The parish community of St. Rose of Lima has been an integral part of the tapestry of life in Freehold, New Jersey for over a century. In 1850, Rev. John Scollard of St. Paul Church, Princeton, found his way to Freehold over rough roads marked only by landmarks. Land was purchased on the corner of McLean and Randolph Streets, where a small frame church was built. The zealous priests of Princeton served this congregation until 1871. The seeds of their missionary work flourished for many years.
On January 9, 1871, the Bishop of Newark appointed Rev. Frederick Kivelitz as the first pastor. At that time the parish encompassed 225 square miles, which included Jamesburg, Bradevelt, Colts Neck, Farmingdale, Manalapan, Perrineville, Marlboro, Englishtown, Lakewood and Hightstown. Father Kivelitz purchased a house from money raised by house collections. This was the rectory from where he traveled twenty miles a day by horseback or carriage ministering to the people and spreading the spirit of Catholicism. Eventually, each of these areas established their own parish.
The parish was just four years old when a one-story school building was purchased and moved to the church property on Randolph Street. It opened in 1875 with sixty children and one teacher. The following year a second floor was added to serve as a convent, this was the first parochial school in Monmouth County. In 1878, the Sisters of St. Francis began their ministry of education, which continues to this day. By 1907 the enrollment had outgrown the three room school house and the church purchased the property situated on the northern side of McLean Street from T.E. Taylor for a price of fourteen-hundred dollars. The school building with an assemby hall on the first floor was erected at a cost of twenty-six thousand dollars. The average attendance at that time was about one-hundred twenty-five students. Many of the students were from the sorrounding farms and the attendance often incre aed when the farm work was done. As the enrollment increased the assembly room had two classrooms taken from it to augment the four large classrooms on the second floor.
By 1935 the enrollment had increased to two-hundred forty students, and the faculty numbered six Sisters. The school continued to grow as did the population of the area which it served.
Title was aquired in 1950 to the former Military School on the corner of South Street and Lincoln Place as well as the Ball Field on the south side of Lincoln Place. On November 15, 1956 Rev. John A Kucker presided at ceremonies in the church which opened the campaign for funds to build the two story thirteen classroom, parish school on Lincoln Place. Each years additional classrooms were opened to accomodate the ever increasing number of children. In 1964 the decision was made to add twelve classrooms, a gymnasium-auditorium, and a library facility. Shortly after the new wing opened the faculty number eighteen with a students enrollment of nine-hundred and five students.
We now worship in the Church whose cornerstone was laid on September 11,1881 by the Bishop-elect of Trenton. The Trenton Diocese had just been formed on August 11, 1881. The church cornerstone was blessed under the invocation of St. Rose of Lima, the first canonized saint of the western Hemisphere and Patroness of the Americas. On May 5, 1905, the dedication of the bell tower impressively celebrated the visitation of The Most Rev. James A. McFaul, Bishop of Trenton. The largest bell was dedicated to the Triune God, the second to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the third to St. Joseph and the fourth to St. Rose of Lima.
Saint Rose of Lima Parish Patroness
Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617), Patroness of the Americas, is the first canonized saint of the New World. She was the tenth of thirteen children, and her mother experienced no pain at her birth. Though exquisitely beautiful (hence her nickname, Rose), she refused to marry, and while helping support her family by needlework and growing flowers, she practiced heroic charity and lived as a Dominican Tertiary in her parents’ home. Rose tenderly cared for the sick, even those with repulsive wounds, and she often obtained miraculous cures for people from the Child Jesus. On other occasions, she worked miracles in order to feed the members of her family and became known as “Mother of the Poor.”
Rose continually prayed and offered her sufferings for the conversion of the idolatrous Incas. In 1615, through her prayers, the Blessed Sacrament and the people of Lima were spared attack by savage pirates. St. Rose was a friend and confidant of St. Martin de Porres, who lived in the same city. Her mystical experiences caused an ecclesiastical inquiry.
Though she died at only 31, St. Rose’s love of God was so intense that she was recognized as a saint in her own time and was canonized by the Church just 54 years later in 1671. Saint Rose of Lima has captured the imagination of the world and stands as one of the most popular saints in the history of the Church.
Sister Mary Alphonsus, O.SS.R