St. James Church
In March 1919, Father Hugh L. Massey was appointed Pastor of Saint James Parish, and became the first resident priest in Penns Grove. Shortly
afterward, Father Joseph F. Parker was assigned to assist Father Massey. At this time, there were approximately 360 Catholic families in Penns Grove
and the adjacent Townships of Upper Penns Neck, Oldmans and Pennsville.
With these priests, the Parish undertook the task of erecting a combination church and school building on a lot at Beach Avenue and state Street. Prior to
this, Saint James Church was located in a frame building located on north Broad Street. After the church re-located to the Beach Avenue and State Street
site, the frame building was torn down. A synagogue was erected in its place. Today the building is now home to a Christian Church.
The building lot on Beach and State cost $4,500 and the contract for the building was $75,000. Ground for the building was broken on June 1, 1920 by
Joseph Crean, grandson of Jeremiah, head of Penns Grove’s first Catholic family. The successful “Drive” for $60,000 to finance the venture was lead by F.
J. O’Connor as chairman, with F.X. Donohue as secretary. The Most Reverend Thomas J. Walsh, Bishop of Trenton Diocese, of which St. James Parish
was then a part, laid the cornerstone on July 25, and the school was opened on January 3, 1921.
This year, 1995 marks the 75th anniversary of the building of Saint James Church and School on Beach and State in Penns Grove.