Infant Jesus Parish
(856) 848-0047

St. Margaret Church History

St. Margaret Church History

Father McKeever

Father McKeever

Never was the need for a new parish more sorely felt in the Woodbury area than in the late 1950’s. Many new housing developments were being completed and a large percentage of these new Gloucester County residents were Catholic. It was decided that the existing facilities of St. Patrick’s Parish in Woodbury and the Church of The Incarnation in Mantua could not absorb the influx. Since property had been purchased in Woodbury Heights, in parish, the Church of St. Margaret Mary, was conceived, and formally incorporated on January 21, 1960. The first trustees were Michael Reitenberger and William Murphy. Mr. Murphy remains a trustee to this day, joined now by Jack Kinnarney.

The parish of St. Margaret Mary was established on June 10, 1961, by order of His Excellency, Archbishop Celestine J. Damiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Camden.

There came to the parish in that first year a man all would come to know well, respect, and love over the course of his twelve-year pastorate. This was Father William L. McKeever, St. Margaret’s first pastor.

Those first years at St. Margaret’s were interesting ones indeed. When the parish was first established, temporary arrangements were made to hold Mass on Sundays in the Wood Theatre in Woodbury. After six months, however, these facilities were no longer available. Through the kindness of Monsignor Paul Fairbrother, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church, Mass was then held for the parishioners in the cafeteria of St. Patrick’s School in Woodbury.

In December, 1961, the present rectory on Beech Avenue was purchased. With the help of the men of the parish, a two-car garage was converted into a chapel where morning Mass could be celebrated. Many of the furnishings in the rectory were acquired with stamp books which were contributed by members of the Parish.

Ground breaking ceremony

Ground breaking ceremony

In June of 1962 groundbreaking took place for the construction of the first building of the parish complex. This building was to consist of a multi-purpose hall and eight classrooms. Less than a year later, the work had been completed.

On Saturday night, February 18, 1963, the first parish social was held in the new hall. A benefit performance was given by the Woodbury Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. No sidewalks had as yet been constructed and wooden planks were laid in the mud to gain access to the new building.