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First BCEF Call of 2023: St. Anthony of Padua, Hackensack


The Bishop’s Church Emergency Fund (BCEF) provides financial support for church buildings in the diocese needing repairs and renovation, usually with a special focus on emergency and unforeseen needs. Through the BCEF, you can support the critical needs identified by the Bishop.

The first BCEF call of 2023 is for a stove exhaust hood for St. Anthony of Padua in Hackensack. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to Diocese of Newark with BCEF Call #1 in the memo line to: Diocese of Newark, Attn: BCEF, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.

St. Anthony of Padua Episcopal Church is named in honor of the 13th century Franciscan saint who was born in Portugal but died in Padua, Italy. The church is a lovely Gothic-style brick building, construction of which began in 1916 in a quiet residential neighborhood of Hackensack. An Anglo-Catholic parish, St. Anthony’s life is centered in sacramental worship.

The Rev. Brian H. Laffler, SSC has served St. Anthony’s as rector for 33 years. A 1987 graduate of General Seminary, Father Laffler is a member of the international Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) and also serves a chaplain to the local fire department. He believes the hallmarks of St. Anthony’s are its Catholic heritage, its strong commitment to the ministry of healing, and its longtime support of programs aimed at serving the parish’s many children and teenagers.

St. Anthony’s has an unusual history. In 1914, Roman Catholic immigrants from Italy took the initiative to found a church in their neighborhood—without, however, first obtaining the approval of the Archdiocese. The parish’s first pastor was actually suspended for steadfastly continuing to minister to the congregation against the wishes of his superiors. After years of dissention, the situation came to the attention of the Bishop Wilson R. Stearly of the Episcopal diocese, who appointed an Episcopal priest to see what might be done. At the parish’s request following a trial period under the new leadership, the entire congregation was received into the Episcopal Diocese of Newark on August 6, 1925.

Now nearly a century later, St. Anthony’s continues to be a vibrant parish, more than 80% of whose members are Hispanic. In addition to three Masses on Sunday and two on Saturday night, there are also celebrations of the Eucharist on each weekday. In addition to those in English, Masses are celebrated in Spanish and Italian, both being languages in which Father Laffler is fluent. During Lent, St. Anthony’s has an ongoing discussion group for adults, an Alpha class to help prepare teens for confirmation, and a First Communion class for young children. Banquets and special events are an important part of parish life, including an upcoming “Festa Italiano” featuring a variety of pasta dishes and homemade baked goods.

Reflecting its catholic heritage, St. Anthony’s nave and sanctuary are traditionally appointed and beautifully maintained, but its parish hall and kitchen, so important to parish life, have been in serious need of repair. Work to repair water damage in the parish hall due to flooding has largely been completed, but fire regulations require an exhaust hood be installed over the kitchen stove. The parish located a hood at no cost in a building slated for demolition, and a parishioner contributed the cost of the required ductwork. Because they have undertaken so much of this work on their own, I hope you will be especially generous as we seek to help St. Anthony’s with the remaining $5,000 of expenses required to make the new system fully operational.

God's peace,

+Carlye J. Hughes

The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop of Newark