Southwest corner of Broadway & Ferry Avenue

The following is derived in part from
George Reeser Prowell's History of Camden County, New Jersey
published in 1886
and primarily from
Church of the Sacred Heart's A Heart in Camden for A Hundred Years
published in 1985 

The first Roman Catholic Church to be built in Camden was St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Camden, which was opened in. Camden was growing quite rapidly, and its first church, St. Mary's, built by the pastor James Moran, soon proved to be too small. In 1864 the second pastor, Patrick Byrne, started a new church of the Immaculate Conception at Broadway & Market Street, and in 1867 a new church opened up, Ss. Peter and Paul, in 1867.

Further growth spurred Father Byrne into establishing a mission in South Camden. Father Byrne bought a plot of land at Eighth and Van Hook Streets. There, in 1872, a little wooden building was erected. The Bishop of Newark sent down Dean William McNulty of Paterson to bless it. The people gathered, the Mass was offered, the sanctuary lamp was lit, and the Church of The Sacred Heart came to life in Camden. In 1885 a separate parish was formed and Right Rev. M. J. O'Farrell appointed Rev. William Lynch rector.

William H. Lynch

When the first rays of the rising sun reach a certain point on this planet called Camden, New Jersey, they illuminate the stained glass of a sanctuary window and the words "William H. Lynch" inscribed in it.

Those words are the first and most honorable signature to the parish of Sacred Heart because they form the name of the young priest who founded it in 1885, built its holy church in 1886 and broke his health trying to pay for it. In that same glance of the morning sun, the light also brightens up his chiseled name on a stately stone in St. Mary's Cemetery in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He died on August 27, 1921.

He himself saw the first light of day in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on August 5, 1859. Two days later his parents John and Honora had him baptized in St. Peter's Church by Fr. John Rodgers, formerly of Fermanagh. Educated at St. Charles College in Elliott, Maryland, and at Seton Hall, he was ordained in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Newark on June 7, 1884, by Bishop Winand Michael Wigger.

His first assignment, for only three months, was at Holy Cross, Sea Bright, and then he came to Gloucester. Somehow that association of the Holy Cross and the bright sea hints at the difficulties that oftened shadowed the bright light of his life.

Some years before he arrived at St. Mary's, Gloucester, three nuns had died there because of the dampness of the old building they lived in. The saintly pastor, Fr. Engelbert Kars, gave the rectory to the nuns and he and Fr. Lynch dwelt in the dampness themselves.

In September 1885, Fr. Lynch was appointed pastor of Sacred Heart parish in South Camden, but it did not have a rectory at all until 1887. The young priest lived at 1911 Broadway, and said Mass in a little wooden church at Ninth and Van Hook Streets. On November 13, 1885 he bought a site for a church from John Bamford at Broadway & Ferry, a pivotal spot, it seemed at the time, where tram lines for his scattered parishioners converged from several directions. With his trustees, Hugh Greenan and Richard Boyle, and his small congregation he decided to build the church of Sacred Heart.

Jeremiah O'Rourke, an architect from Newark, drew the plans and the ground was broken on May 20, 1886. Philip McDonald, a native of Cavan, Ireland, with his six half brothers, the Beattys of Philadelphia and his cousin Alexander Monroe from Inverness in Scotland began to lay the Trenton brownstone at Broadway and Ferry. On July 4, 1886, Bishop Michael Joseph O'Farrell of Trenton laid the cornerstone in the presence of 7,000 people. Work moved rapidly. Mahlon Harden of Camden did the woodwork and nine months after the shovel was sunk in the sand to start it, the church opened for the first Mass on March 6, 1887.

But the rapidity with which it was completed contrasted desperately with the long, dogged effort to pay for it. The mortgage of the new church, rectory and furnishings was $35,000.00 but the Sunday collection was only $2.50. Economically, the area of South Camden did not develop and the poverty clung. The weight of the impossible debt hung heavily on the young priest and damaged his health.

Less than two years after the new church opened with bright enthusiasm and hope, Fr. Lynch left his church and his people behind and was transferred to St. Joseph's in Keyport. There in a place bigoted against Catholics he filled a vacancy brought about by a misunderstanding between the Bishop and the former pastor. Eight months later he was on the road again, to St. John's in Allentown, where he ministered for six years.

On May 14, 1895, he linked up again with Fr. John Fox, to whom he was an assistant in his first assignment in Sea Bright, and "labored assiduously" (History of the Diocese of Trenton) in St. Mary's Cathedral in Trenton until 1898. He finished out the century as pastor of St. Mary's in Salem, near where the first Catholics had gathered in South Jersey 150 years before.

Then at last there was a long uninterrupted time for pleasant walks by the Delaware River and 19 years of rich, wholesome ministry in the lovely town of Lambertville. There, to this day, Mary Hartman remembers the kind pastor of St. John's who baptized her on October 7, 1900, five days after he arrived. He was there when she was old enough to know him. "He came into the school every day" she says "and he used to go for long walks with his heavy cane - not that he needed it - he would just walk along and swing it." She remembers his kindness when her mother died in 1913.  

Yet debt dogged his footsteps there too - $32,000.00 when he came. World War I began in 1914 and desperate unemployment resulted from it and a deadly influenza followed it. But he was there, stopping by at every house, stronger now, swinging the heavy cane and not needing to lean on it.

Mary Hartman was also present when he left 5t. John's in 1919 and nearly all of Lambertville lined up to say goodbye to him. It was indeed Goodbye. Fr. Lynch did not live long in Deal where they sent him. One year later, he had a serious operation from which he only partially recovered. On August 27, 1921, he died, in his 62nd year.

The old pewter mug that Mary Hartman treasures is much older now than he was then, dented from falls, but still beautiful like herself. It is the prize that Fr. Lynch gave her when she won his baby contest in 1901.

May his prize be better. And may the light always shine around his name,
brightly and clearly, like his stained glass window in the morning. 

Thanks, good priest, for "the house that you shaped in your heart." 

Philip McDonald, Master Mason
1855 -1912

Builder of Sacred Heart Church
Camden, New Jersey

He took a heap of broken stones
Cold, ill-shaped and odd,
And wove them all, big and small
Into a holy womb of God.


The Sacred Heart cornerstone, laid by Philip McDonald on July 4, 1886. Two thousand men from the Philadelphia Ancient Order of Hibernians, of which Philip was a member, were present in full regalia.

