The First Parish of Bergen County: Bringing you Christ since 1854
Saint Francis de Sales parish confesses our belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and proclaims the Kingdom of God in the Roman Catholic tradition by forming a community reflective of the diverse cultures of our area, empowered by God’s spirit, and dedicated to the shared ministry of witnessing to the good news in Word, Sacrament, and Action.
La parroquia de San Francisco de Sales confesamos la fe en Jesucristo como Señor y proclamamos el Reino de Dios en el seno de la tradición Católica Romana al formar una comunidad que refleja las diversas culturas de nuestra area, somos impulsados por el Espíritu de Dios y estamos dedicados a compartir el ministerio de testimoniar las Buenas Nuevas en Palabra, en Sacramento, y en Acción.
A Igreja de São Franciso de Sales reconhece a nossa fé em Jesus Cristo como o Senhor e proclama o Reino de Deus na tradição Cátolica que forma uma communidade que demostra culturas diferentes na nossaárea, permitido pelo o Espi´rito Santo que é dedicado ou ministério da testimunha da Bõa Noticia em Palavra,Sacremento, e em acção.
"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
St. Francis de Sales
The History of Our Church
December 19, 1992, marked a significant milestone in the history of Saint Francis de Sales Church in Lodi, New Jersey. The Archbishop of Newark, celebrated the Eucharist, marking the renovation of the church building.
It was a fitting gesture on the part of the parishioners who gathered to thank God for all the many blessings that have come to the people of Lodi in and through His temple, “God’s dwelling place among humankind” in Lodi, in the last 138 years. Saint Francis de Sales Church stands as a landmark. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in all of Bergen County, as well as one of the oldest structures in Lodi.
In 1854, Lodi was the fastest growing and most enterprising village in Bergen County. It was the home of Robert Rennies’ world-famous Calico Printing Works, his Bleachery Mill, and the most flourishing general store in New Jersey. Into this setting, in June 1854, the building of Saint Francis de Sales Church commenced. The church was completed and dedicated on December 12, 1854.
The Reverend Father Senez of Saint John’s Church in Paterson was the first pastor. The original Church was built at a cost of $2,500, of which $1,400 was donated from Father Senez’ own funds. The original parish served the entire County of Bergen and the City of Passaic. Prior to 1854, Catholics had to travel to Paterson for mass on the Sabbath.
Reverend Joseph Ascheri became the first resident pastor in 1898. Before his arrival, the Church was served by several part-time pastors. He made improvements to the church building and added the bell tower to the original structure. Through the generosity of the parishioners, a beautiful bell was purchased. It calls the congregation to attend service.
Father Ascheri was responsible for raising funds to purchase almost three acres of land, on which the current church and facilities are now located. During his service to Saint Francis de Sales Church, Father Ascheri requested that his remains be laid to rest in the cemetery beside the Church. Upon his death in 1910, his wishes were fulfilled.
The next significant improvement to the church building came in 1942 when then-pastor Reverend Florence Mahoney improved the church exterior with asphalt brick siding. This was completed by Reverend Ladislaus J. Wilczewski, successor to Father Mahoney.
Reverend Edward P. Dugan became Pastor in 1945. With the cooperation of his parishioners, he made numerous alterations to the original structure. There was a need for more room, which led to church expansion.
Extensions were added to each side of the church, as well as a passageway in the rear and a new front entrance with a rosette window. The alterations included a new altar, organ, statues, Stations of the Cross, windows, confessionals, seats, and tabernacle.
Reverend Thomas Lennon succeeded Father Dugan and in 1971 authorized the renovation of the sanctuary in accordance with the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council.
The decade of the 1980s witnessed God’s continuing goodness to the parish of Saint Francis de Sales. While the parish grew in the Lord, the church building began to suffer the ravages of age.
By the early 1990s, it became apparent that major repairs were needed. Several places in the side transept ceilings were leaking badly, revealing the need for a new roof. The electrical system was also in need of replacement, while the heating system was old and threatened to break down each winter. The red shingling covering the exterior of the church since the 1940s was showing wear.
Simultaneous with these needs was the desire of the parish, both spoken and unspoken, for a worship space whose beauty reflected God’s goodness to our parish.
Late in the summer of 1992, the dream became reality as our pastor, Father Charles Theobald, announced that permission had been granted by the Archdiocese of Newark for the church renovation. Edward Zucchi and Sons were contracted as the overall project coordinators, with Paul Reilly serving as architect.
The selected design served both needs of the parish: the needed physical repairs were accomplished and, in the process, the church would be significantly beautified.
