The Reverend Father Senez of St. John's Church in Paterson was the first Pastor. The original Church was built at a cost of $2,500.00 of which $1,400.00 was donated from Fr. Senez's 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 of St. Francis de Sales Church in 1898. Prior to 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 that calls the
congregation to services. 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 St. 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 Reverend Florence Mahoney then pastor,improved the Church exterior with asphalt brick siding. This was completed by Reverend Ladis1aus J. Wilczewski, successor to Father Mahoney. Reverend Edward P. Dugan became Pastor in 1945 and with the cooperation of his parishioners made numerous alterations to the original structure. There was a need for more room and to accommodate this need the Church was expanded. An addition was added to each side of the church, as well as a passageway in the rear, and a new front entrance with arosette 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 accord with the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council.
The decade ofthe 1980's witnessed God's continuing goodness to the parish of St. Francis de Sales. While the parish grew in the Lord, the Church building began to suffer the ravages of age. By the early 1990's, it became apparent that major repairs were needed. Several places in the side trancepts ceilings were leaking badly, revealing the need for a new roof. The electrical system was found to be wanting and in need of replacement. The heating system was old, and threatened to break down each winter. The red shingling covering the exterior of the Church since the 1940's 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 renovation of the church. Edward Zucchi and Sons were contracted as the overall project coordinators, with Paul Reilly serving as architect.
The design selected served both needs of the parish: The needed physical repairs were to be 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, dating from the 1940's, depict on the west side (from north to south), Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Paul, the Eucharist, the Ten Commandments and Revelation; on the east side (from north to south), they depict the Sacred Heart, the Altar of Sacrifice, the Seven
Sacraments, and St. 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 the 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 dri vet, a synthetic material which 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, St. Francis 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 St. Francis de Sales enhance the sanctuary area. The organ was replaced, and flexible seating 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 all feel part of the worshipping community. Both new carpeting and tile complement the Church interior.
The crowning glory of the Church is the coffer 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. The sense of openness was further enhanced by the removal of the rarely used gallery.
Prior to the renovation, St. Francis was without a permanent baptismal font. A new font placed at the midsection of the Church demonstrates the significance of baptism. The font 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 again and again the victory won for us by Christ.
The former side entrance onto Union Street has been transformed, with the eastern entrance becoming a new reconciliation room, and the western a rest room. 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, accessible by a graded walkway along the northern side of the Church.
The entrance doors of the Church were replaced with wooden doors with 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, St. Joseph, St. Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist, St. Paul and St.
Peter. The inner doors portray trumpeting angels, announcing the good news celebrated within. The northwest exterior doors depict contemporary and patronal saints in our heritage: St. John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, St.Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. 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. The Tabernacle 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, that which was donated by Marius and Lori Sorbello of Lodi along with the creation and design of this website .
The most memorable aspect of our renovation however, is that it is a gift of the people of St. Francis de Sales, Lodi, New Jersey to the honor and glory of God, now and forever ~Amen~