Excerpts from a letter written by Jeremiah J. Collins to Msgr. Edward Lucitt, on the event of the 75th Anniversary of the church at Broadway and Ferry, in 1961:

"Since I have been a parishioner for eighty-five years I thought it would be appropriate to review some historic events that occurred before and after 1886, which I think would be useful and interesting information to .the present and future members of the Parish:'

"The history of the Parish began when a small frame Chapel was built and located at 9th and Van Hook Streets for several years before the present Church was built and services were held there on Sundays only, under the direction of the late Rev. Dean Fitzsimmons, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception until a pastor was appointed by the Most Rev. Bishop of the Diocese who appointed the late Rev. William Lynch as the first Pastor of the Parish who started a campaign to raise funds to build the present church:

"This review of the Parish would not be complete unless the names of the pioneers who founded the Parish were remembered and also the names of the early members who joined the pioneers in a united congregation after the church was built at Broadway and Ferry Avenue. I have compiled two lists of the Original members of the Parish, one lists the names of families who attended services at the Chapel at Ninth and Van Hook, the other lists the families who attended services at the Church at Broadway and Ferry Avenue after 1886. They all took an active interest in the welfare of the Parish and their generous efforts should be remembered..." 

Pioneers the Ninth and Van Hook Street Chapel

Hugh Greenan 

Daniel Kelly 

Bernard McCormick 

John Higgins 

William Greenan 

John Kelly 

Hugh Morgan 

Hugh Weizst 

Margaret Connolly 

Patrick Quigley 

Harry Tobin 

Humphrey Toomey

William O'Rourke 

Timothy Collins 

William Chamberlain 

Patrick Whalen 

Michael Hendricks 

Thomas Fogarty 

James McManus 

Mrs. Charles Lind 

Charles Kelly 

Michael Clark 

Steve McKenna 

Margaret Carr 

Mrs. Louisa Brough

John King 

John McKenna 

Michael Reilly 

Sacred Heart Church at Broadway & Ferry Avenue

Peter Clickstine

James Croker

Thomas Boyle

Catherine O'Toole

Mrs. Mary Salter 

Patrick Cunningham 

Richard Boyle 

Edward Connor 

Mrs. Mary Souders

Mrs. Lillian Saunders 

James Hughes 

Theodore Tiedeken 

Mrs. Frank Wilmot  

Patrick Richardson

William Sands 

Michael Collins 

Michael Durkin 

 Edward Hughes 

James Deegan 

William Burke 

James Durkin 

Mrs. Doyle

William Darkin 

Mrs. Edmund Olsen 

Salvatore Cuneo 

Mrs. Rose Murtha 

John McCaffrey 

Dennis Manion 

Thomas McDermott 

Thomas Mahney 

Martin McGrath 

William Mullin 

Fred Schorpp 

Mrs. Deegan 

Thomas Early 

John Mullin 

Mrs. William Miles 

Michael Costello  

John Fay 

Daniel McGettigan 

Mrs. Anna Varley 

Mrs. Mary Peel

Patrick Doran 

John Callaghan 

Pat McDonald 

George Howard 

Lawrence Doran 

Walter Sekula 

James Devlin 

Phillip Rea 

James Richardson 

John Larkin 

Mrs. Loudenstine 

Thomas Kirk 

Mrs. Clayton 

Edward Martin 

James Monaghan 

John Dugan 

Mrs. Deno  

Bernard Gallagher  

Mrs. Lewis Jordan 

Charles Reinhart 

George Blake

Joseph Kettleson

Joseph Hyde

Michael Gartland

 Joseph Hayes

The Irish Connections of Sacred Heart

When Kathleen O'Toole and Kathleen Mauger, parishioners of Sacred Heart, poured Easter water from their century-old church in Camden, New Jersey, on a big flat rock in Downpatrick County Down on July 18, 1985, they were celebrating a continuous connection between their beloved brownstone building in Camden and the precious dust of a saint in Ireland - St. Patrick himself! Not just a connection between rocks and buildings or bodies and bones and blood, but the unbreakable bond of an enduring Irish spirit. They were celebrating the centennial of their church by concentrating on that connection. When they lit the candle they had carried from Camden, their tiny flame was a spark that had held Since Patrick's fire on Slane. Held out in high and icy wind since the Fifth Century, when he lit new flames on Easter Eve before the angry Druids lit old ones in Tara, County Meath.

Whether he admitted it or not, Patrick built his fire on the coals that Druid hands had raked in the ancient ashes of Ireland. Since then, for 1,500 years, bright sparks have flown as shovels hit the stones and broke ground for countless Irish churches across the world.

It was the same spark that stirred the people and moved the stones when William Lynch, a young 26-year-old priest put his shovel in the sands of South Camden on May 20, 1886, for the building of Sacred Heart. He had purchased the site at Broadway and Ferry in November of 1885, one month after the parish was incorporated on October 13th. Another Irish parish had started and the people who came to worship had names like Boyle and Doyle, Blake, Doran and O'Toole, Hughes, Larkin and Durkin, and, yet, it would be 90 years before the parish got its first Irish-born pastor, Michael Doyle, on November 11, 1974.

Exactly 119 years before, on November 11, 1855, Camden City got its first resident priest, Father James Moran of Roscommon, born there in 1824, related on his mother's side to Daniel O'Connell, the Irish patriot. Fr. Moran broke ground for St. Mary's Church on June 9, 1859. In 1863, he was succeeded by Fr. Patrick Byrne. It was this Irishman, born in Templeport, County Waterford, who established the second Catholic Church in the City of Camden, a little wooden building as a mission in his parish. The year was 1872 and Camden was in the Diocese of Newark, and this little church was the first in New Jersey to be called Sacred Heart. Following Fr. Byrne, it was serviced by Fr. Peter Fitzsimmons who was born near Virginia, County Cavan in 1840 and in his pastorate, Sacred Heart became a parish, and Fr. Lynch came up from Gloucester to run it. He hired Jeremiah O'Rourke, a well-known Newark architect to design it, Philip McDonald to build the walls, and Mayberry Harden of Camden to do the roof, windows and woodwork.

