Parish History

A short history of St. Virgilius Parish since 1881: Shown to the right is one of the historic pictures of St. Virgil´s Parish which appeared in our centennial book, The Story of a People, published in 1981.

A growing number of Catholics in the Morris Plains area in the 1870s created a need for St. Virgil´s Parish. Rev. Joseph M. Flynn´s November 14, 1881 letter to the Rev. Winard Wigger, Bishop of Newark, resulted in founding of a new parish in Morris Plains.

The dirt roads of Speedwell & Hanover Avenues intersect at Five corners in this circa 1890 photo of the original St. Virgilius Church, which had been moved down Hanover Ave. to the new location in 1888.

The dirt roads of Speedwell & Hanover Avenues intersect at Five corners in this circa 1890 photo of the original St. Virgilius Church, which had been moved down Hanover Ave. to the new location in 1888.

The first Mass was celebrated at the home of Andrew Murphy on Christmas Day, and the first church was a tent at 48 West Hanover Avenue. Rev. James J. Brennan was appointed pastor and October 11, 1882, Bishop Wigger laid the cornerstone for the new church to be built. Fr. Brennan placed the new parish under the protection of St. Virgilius, an Irish monk who became the Archbishop of Salzburg. The church was moved to its present location in 1888.

Again, population expansion demanded changes. The four room school, founded in 1910, was replaced in 1949, and the little church was razed to make room for the present building in 1955. St. Virgil´s enjoys a wonderful past, but the words printed for the 25th anniversary should be remembered: May the brightness of the Present be Eclipsed only by the Luster of the Future.

(Written and researched by Daniel Myers, Morris Plains Historian)