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Contact: Mary Corbet
The Church of Saint James
(908) 766-0888
Church of Saint James Sets 150th Anniversary Celebration
Basking Ridge Faith Community Celebrates Catholicism in Somerset Hills
Basking Ridge, N.J. (Oct. 14, 2013) – The Church of Saint James, the Roman Catholic parish
in Basking Ridge, will start a yearlong celebration on Sunday Oct. 20 in honor of and
gratitude for its 150th year since its incorporation in 1864.
The celebratory year includes:
-- An opening Mass on Sunday Oct. 20 at 10:30 am with its pastor, Reverend Glenn J.
Comandini, S.T.D., presiding.
-- Bible study classes focusing on Letter of Saint James.
-- A parish pilgrimage June 21-30, 2014 to Santiago de Compostela, the city in northwest
Spain where the tomb and cathedral of Saint James the Greater, the patron saint of the
Church of Saint James, are located. The pilgrimage will follow part of the “El Camino de
Santiago” (The Way of Saint James), a network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across
Europe and coming together at the tomb of Saint James.
-- A parish picnic.
-- A closing Mass on Oct. 21, 2014 with Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, Bishop, Diocese
of Metuchen, presiding and preaching.
-- A parish gala event on Oct. 21, 2014.
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In addition, the parish is preparing souvenirs and enhancements offered to parishoners
during the course of the anniversary year:
-- A commemorative history book.
-- A keepsake prayer card, calendar and magnet.
-- Decorations in the sanctuary including the mantra of the 150th anniversary: “Remember,
Celebrate, Believe.”
To symbolize the anniversary, a new logo featuring the scallop shell, the symbol of Saint
James the Greater, was introduced and will appear on the parish website, the weekly
bulletin and other parish collateral material.
Father Comandini commented: “"If our founding mothers and fathers could be here today,
what would they say? Hopefully: 'So this is what it means to be Church!'"
“Congratulations to The Church -- the people -- of Saint James. This is a birthday which only
comes along once in a lifetime: Enjoy it, savor it and, together, let us thank God for the
opportunity to be part of it.”
About Saint James
James was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of Saint John the Apostle. He is
called “the Greater” either because he became an apostle before Saint James the Less,
because he was taller or bigger than Saint James the Less, or because he was older than
Saint James the Less. He was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist and a fisherman by trade.
He left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men. James was present during
most of the recorded miracles of Christ, including the Transfiguration. He preached in
Samaria, Judea, and Spain and was the first apostle to be martyred. His feast day is July 25.
About The Church of Saint James
The Church of Saint James began with Mass in private homes in the pre-Revolutionary War
era in Basking Ridge. Today, the parish has a wide-ranging Catholic ministry based at its
complex of church, rectory, pre-K thru 8th grade elementary school, and school of religious
education. The parish has grown from a few families at its founding to more than 3,100
today, and from 85 seats in its first church to space for 450 people in the second church
(now the chapel) to the current main sanctuary with seating for 1,000.
As early as 1758, a Jesuit priest traveled on horseback into Basking Ridge on his way to or
from Philadelphia. He would hear confessions, baptize, celebrate Mass, preach a sermon,
give Communion, perform marriages, and then continue on to another place. Baptismal
records refer to the area as “Bascon Ridge.”
In 1853, Basking Ridge Catholics were placed under the spiritual care of Saint Vincent’s
Parish in Madison. Church property was purchased in 1859 on the lower end of South Maple
Avenue and Henry Street. It included almost a third of an acre and a 125-year old carpenter
shop, which was renovated into a church to seat 85 people.
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The Church of Saint James was incorporated October 20, 1864 by the Most Reverend James
Roosevelt Bayley, D.D., a second cousin of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and also a cousin
of the 20th-century Saint Mother Elizabeth Bayley Seton. Incorporation papers read
“baskinridge.”
After its incorporation, Saint James was a mission of the Church of the Assumption in
Morristown until 1873. It then shared a pastor, chalice, buckboard wagon, horse and
harness with Saint Joseph’s in Mendham. In 1898, the parish became a mission of the
newly-established Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bernardsville.
By 1948, Saint James became a fully established parish with two missions, at Mount Bethel
and Martinsville, now both separate parishes. On October 6, 1957, Father Joseph A.B. Wade
was appointed pastor. During his pastorate (1957-1981), land for a new church and rectory
was purchased; subsequently, an existing house (previously a convent and currently the
offices of the Saint James School of Religious Education) and school property were added.
The chapel’s New England colonial design was originally chosen in keeping with the
character of the town. Saint James School was built and opened in 1969. The church (now
chapel) was consecrated on May 4, 1980 by the Most Reverend John C. Reiss, Bishop of
Trenton. In January 1982, Saint James became part of the new Diocese of Metuchen.
From the 1980s through the 1990s the Somerset Hills continued to grow with expansion of
condominium developments and housing. During these years, the number of weekend
Masses increased to six with standing-room only crowds at each Mass. Masses on
Christmas and Easter were held in the newly expanded school gym. In response to this
growth the Bishop initiated an expansion effort at Saint James in 1992. Monsignor William J.
Capik headed the effort to expand the church. A new church expansion (costing $7.6 million)
began in September 1998 and was completed and dedicated on December 12, 1999.
Pastors have included the Reverend Joseph A. Ryan 1898-1914; Reverend Monsignor
William I. McKean, 1914-1948; Reverend Edward J. Draus, 1948-1954; Reverend Gerald J.
Griffin, 1954-1957; and Reverend Joseph A. B. Wade, 1957-1981. On May 1, 1981,
Reverend Monsignor William J. Capik was appointed pastor of Saint James and served for
24 years until his retirement on July 1, 2005, at which time the Reverend Glenn J.
Comandini, S.T.D. assumed the pastorate.
www.saintjamesbr.org
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Saint James Sets 150th Anniversary Celebration (Oct 14 2013)