Six weeks after breaking ground, the foundation stone was laid on Sunday, July 4, 1886 with a show of green pomp and power that "shouted from the housetops of Camden" that "the faith of our fathers was living still." The winds had carried Patrick's fire to Nova Caesarea (New Jersey) just as surely as when "Jesus came to Caesarea Phillipi," another colony in another time.

The Irish came to Camden to build a railroad, the Camden and Amboy Line that linked Philadelphia to New York in 1834 and changed the city in a century from a few mudhole lanes of pigs and people into the most dynamic city of its size in the nation. The population, only 1,100 in 1828 when the city was incorporated, swelled to 75,000 by the end of the century. The "coffin ships" of Ireland's desperate famine dumped some of their tired "huddled masses" in New York and many came down to the end of the line, Camden. In time, they got to their feet with pick or potstick, shovel or washboard and took their place in America.

They came together in little clusters of Catholicism to cling to their faith and start a church if they could. They were consistently poor and always powerless, held back, as they were, at the hurting edge of prevailing prejudice. Their church became a haven of respectability, social activity and spiritual support. In and around it, they learned urban survival, urban participation, and ultimately, urban power.

Irishmen in thousands had walked with Washington in the war with the British, giving limb and life in a desperate revolution. They had pranced with him on the Union Jack at Mass in Willings Alley in Philadelphia, when the war was won. Indeed, many of the stripes - by the stars in the new flag - are streams of generous Irish blood.

So, the Fourth of July 1886 was the day! The faith and the flag and the foundation stone of Sacred Heart! The Bishop of Trenton, Limerick-born Michael Joseph O'Farrell with the crozier, and Lynch of New Brunswick with the trowel, and 7,000 people looking on.

The Camden Daily Courier for July 3rd, 1886, headlined the next day's event as, "A cornerstone laying that will attract attention." It did. Three days later, the same paper describes the mighty event:

"The cornerstone of the new church of the Sacred Heart, at Broadway and Ferry Avenue, was dedicated with impressive ceremonies, and no such demonstration of a religious character had ever been seen in this city."

The newspaper added that the church would cost about $16,000 and would most likely be ready for dedication by Christmas, 1886. It was not ready by Christmas, but it was completed shortly afterwards in what was an extraordinary achievement because from the "breaking of the ground" on May 20, 1886, to the breaking of the bread at the dedication Mass on March 6, 1887, was a period of only nine months. However, the reported estimate of $16,000 turned out to be inaccurate because the actual cost of the church and rectory was more than $35,000. An awesome amount when one considers the total Sunday collection of Fr. Lynch's small congregation was $2.50. Two years after the establishment of this beachhead of Irish Catholicism, Fr. Lynch, broken by the burden of heavy debt, had to be removed from Sacred Heart. The task of carrying on the effort fell on the young priest, Maurice Bric, who became pastor of Sacred Heart for 25 years. For 13 of those years, he went on to the highways and byways, five days a week, collecting pennies and nickels from his poor, scattered parishioners to pay the mortgage on Sacred Heart Church.

In 1900, New York Shipyard opened in the shadow of the church and the population increased and the parish prospered. The third pastor, Fr. John McCloskey, burned the mortgage in 1915. He built the school, visited Ireland and gave a parish donation of $1,500 to the Patrick H. Pearse branch of the American Commission for the Relief of Ireland, in 1921. In his words, the donation was "proof of our enthusiasm and willingness to aid our ancestors in the Emerald Isle in their hour of distress."

Times have changed in the Sacred Heart section of Camden. The Irish have long since left the flat roof factory homes of South Camden. But over the years the connection with Ireland has not been severed and Irish priests like James Gaffney, Michael Coyne, Donal Sheehan, and sisters such as Patricia Margaret Foley of Kerry, Agnes Holmes of Mayo, and Marie McGloin of Leitrim have done good work in this parish of Sacred Heart. Present parishioners like Linda Delengowski and Dan Dougherty have worked with Paddy Doherty of Derry and his Youth Project in that special city. Good workers in Sacred Heart today are Paddy Mulligan and Rose Knebles, both of Ireland.

Sacred Heart in 1985 is made up of a coalition of neighborhood people and those who come from near and far to this old church on the corner of Broadway and Ferry. Because injustice is high in the consciousness of those who come, they are often called to pray and work for the people of South Africa, Central America, the North of Ireland and the South of Camden.

The old walls of Sacred Heart have been enhanced by the music of Mick Maloney and Eugene O'Donnel and by the splendid Gaelic singing of Barbara Dever. They have throbbed to the piano playing of James McCafferty of Derry and the golden voice of his daughter, Una. They have braced themselves for the brilliance of a Daniel Berrigan and the eloquence of a John MacNamee, and the charming courage of a Paddy Doherty. But most recently, when Kathleen O'Toole and Kathleen Mauger returned to Sacred Heart with the stump of a Camden candle they had lit on St. Patrick's grave in Downpatrick, the circle of the Irish connection was wonderfully renewed.

lt will undoubtably endure like the Celtic crosses of Clonmacnoise, the brave spirit of Camden's poor and the bright flame of Patrick's Easter fire on Slane. 

Mary Higgins Hampton

"Aunt Mame was the only one who ever loved me." 

"She was a great person."

"I felt that I was at a celebrity's wake."

                                   .... friends and neighbors, on the death of Mary Higgins Hampton 

"It was raining cats and dogs on the day of Mom's funeral. But everyone was there ... her eight children, 15 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren. The cemetery was dark and dreary, but when they laid Mom into the ground, the sun came out. It was as though the heavens opened up to greet Mom."

                                    ... Ruth Oberst 

"Mom" was Ruth Oberst's mother, the Florence Nightingale of 8th and Van Hook, and later of 9th and Division Streets: Mary Higgins Hampton. Mary was born on November 1, 1874, All Saints Day, and on that day her mother died. The baby was placed in an orphanage in Philadelphia near Sts. Peter and Paul parish. When Mary was five years old, Mary and John Higgins "found her." The young couple had just lost their own baby girl, also named Mary. They adopted this new little Mary, closed their saloon in Philadelphia, and moved to 8th and Van Hook Streets, Camden, to start a new life in the "country" with their new little girl.

John Higgins raised chickens and ducks at 8th and Van Hook. He had a house built right next door to the Sacred Heart mission church. John and little Mary would often take eggs to the orphanage in Philadelphia where they had found her. On one of those excursions when Mary was older, she asked her father if she could adopt a baby sister. So Bessie joined the Higgins family as a sister to Mary, but was later formally adopted by her as a daughter when she married.

