LITTLE FALLS, N.J. — The Franciscan history of Our Lady of the Holy Angels Parish here was described in a commentary by Msgr. Raymond Kupke in the May 8 issue of The Beacon, the publication of the diocese of Paterson, N.J. Its theme was the many vibrant connections between the parish and the friars.
In his piece, titled “A Glance at the Past: The Franciscans and Little Falls,” Msgr. Kupke, Paterson diocesan archivist, tells of the 125 years of Franciscan presence, relating details of significant events and friars who made a difference.
The writer describes Francis Koch, OFM, who “led the original band of refugee friars to America in 1875 and established the Holy Angels Church in 1883.” Francis, the first pastor, from 1883 to 1887, was followed by other notable pastors.
• Denis Schuler, OFM, who combined pastoral activities with the roles of superior and novice master at the monastery in nearby Paterson. He served from 1888 to 1893. He later became General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor.
• Leo Heinrichs, OFM, who brought sisters to Little Falls to teach religion, and was pastor from 1897 to 1902.
• Giles Lawlor, OFM, who established and made popular the “Our Lady of the Highway” devotion, based on the Marian feast day Santa Maria della Strada. He served 1932 to 1945.
• Theophane Leary, OFM, who supervised the building of a new church in 1953.
• Jerome Gallagher, OFM, who served as pastor when the new church was dedicated. His term was 1954 to 1961.
• Reginald Redlon, OFM, who was pastor after serving as president of St. Bonaventure University.
• Robert Sandoz, OFM, current pastor, has served since 1999.
Msgr. Kupke writes: “The Franciscan presence will continue in the church’s name and architecture, but even more, in the faith and charism the sons of St. Francis have implanted in the community by their life, preaching and witness.”
Holy Angels parish will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a dinner on May 31. Holy Name Province announced in February that it will transfer administration of the parish to the diocese this summer.