The first step in the renovation was the removal of the stained glass windows. The windows, which dated from the 1940s, depict Our Lady of Sorrows, Saint Paul, the Eucharist, the Ten Commandments, and Revelation on the west side (from north to south). On the east side (from north to south), they depict the Sacred Heart, the Altar of Sacrifice, the Seven Sacraments, and Saint Peter and the Passion.
Over the main entrance is the beautiful rosette window, and the clerestory is framed by windows with the fleur-de-lis in each. The inner entrance window celebrates the ministry of the deceased pastors of the parish, and the vestry areas Baptism and Veronica. Over the main entrance is the depiction of the Agony in the Garden.
All windows were removed, professionally cleaned and releaded, and then refitted in energy-saving and protective tempered glass windows.
The exterior work began with the red shingles replaced with layers of drivet, a synthetic material that gives the church the appearance and character of a granite structure. The initial work on the roof was slowed by the need to examine the structure of the original part of the church, dating from 1854.
Much to the surprise of the engineer, the original structure was found to be quite sound, with reinforcement needed on only one of the six structural trusses. Once the structural work was finished, the work on the roof was quickly completed.
The most significant change to the interior of the church is the addition of a children’s homily room behind the sanctuary area. For several years, Saint Francis de Sales has provided special children’s homilies in the priests’ sacristy. The increasing number of children participating necessitated this addition.
The room is lighted by large windows in the north wall. This natural light also illuminates the sanctuary through a keystone arch and large opaque glass panels.
The sanctuary was completely renovated, with a new altar, ambo, and presider’s chair. The original tabernacle and sanctuary lamp were regilted. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima and a new hand-carved statue of Saint Francis de Sales enhance the sanctuary area. The organ was replaced, and flexible seating was provided for the choir. An electronic carillon has also been installed.
New pews were installed in a configuration, providing an ample main aisle and two smaller aisles along the walls of the church. The pews are angled in such a way that everyone feels part of the worshipping community. Both new carpeting and tile complement the church interior.
The crowning glory of the church is the coffered ceiling. Oak beams are joined with a red cross and gold rosette at each intersection. The beams of the ceiling, which were fashioned by the master carpenter of the project, give a sense of airiness and space to the church. This sense of openness was further enhanced by the removal of the rarely used gallery.
Prior to the renovation, Saint Francis de Sales was without a permanent baptismal font. A new font placed at the midsection of the Church demonstrates the significance of baptism. It encompasses the entire journey of faith: children are baptized in its waters, and the remains of our dearly beloved are sprinkled with its waters in a final farewell. The font represents and offers the victory won for us by Christ.
The former side entrance in Union Street has been transformed, with the eastern entrance becoming a new reconciliation room and the western a restroom. The Union Street entrance through the vestibule opens to a large stone porch with side stairs to the sidewalk level.
The former reconciliation room in the northeast corner has become an entrance for the physically challenged. It is accessible by a graded walkway along the northern side of the church. The entrance doors of the church were replaced with wooden doors that have etched glass designs. The symbol selected for the doors bespeak the parish as a covenant people.
The main doors depict central figures in our heritage: Abraham, Moses, Judith, Esther, David, Elijah, the Blessed Virgin, Saint Joseph, Saint Elizabeth, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Paul, and Saint Peter. The inner doors portray trumpeting angels, announcing the good news celebrated within.
Meanwhile, the northwest exterior doors depict contemporary and patronal saints in our heritage: Saint John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and Saint Anthony of Padua and Lisbon. Etched in the glass is the invocation of our hearts: “Saints of God, come to our aid.”
The etched glass on the physically challenged door celebrates the healing ministry of Jesus in the Church. The windows proclaim the Lord’s words to the paralytic: “Take up your mat and walk.”
In 2012, Reverend Father John J. Galeano, Pastor had reconstructed the altar. The Tabernacle was moved from the right side to the center of the altar. It was then covered in marble. The floor was also covered in marble and ceramic.
Adding to the renovation of the altar, Father John J. Galeano placed the church’s statue of Jesus Christ on the Cross that is suspended from the ceiling above the altar, which was donated by Marius and Lori Sorbello of Lodi.
On September 1st, 2017, Fr. Francisco J. Rodriguez was named the Administrator of the parish by Most Rev. Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, CSsR, Archbishop of Newark. On July 1st, 2018, Cardinal Tobin assigned Fr. Francisco J. Rodriguez to be the pastor of our parish for 6 years.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, on September 30, 2018, came to our parish to install Fr. Francisco J. Rodriguez as the 18th Pastor of our Parish.