Those who knew her say patience was one of Mary Higgins' greatest virtues, along with a good sense of humor. Such qualities in young Mary must have caught the eye of Fr. William Lynch, pastor of the Sacred Heart mission church, for when Mary was only 12 years old, and the little church was to close, it was to Mary Higgins that Fr. Lynch gave the old wooden cross for safekeeping.

Mary's love and devotion to her friends and family flourished. She became "Miss Mamie" to a grateful neighbor, and the name remained with her. All the neighborhood children whom she nurtured and loved came to call her Aunt Marne.

Mary Higgins worked at Croft Mills. She and her friends would often go to the dances at Immaculate Conception. Fr. Maurice Brie, Sacred Heart's second pastor, would be waiting to admonish the girls when they returned home to South Camden! Mary was very friendly with Fr. Bric and he was very good to her. Fr. Bric performed the marriage ceremony of Mary Higgins and John Hampton at Sacred Heart Church in 1900 when Mary was 26 years old.

Mary and John raised their family of seven children at 9th and Division Streets. The children, Mary, Merab, John, Joseph, Hannah, Naomi, and Ruth were all baptized by Fr. Bric. When Ruth and Naomi were teenagers, their parents moved the family to Parkside. Mary was dedicated to her family, but she also found time to counselor nurse anyone in need. There was always room for one more. Mary often took in children when their families had troubles, extending to them the love she had for her own.

Although they were poor, Mary and John would pack all the children and go off to their "summer home" in Glendora along the Newton Creek. The children would only use the cabin to eat and sleep! After work, John Hampton would join his family via the railroad's "Peanut Line."

During the 1918 flu epidemic Mary nursed many sick people in the neighborhood. Miraculously, none of her own family ever came down with the flu. Often former children from the neighborhood would return to visit and thank "Aunt Marne." "Mrs. Hampton gave me good advice," was heard more than once.

When Mary Higgins Hampton was about to make her last move - to live with her son John in Haddon Heights - she gave out one more bit of good advice. As she passed the old wooden cross from the mission church of Sacred Heart into the hands of her daughter Ruth, she impressed on her clearly: "Don't ever throw it out."

Ruth heeded her mother's words. She carefully kept the cross, and on the night of Holy Thursday, 1983, 96 years after her mother had received it, Ruth passed it on ... into the hands of John McGuire, who proudly carried the mission church cross down the aisle of the "new" Sacred Heart Church, only a few years short of its first century. 

Ruth Oberst, Mary Hampton's daughter, holds the Sacred Heart Mission Cross.



The second pastor of Sacred Heart, Maurice Bric, served from 1888 to 1913. Born in August, 1859, he grew up in New Haven where his father was superintendent at the Colt Manufacturing Company, the gun-maker. He was ordained on December 19, 1885 and one month later arrived in Camden to be an assistant at Immaculate Conception parish in center city. In December 1888, he moved down Broadway to become pastor of Sacred Heart where, after 25 backbreaking years, he moved farther down Broadway to become pastor of St. Mary's, Gloucester, for 37 years, until his death on July 29, 1950.

Msgr. Edward Lucitt was Bric's assistant. He recalls a poignant moment near the end of Brie's long career that summed up his character.

One day, Bric, 90 years old, tried to lift his leg with his hands over a step on the way to his garage. He wouldn't ask for help. "He got mad and he took his keys and slammed them on the ground and walked slowly into the house and never went out to the car again," Lucitt said. "He felt he was able to take care of himself in any situation, and anybody else who got in his way, he would take care of them too - right up to the end."

Taking care of himself and Sacred Heart wasn't easy when he arrived in 1888 after the first pastor, Fr. William Lynch, gave up with a debt of $35,000 and a weekly collection of $2.50.

To prevent the bank from foreclosing on his beautiful church, Bric, then 29, made week-day collections. "Brie told me," say Lucitt, "that he ... headed out Monday through Friday ... getting two pennies here and a nickel there - all week long," he said.

It was dangerous. "He got shot at and he also shot back," Lucitt said. "A lady showed me a tree on Jasper Street where he shot at a fellow shooting at him ... it was like the wild west."

He had no hall but, says John Lyons, 91 " ... he had one dance outdoors on Church grounds each summer, at which there would be a wheel of fortune - spun for money - or a bag of salt when the police appeared."

In 1900, the New York Shipyard was built in Camden and the enterprising Bric brought people in trainloads from Wilkes-Barre, after a coal strike, to work there. The parish grew. In 1901 Brie was able to end his weekday collections.

By 1908 he had reduced the mortgage to $7,500, got his first assistant, and dared to borrow money to extend the rectory and beautify the church. He added the marble side altars, the onyx and marble altar rail, the splendid oil paintings of gospel scenes on the ceiling, and a $5,000 pipe organ.

On September 25, 1913, with the parish thriving, Bric was sent to St. Mary's. The disappointed people of Sacred Heart "went up in an uproar," says John Lyons. "He was their little God."

While in Gloucester, Brie established the new St. Mary's Cemetery and ran it like a sergeant at a checkpoint.

"For Bric, the law of the church was the law of the church," says Lucitt. "And he was very chary about giving Christian burial. If someone didn't go to communion the previous Easter he wouldn’t allow it." The "apple orchard" along a fence was where he put those who hadn't made their Easter duty.

His exploits as a driver are part of Gloucester folklore. Says Lucitt, "When they put in one-way streets ... whichever way he drove, that was the one-way." When he was caught going through a red light, he told the policeman, "I was driving before they had those things."

It is no surprise that Bric officiated at only three mixed marriages in 60 years, and then only on the Bishop's orders.

Despite his foibles, people loved him. "They were tremendous in the support they gave him," said Lucitl. "At one time his collections were the second highest in the whole Trenton Diocese."

He was very proud of that and hovered over his collections, sitting up in St. Mary's rectory with a shotgun on the window as the money was carried to the bank nearby.

Maurice Bric's ministry was a long haul in a short distance. Sacred Heart salutes his faith and his flaws but above all the fierce fortitude and dogged charity of his long life.


Fr. Bric pictured in front of Sacred Heart's main altar with an early group of altar boys, including Thomas Campbell (2nd row, 3rd from right) and Frank Boyle (lst row, 4th from right), sons of well-known parish families.

