- Saint MONICA -
This Church bears a proud name – Monica. We all know how instrumental the tears and the prayers of Monica were in calling her son Augustine back to the way of the Lord. In a very real sense, you, the people of the Parish, are the children of Monica also. With this in mind, we can speak to Mother Monica through the following prayer:
Saint Monica, you know the struggle of those who seek to live by faith. By your example and prayers, you led your husband and your son into the way of faith. The difficulties of life did not diminish your confidence in God or your prayer. Pray for me and for all whose faith is tested that we may trust in God and not be overwhelmed or discouraged by life’s bruises but may live in faith and proclaim your generous love in word and deed. Amen.
A Brief History of Saint Monica’s Parish…
The Parish now known as Saint Monica’s was begun in 1870, when Augustinian priests from Villanova first traveled to the Village of Berwyn to say Mass for local Catholics. At that time, Masses were held in private homes and in the town hall.
The first church building was constructed in 1889 and was placed under the patronage of Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine. Dedicated on July 23, 1893, the new structure was designated a mission of Saint Katherine of Siena Parish, Wayne. With the appointment of its first resident pastor, Father Hugh J. Dugan, Saint Monica was made a Parish of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1897.
The original church building was destroyed by fire on May 22, 1991. Under the leadership of Pastor Emeritus, Reverend George G. Hagenbach, a massive rebuilding effort took shape. Through the generosity of many parishioners and friends, a new Church rose from the ashes. It was accompanied by a new Parish Center, Gymnasium and Meeting Center. On September 12, 1993, His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua dedicated the facilities. The new Church is adorned by a beautiful stained-glass rendering of Saint Monica, one of the few items to survive the devastating blaze.
The Church of Saint Monica continues to thrive under its Eleventh Pastor, the Reverend William A. Trader. In Autumn 2005, a major renovation of the Parish Education Center was completed, significantly enhancing the Church’s ability to serve parishioners and members of the broader community.
Pastors of Saint Monica Parish
Rev. Hugh Dugan (1897 – 1906)
Rev. John C. Carey (1906 – 1939)
Rev. Dr. Adrian J. Kilker (1939-1944)
Rev. John L. Gallagher (1945 – 1956)
Rev. John J. Driscoll, D.D. (1957-1968)
Rev. Charles G. McAleer (1968-1969)
Msgr. John G. McFadden (1969-1970)
Rev. John J. Carroll (1970-1974)
Rev. Joseph J. Dawson (1974-1982)
Rev. George G. Hagenbach (1982-2001)
Rev. William A. Trader (2001 – Present)
About Our Patron Saint…
Saint Monica was married by arrangement to a pagan official in North Africa, who was much older than she, and although generous, was also violent tempered. His mother lived with them and was equally difficult, which proved a constant challenge to Saint Monica. She had three children: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Through her patience and prayers, she was able to convert her husband and his mother to the Catholic faith in 370. Her husband died a year later. Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious Life. Saint Augustine was much more difficult, as she had to pray for him for 17 years, begging the prayers of priests who, for a while, tried to avoid her because of her persistence at this seemingly hopeless endeavor. One priest did console her by saying, “it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” This thought, coupled with a vision that she had received strengthened her. Saint Augustine was baptized by Saint Ambrose in 387. Saint Monica died later that same year, on the way back to Africa from Rome in the Italian town of Ostia. Saint Monica is the patroness of Married Women.