After renovating the church, he furnished the rectory. In order to encourage devotion to Mary, he had a shrine built. The area was also beautifully landscaped to give the parish grounds a devotional and pleasant atmosphere. Within a few months, the adjacent land owned by the Pomaleau family was purchased for $9,000.00 in order to enlarge the church property and to provide ample parking space.

In the early 1960's the existing religious education program was expanded in order to compensate for the lack of a parochial school. With the blessing and encouragement of the Pastor, the guidance of the Parish Visitors, the cooperation of responsible and devout lay parishioners, the program received a great deal of emphasis and provided many activities, including a well organized summer religious school for children of the elementary level. Besides teaching religion, the program extended itself into arts and crafts and various physical education exercises.

In 1967, the religious education program was officially incorporated into the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (C.C.D.), with Sister Clotilde of the Parish Visitors as its Director. She zealously strove to improve the curriculum and to raise its standards by encouraging the lay teachers to attend lectures and courses leading to the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Teaching Certificate.

As yet, nothing substantial was organized for those of high school age within the parish. Sensing this need, Sister Clotilde, with the assistance of interested adults, organized a C.Y.O. program, thus bringing the youth together for religious, athletic and social activities.
Groundbreaking for Parish Center

As industry moved into Bridgewater and Branchburg areas, residential development was on the increase. Almost overnight, the church with its seating capacity of two hundred and twenty-five people became too small to accommodate the influx of new parishioners. The need for larger facilities for Mass, C.C.D. classes, C.Y.O. activities, social functions and fund raising projects was quite obvious, especially to those actively involved in them. The most practical and most economic solution at this time in Father McMullin's mind was to build a Parish Center, large and convenient enough to be used for every one of the above-mentioned activities. Deciding this to be the best move, ground breaking took place on November 24, 1967. Among those witnessing Father McMullin turn over the first shovel full of dirt were the parish's trustees, John Fowley and Felix Ardin.

By mid 1968, the $170,000 structure was completed and ready for use. Sunday Masses were now offered in the Center. The parish Bingo was no longer held at the Firehouse on Old York Road but in the spacious, comfortably air-conditioned Parish Center.

Meanwhile, weekend associates from Religious Orders, such as the Redemptorist, Dominicans, Jesuits and Capuchins, assisted Father McMullin in attending to the spiritual needs of the people. These men contributed a great deal to the spiritual growth of the parish by baptizing, hearing confessions, offering Mass, preaching, and involving themselves in other religious and social activities in the parish such as C.C.D. and C.Y.O. The impact some of them made will always be felt and we pray rewarded by God.

1969 brought to Holy Trinity a note of sadness because it was in that year that the Sisters of the Parish Visitors departed from the parish. After serving the parishioners of Holy Trinity for twenty-one years by bringing solace to the poor, knowledge to the children and good example to all, they were recalled to their Motherhouse in Monroe, N.Y., for assignments elsewhere. Of course, the memory of their encouraging words and friendly smiles will always remain fresh and vivid in the hearts and minds of those who knew them.
A New Phase of CCD

With the departure of Sister Clotilde, Mrs. Olga Wichowski was assigned Director and coordinator of the elementary C.C.D. program. At the same time, Father Peter Niosia, a Capuchin weekend assistant, accepted to moderate and teach those belonging to the High School C.C.D. program. In September, 1971, a new phase of the C.C.D. program was launched. Father McMullin had asked Father Peter for Brothers from his friary to help coordinate and direct the program. That year, Brothers Sam Frapaul and Vincent Fortunato, both Capuchin seminarians for the priesthood, injected new enthusiasm in the teachers and added a spirit of solidarity to the program.

One other phase of the C.C.D. program had to be considered, that of the high school level. Not having had much success with Sunday evening classes and lectures, a different approach was considered and tried with much success. Father Peter, as Moderator, and Mrs. Mary Kuhns, as Director and coordinator, set up scheduled planned activities so as to organize and create a closely knit Youth Group, while Carol Ann Grissler prepared and directed the choir for the Sunday liturgy. The focal point of the program was the 10:00 O'clock Sunday Mass which became completely youth orientated. With readers, ushers, offertory participants, choir singers, etc., taken from among the high school (8th to 12th grades) registrants, the program became real and relevant, creating a closely knit group of parishioners.

With the approval and encouragement of Father McMullin, the men of the parish organized two important spiritual movements, annual retreats and Nocturnal Adoration. Both efforts were sponsored and promoted by the Holy Name Society. Rosarians also organized and sponsored spiritual activites such as evenings of recollection held annually at the Cenacle in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Vatican II Changes

Vatican II, with its spirit of renewal and updating, brought about many ritualistic, liturgical and administrative changes. Among the most significant administrative changes was the creation of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. This Council, along with the local Parish Council, extended to laymen the opportunity to take a more active and a more meaningful role in the Church. Holy Trinity, besides lay trustees, now had laymen acting as delegates to the Pastoral Council. The first to be appointed as delegate to this Council was James Dowden. Dominic Zagari was named as alternate.

In August, 1972, Father McMullin was notified that he had been assigned to Saint Elizabeth's Church in Avon, New Jersey. Father William J. Hewitt of Saint Magdalene's Church in Flemington was named his successor. On September 8, 1972, Father Hewitt was officially installed as Pastor of Holy Trinity in an evening ceremony presided over by Monsignor John Torney, The Episcopal Vicar of the area. Father Hewitt expanded the programs for the youth of the parish. He formed a Boy Scout Troop, a Co-ed Explorer Unit and a champion marching drill team "The Phanton Regiment."