"New York Ship"

The launching of the MS Dollar
4, 1901

Sacred Heart Church had stood solidly on the corner of Broadway & Ferry for 14 years when Henry G. Morse of Wilmington, Delaware, opened the New York Shipbuilding Corporation on 160 acres of meadowland a short distance away. The church's financial standing was not so solid, but the new shipyard brought people, jobs, and houses. By 1913 Sacred Heart burned its mortgage.

Morse's dream of building a shipyard in New York became instead the successful "New York Ship" in Camden. From the first keel laid - the MS Dollar on November 29, 1900 - work increased and by 1913, 220 ships of all shapes and sizes had been launched. Morse's early contact with President Theodore Roosevelt initiated a contract with the Navy that was destined to make the Camden yard a colossal defense provider for two World Wars. In six months' time, in 1917, the Navy ordered 30 destroyers.

Suddenly, fields and farms in South Camden became sites of "overnight" housing construction. 

Even the swamps of Liney Ditch were built up by George W. Jessup for shipyard workers, whose number increased from 4,500 to 17,500 of 41 nationalities. Federal funds built Yorkship Village (Fairview) and Morgan Village to house workers. All the streets in Fairview got their names from famous American battleships. After World War I, Sacred Heart procured land in Yorkship Village for a church and named it after the war maiden of Orleans, Joan of Arc.

But without war Camden shipbuilding declined.

The Depression came. Hitler emerged. The destroyer Reuben James, built in Camden, was sunk by German torpedoes in October 1941 with a loss of 100 lives. A clamor for war arose again. Then Pearl Harbor. The shipyard cranked into high gear. By 1943 it produced nine aircraft carriers, sixteen cruisers, and 148 landing craft. Employment rose to 37,000 workers.

Camden's war-work was in use around the world. Even the parts of the first atomic bomb were shipped to Guam on the Camden-built Indianapolis.

World War II ended. The jobs dwindled. By 1950 thousands of laid-off shipyard workers hoped that the Korean War would bring work. It didn't. But in 1955 contracts for the huge aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, the submarine Bonefish, and some guided ­missile destroyers were awarded to Camden. In 1957 the first nuclear-powered cargo and passenger ship, the Savannah, was built here. Nevertheless the end was near. Bad publicity from poor work on the Kitty Hawk and poor leadership hastened the collapse. The last ship was the submarine Pogy and when it "disappeared" in the depths of the Delaware, the fortunes of New York Ship disappeared with it.

Tiedeken Brothers

In 1876 Theodore A. Tiedeken started a small wagon ­repair and blacksmith shop at 425 Van Hook Street, making his home above the shop. He died at an early age, leaving three small children. Young Theodore C. Tiedeken, being the oldest and a fifth grade student at St. Peter & Paul's School, promptly left school to help his mother.

Neither Theodore nor his mother could carry on the blacksmithing, so they turned the shop into a boarding stable from 1892 to 1896. The widow took care of the horses, even to their shoeing, while Theodore and his brother William kept the stalls clean and the carriages shining and in good repair.

Soon they found a blacksmith, and Theodore C. began learning the wagon-building trade, beginning with pushcarts. The first pushcart Theodore built was for Childs' Grocery Store, which today is Acme Markets.  

William Tiedeken, grandson of the first owner and nephew of Theodore C. Tiedeken, tells how the family business was rebuilt. Theodore's brother William was working for Childs' Grocery when that first pushcart was delivered, and Theodore took the occasion to invite his

Theodore C. Tiedeken

younger brother back into the family business. Mr. Childs wanted to keep a good worker in his employ, but commented, "Well, I guess I can't stop two good men getting together." 

In 1896 and again in 1917 the brothers enlarged the shop.

Their customers included prominent Camden businesses such as Campbell Soup and J. B. Van Sciver. Mary Bigley, Theodore C.'s granddaughter, remembers that neighbors would gather at the first sight of Eavenson & Levering's prize-winning Clydesdales, all decked out in their polished brass harness, coming down Van Hook Street held in rein by their driver. With bells jingling and red plumes bobbing, they would back into the shop to pull out another big new shiny red wagon. All the traffic would stop as they made the turn on Van Hook, heading up Fourth Street, just a few blocks from Sacred Heart.

In 1897 the Tiedekens left the German parish of Saints Peter and Paul and joined Sacred Heart.

William Tiedeken was the first sexton of Sacred Heart. During the '20's Theodore was on the church restoration committee, and the brothers donated a beautiful stained-glass window.

Fr. McCloskey baptized most of the 13 Tiedeken children. Today William recalls that McCloskey headed a draft board at Sacred Heart during World War I and "Uncle Theodore" assisted him.

The Tiedeken brothers' business grew and changed with the city of Camden. During the flu epidemic of 1918-19, the shop built caskets and lent wagons to carry bodies to the cemetery. As the time of wagons passed into history, the shop made plans to make auto truck bodies. The forges came down, the huge oven was closed up, and the wagon wheels were stored away. The traffic on the street no longer stopped to let the beautiful Clydesdales make the turn; instead traffic stopped while a brand-new Tiedeken-made Van Sciver or Hurley van made that turn. At one time the shop had the distinction of being the oldest family-owned and family-operated business in the city of Camden.

T. C. Tiedeken retired shortly after the death of his brother in 1941. The business went on under the direction of William's three sons. The family members are now all retired or deceased.

Although the Tiedeken family sold the business in 1981, the Auto Body Shop is still operating at the same location under the original name. Robert Calloway, the great-grandson of Theodore A. Tiedeken, is employed by the present owner - making 110 years of Tiedekens on Van Hook Street. Close to the street they made their mark, the wheels of their wagons and trucks turning in time with a city's fortune. Sacred Heart's history is richer for their industry and participation

Fr. Thomas F. Kirk

Thomas F. Kirk

When Thomas Kirk was a young man growing up in South Camden, the neighborhood certainly looked different than it does today. But one building that still stands the same is Sacred Heart Church. The pastor of this church at the time was Fr. Maurice Bric. Young Thomas was a familiar friend of the parish. As John Lyons, age 91, still an active member of Sacred Heart community says, "That Tommy Kirk was always in the shadow of Fr. Bric."

