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Diocese History


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A glass factory, established in 1740 on Alloway Creek in Salem County, was the nucleus for four families who became New Jersey’s first regular Catholic mission center. Three years later was the first recorded Baptism.

Catholics who lived in New Jersey were the responsibility of the Diocese of Baltimore until 1808 when South Jersey passed under the authority of the new Bishop of Philadelphia.  Bishop Francis Kenrick dedicated the St. Mary’s Church in Pleasant Mills on August 15, 1830, the fourth Catholic church in New Jersey and the first in the present-day Diocese of Camden.  The first parish and school were established at St. Mary’s, Gloucester in 1849 and 1859, respectively.

In 1853 the Archdiocese of Newark was created.  Catholics in the area remained under the care of the Archdiocese of Newark until 1881 when the Diocese of Trenton was established.

With continued growth in the Catholic population during the first decades of this century, Pope Pius XI on December 9, 1937 established the Diocese of Camden for the people of the six southern-most counties of New Jersey, a region containing nearly 2,700 square miles. This also marked the time that New Jersey, previously part of the ecclesiastical province of New York, became a separate province, with the metropolitan see at Newark.