In an effort to further develop the spirituality and leadership skills of the youth, Father Hewitt sponsored a Youth Hostel during the summer months in Lavallette, N.J. where the young people attended daily Mass, studied scripture, performed works of social ministry and enjoyed recreation under the guidance of Father Hewitt and husband and wife leadership teams. He expanded the C.C.D. program, placing great emphasis on teaching the chief doctrines of the faith and he started a diocesan certification program for the continuing education of religion teachers.

In providing service to his parishioners, Father Hewitt started a baby sitting program at all the Masses. He enhanced the liturgy and encouraged devotion by organizing choirs at each Mass as well as special musical groups such as the Brass Band and the Boys Choir for festive occasions. He also started a Perpetual Adoration Society and appointed several men of the parish as Eucharistic Ministers. As the number of families grew in the parish, Father Hewitt brought in Father Damian Towey C.P. and Father Stephen Horkin C.P. to assist him on weekends and Father Bernard Pagano as Associate.
Further Expansion of Holy Trinity Church

Continuing to provide for the needs of his growing active parish, Father Hewitt opened the parish center for holding affordable wedding receptions for parishioners. He purchased the Lucash property next to the rectory for further expansion of the parking lot as well as providing an enclosed garden for youth dances and cookouts for the parish youth and diocesan seminarians. Father Hewitt, recognizing the ongoing growth of people moving into the parish, hired the architects, Moran and Karlberg who extended the church doubling the capacity, adding a new liturgical sanctuary and a wing for C.C.D. classrooms and meetings.

Ever mindful of his commitment to the community at large, he started the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade that has brought the neighboring towns of Bridgewater, Raritan and Somerville close together. He served as Chaplain to the Bradley Gardens Rescue Squad, the local American Legion Post, the Bridgewater Police Department and the Somerville Knights of Columbus. He also formed bag pipe band the "Trinity Pipers."

In November 1985, Father Hewitt was appointed pastor of Our Lady of The Mount in Warren, New Jersey, and Father Pagano was appointed temporary administrator of Holy Trinity.

On Thanksgiving Day 1985, Father John Pringle, Associate Pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral, was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity and was officially installed as pastor on January 19, 1986 by Rev. Monsignor Anthony Luisini, Episcopal Vicar.
Active Parish Council Formed

In keeping with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, Father Pringle brought a collegial approach to being a shepherd to the people. He immediately formed an active Parish Council which acts and serves in an advisory capacity to him in studying or determining the existence of problems or conditions that require change. The Council sets working priorities and recommends actions on the spiritual and temporal needs of the parish and use of the parish resources to meet those needs.

As a result of recommendations of the Council, Father Pringle made major renovations to church structures and grounds. Roofs were repaired or replaced. Oil tanks were removed to ensure compliance with new environmental requirements. The church parking lot was completely resurfaced. Buildings were painted and further maintenance and improvements are being planned. In addition, Father Pringle has been providing annual "state of the parish" reports to the people, including budget and financial information. Through the generous response of the people of the parish, Holy Trinity is free of all debt and bills are being paid on time.

Continuing the traditions of the previous pastors, Father Pringle has put great emphasis on providing religious education to the youth of the parish. He appointed Mrs. Mary Ribaudo as Director of Religious Education expanding the C.C.D. and Youth Group programs. He appointed Father Anthony Sirianni as chaplain to both groups and Geri Cuthbert as Director of Sacred Music.
Continued Growth for Holy Trinity Parish

The parish continues to grow as new housing developments are being constructed and the spiritual needs of the parishioners are being addressed. The R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) has been implemented to prepare people to become full members of the Catholic Church. The Social Concerns Committee is providing support to those people in most need of help. The Respect Life Committee is providing support in all areas of pro-life activities. Father John Pringle has expanded the Eucharistic Ministers Group to include women and the Altar servers to include girls. He has provided support to the Holy Name and Altar Rosary Societies and encouraged them to continue their great work. He has created an environment that instills confidence in people to participate in all areas of parish life. He has encouraged vocations and shared the confidence of the Bishop by being the priest mentor for three transitional deacons who became priests - Reverend Joe Hogan, Reverend Joe Celano and Reverend Michael Behuniak. He has been a great friend and spiritual support to Father Sean Winters and Deacon Mike Forrestall.
Golden Anniversary Celebration

1998 marks the 50th anniversary of Holy Trinity Parish. Its church, on the corner of Ardmaer Drive and Maple Street, stands as not only a place of worship and solace, but also as a monument of faith in God and of witness to Christ's mandate:". . . go make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28 18-20). Reflecting on the past fifty Golden years of existence, parishioners may rightfully boast: "This is our Faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it . . ." (Rite of Baptism)

As our parish celebrates its Golden Anniversary and looks forward with optimism to the new millennium, we thank God for the blessings of the past fifty years and we recommit ourselves, as people of God, to continue our journey in faith trusting in the divine providence of God, the promise of eternal salvation of His Son and the love and protection of Mary, Our Blessed Mother.
Deacon John Phalen's Ordination

On June 9, 2012 John Phalen received the Right of Ordination, one of eleven men being ordained into the diaconate. The ordination was conducted at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen, by Bishop Paul G. Bootkowski. Deacon John has been a parishioner at Holy Trinity for over thirty years and became the second permanent deacon to serve at Holy Trinity.

Deacon John was raised in a very faith-based family. His Father was an avid reader of theology, especially St. Thomas Aquinas; while his Mother was a devotee of the Blessed Mother and had a very active prayer life. Deacon John said his adult faith practice came to him at a high school Cursillo retreat.

Deacon John is blessed to have a very supportive wife, Catherine, with whom he celebrated their 30th anniversary the same year.