Now, Thomas was born on August 23, 1893, to Katherine Keating and Thomas Kirk. Other members of the Kirk family were Walter, Julia, Isabella, and Maurice. Walter Kirk was the only soldier killed in action from a group of one hundred and ten boys that Fr. McCloskey, then pastor of Sacred Heart, sent to fulfill the draft call in World War I.  

Thomas Kirk was ordained to the priesthood on May 26, 1923, in St. Mary's Cathedral in Trenton. At his first Mass, June 12, 1923, his pastor, Fr. John McCloskey told the happy congregation, "Today we write a golden page in the history of Sacred Heart parish, for today one of its members ascends the altar of God for the first time, clothed in the vestments of the priesthood."

Fr. Kirk's first assignments were at St. James in Red Bank and St. Rose in Freehold and his first pastorate was at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Mays Landing, beginning in July of 1934. From there he went to serve the people of Berlin, at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. He remained in that parish until he was transferred to St. Mary's in Gloucester in 1953.

There are, indeed, many phases of Fr. Kirk's ministry that merit and deserve recognition, but one that seems worthy to note is his sympathetic understanding of the poor, the sick, and those whose families had been touched by death. He possessed an immense capacity of understanding for those who were in trouble and needed encouragement. He was a man of gentle words and people who remember him think of his famous expression, "tut-tut-tut," used often and with compassion.

Thomas Kirk made his final home in St. Edward's parish, Pine Hill. With all his enthusiasm, he brought this community to a new sense of beginning. During his first year, Fr. Kirk called a meeting of all the people at St. Edward's who were interested in Catholic education.

St. Edward's had no school and children in the parish were not able to get to a neighboring parish's school.) Before the year was out the parish pro­vided the children with transportation to attend surrounding Catholic schools, and the first step was taken toward building a school in Pine Hill. (Interestingly, one of the schools to which St. Edward's children were bused was Fr. Kirk's home parish, Sacred Heart!)

While busy in the midst of his life, dedicated to God and his people, Thomas Kirk died June 1, 1960, at the age of sixty-six. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a kindly priest who loved God and the souls that came his way.

Survived by his sister, Julia, of Camden and also his brother Maurice, Thomas Kirk was buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Berlin.

There he rests, in the cemetery he himself helped to establish, at its highest point, beside the foot of the great cross.  

Reverend Thomas F. Kirk, the first priest ordained from Sacred Heart Parish. 

John Bernard McCloskey

In 1943 an undertaker backed up his hearse to the front door of St. James Rectory in Red Bank, New Jersey, and bore away a precious burden wrapped in a blanket. Hours later, he drove up to a house in Haddon Heights where several strong men lifted it out and carried it into the living room. They placed it in an upright position and unveiled its face. It began to move. It was a grandfather clock.

Msgr. John B. McCloskey knew his time was running out. After 18 years as pastor of St. James, cancer was slowly killing him. So he sent his clock home to his sister before death would take him.

It did on May 8, 1945.  

This great clock, which is still ticking energetically 40 years after his death, measured out the second half of his busy life with beautiful sounds. The people of Holy Spirit in Atlantic City had given it to him, their founding pastor, on his birthday, July 3, 1909. He was 36 then and he had 36 years left to live.  

John Bernard McCloskey was born on Spring Garden Street in Woodstown, New Jersey, in 1873.

He was one of five children of Bernard McCloskey, a tin roofer from Derry, Ireland, and Susan Macintyre of Armagh. Susan was the 17th child of her family, the one whom they selected to go to the United States when her sister, who was booked to travel, suddenly got sick.

Young John was baptized in the little mission church of St. Joseph in Woodstown on July 18, 1873. He attended a one-room school near his home, did clerical studies in St. Bonaventure College, New York, and in 1894 entered St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. Three years later he was ordained by Bishop James MacFaul in Trenton.

His first assignment was at St. Agnes in Atlantic Heights as assistant to Msgr. Thomas A. Roach.

"Most of my time during the summer of 1897 was spent watering the lawn and taking Father Roach's big St. Bernard for a walk," he wrote 40 years later. "However, I learned one great lesson in finance. He taught me how to handle the collection basket with grace, ease and success. I have not relinquished my hold on it since."

His career spanned a time when immigrant Catholics were flooding South Jersey and the need for new churches never abated. McCloskey was well suited to the era. At St. James in Philipsburg, he helped retire an $80,000.00 debt. As the first permanent pastor of St. Augustine in Ocean City, he built a new church and rectory as well as three mission chapels that later became full-fledged parishes of their own. He also bought the land in Wildwood where St. Anne's Church was built.

At St. Anthony's in Hightstown, where he was sent in 1905, he paid off the mortgage. Then in early 1908 he was given the task of starting a new parish in northern Atlantic City. He purchased the site and broke ground for the Church of The Holy Spirit on March 10, and by May 30 Bishop MacFaul was able to lay the cornerstone and dedicate the church for immediate use. In five years he also built a rectory and convent. He spent $95,000, hut $11,000 was still in the treasury when he left for Sacred Heart on September 28, 1913.

He arrived in Camden to find a debt of $17,ddd, but by December, 1915, the parish was solvent for the first time in thirty years. At his first Mass he took up the collection himself, recalls 91-year-old John Lyons, Sacred Heart's oldest actiye parishioner.

From the first days of his twelve year pastorate, Fr. McCloskey began to make his monumental mark on the parish and the city. He founded a conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society that is still active after 73 years. He purchased two row homes on Ferry Avenue for $1,850 which he later extended to become a convent.

He began preparations for building a school, but World War I intervened. The future convent became the third city draft board with Fr. McCloskey as chairman. Determined to prove the patriotism of the new immigrants, he processed 10,000 applicants. He sent 110 young people from the parish into service and 108 returned. On May 31, 1923, he dedicated a new pulpit to the memory of the two who didn't - Howard Cassidy and Walter Kirk.

During the war, 1700 homes were built by the government in the South Camden section called Fairview to house workers in the New York Shipyard. Fr. McCloskey procured a site for a new church, school and convent. When it took too long to finalize the deed, he purchased a poolroom at Collins and Mt. Ephraim Avenue (now Chubby's restaurant) and had Mass there. The new parish was called St. Joan of Arc, after a saint revered by a people who had just won a war.

Foremost in his monumental work at Sacred Heart was the new grammar school. Ground was broken on May 11, 1919, and the cornerstone was laid on July 4th - 33 years to the day after the cornerstone of the church was put in place. On December 28, 1919, on the feast of the Holy Innocents, the school was solemnly blessed with Fr. William Lynch, the first pastor, present. On January 15, 1920, seven Dominican nuns from Newburgh, New York arrived, and four days later the school opened to 580 children.

On June 12, 1922, at the silver jubilee of his ordination at Camden's Towers Theater, he was presented with a gift of $4,200 by Theodore Tiedeken in the name of the parish. Lauding him at this jubilee celebration were many of the most important civic and political leaders in Camden city and county.

But somewhere in the exuberance of jubilee time was the remembrance of a disturbing incident that happened seven months before. It seems that the parishioners had been collecting for some worthy cause at Broadway and Federal Street, near Immaculate Conception. Fr. Fitzgerald of that parish, mistaken about the collection's purpose, called Trenton Bishop Thomas Walsh and the misunderstanding was compounded. Fr. McCloskey threatened to resign and disappeared. His niece, Dorothy Bock, remembers "the bell ringing every 15 minutes in Sacred Heart School and all the children praying for his return." He did return, after being absent for more than a week, during which diocesan officials searched for him. Talking later about the incident, Fr. McCloskey said it "left a scar that will take years to heal."

In his absence, two Camden newspapers, the Daily Courier and the Post Telegram, praised him in editorials which refer to his "patriotic public-spirited and humanitarian services," and his willingness to "give of his time and energy to building a greater Camden." He was the head of the Housing Commission during the war and chairman of the Landlords and Tenants Committee probing unfair rents. He set up the South Camden Trust Company near the church. In 1915 he was a member of the first delegation to go to Washington to promote a project which eventually led to the building of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. He was on the Board of Censors for movies and other entertainments, and also on the Board of Directors of the Camden County Tuberculosis Society.

There was something larger than life about this "brick and mortar" priest who wielded trowels and collection baskets with such ease and success and who bounded around Camden with such power and enthusiasm. And yet according to his niece Dorothy, "he was a very homey person who loved his family. He loved dinners and gatherings." She said sometimes for family christenings or weddings he would invite many friends - alarming his relatives - but then would arrive with the food and lead a festive party.

In October 1925 Fr. McCloskey left Sacred Heart to become pastor of St. James in Red Bank. The old clock was wrapped again for the road. The parishioners gave him a gift of $3,000. A large and saddened crowd gathered on Jasper Street for his departure and an escort of 130 people in many cars went with him, stopped at the American House in Freehold for chicken dinner, and led him to his new assignment.

Soon his grandfather clock started ticking again for a twenty-year span in Red Bank and Fr. McCloskey was off and running in the final lap of his life. By 1927 he had completed a new Catholic high school at a cost of more than $250,000. He built a new rectory and enlarged the old one for a convent. He bought additional acres and enlarged the parish's Mt. Olivet Cemetery. He erected a new temporary grammar school when the combined high school and grammar school became overcrowded. In 1939 he was named a Domestic Prelate with the title of Monsignor.

Four years later Msgr. McCloskey, stricken with cancer of the liver, hired a hearse to have his clock hauled away. On May 8, 1945, he died in the St. James rectory and was buried in Mt. Olivet.

John Bernard McCloskey's time is no longer measured, but he left his mark on ours. Much like his old grandfather clock, he worked continuously and let us know he was there ... with charming sounds and chimes as his time went by.  

A New School  

Fr. John B. McCloskey (with shovel) and Monsignor Bernard J. Mulligan from Immaculate Conception Cathedral lead an enthusiastic throng of parishioners, dignitaries, and well-wishers in breaking ground for Sacred Heart School May 11, 1919.  

Camden Courier-Post - June 2, 1932

Mary W. Kobus - Holy Name Roman Catholic Church - Church of the Sacred Heart
Ss. Peter and Paul's Roman Catholic Church - Church of the Immaculate Conception

Camden Courier-Post * June 8, 1932

Camden Courier-Post * June 8, 1932

Camden Courier-Post * June 16, 1933

Communion Breakfast Will Be Served Graduates After Mass

Sacred Heart parochial school, Broadway and Ferry Avenue, will hold commencement exercises Sunday night at the Sacred Heart Church. Prizes donated by the Parent-Teacher Association will be given to honor students.

Communion breakfast will be served to graduates after the 9 o'clock mass Sunday morning, with the Rev. Peter Kelly.

The graduates: George Anderson, John Bittman, Elbert Butler, Claire Cline, Mildred Cole, Thomas Cole, Catherine Conlin, Mary Corbett, Evelyn Costello, Mary Daley, Antionette Di Camillo, Herman Di Camillo, Mary Degemis, Alice Fiedler, Daniel Fitzpatrick, Eleanor Francy. 

Joseph Gavrantck, Irene Hancharuk, Anna Harmick, William Higgins, Catherine Hubert, Margaret Huntley, James Jacob, Marcella Koch, Helen Kowchik, Elizabeth Kush. 

Anthony Leszczkowskl, Ella Levins, Marie Mazur, John McAnany, Mary McNamara, James McNamara, Daniel McNutt, Magdelena Meade, John Mihaich, Eleanor Moser, Helen O'Connell, Rita Reuling, Stephan Rubino, Louise Russian. 

Clara Sadowski, Anthony Scarduzio, Agnes Scholtz, Colette Smith, Margaret Smith, John Waterhouse, Charles Waters, Rosalie Weiss and Veronica Washnak. 

In the commercial class are Anna Anderson, Mary Conner, Mary Gettinger, Mary Harmick, Anna Lanni, Anna Salkauski, Elizabeth Schmitt, Barbara Sienski, Francis Visgil and Elizabeth Beck. 

Camden Courier-Post * June 19, 1933

Parochial School at Ferry Avenue and Broadway Has Commencement

A class of 59 students, 49 in the eighth grade and ten in the commercial department, were graduated last night from Sacred Heart Parochial School at commencement exercises at the parish house, Broadway and Ferry Avenue

A communion breakfast was served the class after the 9 o'clock mass yesterday morning. The address to the graduates was made by Rev. Joseph Sutliff, of Runnemede. Others participating in the commencement program were Rev. Peter J. Kelley, rector, 
and Rev. John Thompson, of Sacred Heart Church; Rev. Joseph V. Mc Corristin, of St. Joan of Arc Church, and Rev. Joseph McGrath, of Atlantic Highlands.

Prize winners follow: 

Elizabeth, Zeck, for general excellence in commercial class, donated by Father Kelley; Stephen Rubino and Mary Daley, for general excellence in the eighth grade, donated by Father Kelley; John Waterhouse and Agnes Scholtz, for application in eighth grade, donated by Parent­Teacher Association; Elbert Butler and Ella Levins, for Christian doctrine in eighth grade, donated by Mrs. Jules Thebaud: Margaret Huntley, for English in eighth grade, donated by Mrs. Charles Wade. Other prizes for general excellence, donated by Father Kelley, were won by Francis Hoffnauer, Mary Alice Herman, Rita 
Maloney and William Kries, seventh grade; Rose Gifford, Albert Scarduzio, Elizabeth Carr and William Smerhovsky, sixth grade.

Camden Courier-Post * June 26, 1933


The closing meeting of the Parent-­Teacher Association of Sacred Heart School will be held in the assembly hall, Broadway and Ferry Avenue, to morrow evening. Mrs. Frank Kelley, president, will be in the chair. Final plans will be made for a cake sale to be held Saturday afternoon and evening at 1809 Broadway.

Excerpted from the
Camden Courier-Post * June 1, 1939

Campbell's Soup Wins Slugfest from 12th Ward, 12 to 8
Victory Gives 'Soupmen' Deadlock for Sunberth

St. Joe's Routs Polish, 13-1 as Walker Robins Trounce Sacred Heart

American Division
W L P.C.
Collegians 5 1 .833
Campbell's Soup 5 1 .833
St. Joseph's Polish 4 2 .667
Victor 3 3 .500
Twelfth Ward 2 5 .286
Polish A.C.C. 0 6 .000
National Division
Defiance 6 0 1.000
Walker Robins 4 2 .667
Lincoln 3 3 .500
St. Joan of Arc 2 4 .333
Sacred Heart 2 5 .286
Eleventh Ward 0 6 .000

Outslugging Twelfth Ward, Campbell’s Soup went into a tie for first place in the American Division of the Kobus Twilight League when it defeated the "Warders" 12 to 8 at Dudley Grange Park in one of four games played last night.

In another American Division tussle, St. Joseph's Polish soundly trounced the Polish American Citizens Club, 13 to 1 at Broadway and Everett street.

In a pair of National Division tussles, the Walker Robins gained a firmer grip on second place when it whipped Sacred Heart at the Fairview Ball Park, 13 to 1 and Lincoln took the measure of St. Joan of Arc at Seventh and Jefferson by the score of 5 to 1.

Pitchers in the Campbell's-Twelfth Ward fracas took a beating with the "Soupmen" collecting 13 blows off Mike Huggard and Martin, while the "Warders" slapped Norm Young for 11 safeties.

Campbell's lost no time in putting the game away, tallying seven runs in the first inning and then added one in the third and two in the fourth to clinch the verdict. The "Warders" tried hard to overcome the lead and in the sixth session put on a rally which netted five runs.

Gresk was the hitting star for Campell’s, rapping a pair of singles and a home run, while Herb Dunn sparkled at the plate for the Warders with three for four.

The Polish-Americans were no match for St. Joe's Polish, Jim Stubbs setting down the former outfit without much trouble, giving up but six hits. St. Joe's on the other hand rapped T. Martin and Huston for 19 wallops with Stubbs and Gray pacing the offense, each getting four hits. Walt Nowak also hit hard, getting three for four. Galecki was the only Polish-American who could solve Stubb's offerings, smacking three singles.

The Walker Robins also had little difficulty with Sacred Heart, scoring in each of the six innings with the exception of the fourth. Carpenter worked on the hill for the Robins and set down his foe with only two hits, while his mates clubbed Phillips, Rudolph and Savich for 11 bingles. Warren, Jones and Carpenter led the attack with two hits apiece. Sacred Heart's lone run came on a homer by Cianfrani in the second inning.

Two runs in the first and three in the eighth spelled victory for Lincoln over St. Joan of Arc. Schoekolf went the route for Lincoln and spaced out eight hits, the Saints' lone run coming in the third on a homer by Gondolf. Lincoln collected eight hits off Franks and Collins with Lyback and J. Schramm each getting two.

ab r h o a    ab r h o a
Webster 2b 5 1 1 0 0 Scarduzio    ss 3 0 0 1 2
Douty lf 3 2 0 0 0 Del Rossi 3b 3 0 0 1 0
Wynn c 3 0 1 10 0 Carr'o 2b 3 0 0 1 4
Faulks 1b 2 2 1 5 1 Cianfrani c 2 1 1 3 0
Phillips rf 2 1 1 2 0 Rough 1b 3 0 1 3 0
Warren 3b 4 1 2 1 0 Kries cf 2 0 0 0 0
Jones cf 2 2 2 0 0 Higgins lf 1 0 0 3 0
Fullaro ss 2 2 1 0 4 Flacco rf 0 0 0 3 0
Carpenter   p 3 2 2 0 5 Phillips p 2 0 0 3 1
Rudolph p 1 0 0 0 2
Savich p 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 26 12 11 18 10 Totals 20 1 2 18 10
WALKER ROBINS 1 4 3 0 5 1 13
SACRED HEART 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Two-base hits


Three-base hits

Carpenter, Warren

Home run


Sacred Heart School Band - 1950s
Click on Image to Enlarge
Photo courtesy of Tina Petreshock

On April 4, 2008 Bishop Galante announced the following changes which affected churches in Camden and Pennsauken. The changes, taken from the text of the bishop's speech, are as follows:

* Merge the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Camden), Holy Name (Camden) and Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Fatima (Camden), with the primary worship site at the Cathedral and a secondary worship site at Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Fatima.

* Merge St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral (Camden), St. Cecilia (Pennsauken) and St. Veronica (Delair), with the worship site at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral.

* Merge St. Joan of Arc (Camden) and St. Bartholomew (Camden) with the worship site at St. Joan of Arc.

* Cluster the new parish at St. Joan of Arc (Camden) with Sacred Heart (Camden).

* St. Anthony of Padua (Camden) and St. Joseph Polish (Camden) will remain as stand-alone parishes.