St. Catharine’s was first established as a parish in 1878 when Bishop Michael A. Corrigan of Newark sent 26 year old Fr. M. M. Glennon to minister to a few dozen Catholics in an area called Morrisville, New Jersey.
In February, 1879 Fr. Glennon started building the original St. Catharine’s Church on a one-quarter acre of land adjacent to what is now Everett and Stillwell Roads in Holmdel.
St. Catharine’s remained an independent parish until February 6, 1880 when Fr. Glennon was transferred to Holy Spirit Church in Asbury Park. Still under Fr. Glennon’s care, St. Catharine’s became a mission of Holy Spirit. On June 1, 1883 the care of the mission Church of St. Catharine was transferred to St. Mary’s Church, New Monmouth. In August of 1885, six years after its dedication, the Church of St. Catharine became a mission of the Church of St. Gabriel, which was located in the area known as Bradevelt (now Marlboro). This mission arrangement was destined to continue for the next ninety-six years, with both parishes being shepherded by a long line of dedicated pastors.
There was very little increase in the population of St. Catharine parish during subsequent years; in fact, when St. Leo Church was established in Lincroft in 1958, St. Catharine’s membership actually dwindled to twenty-one families.
In 1966 Fr. James T. Connell was installed in October of that year as pastor of both St. Gabriel’s Church and St. Catharine Church. Under his aegis both parishes began to grow in population and diversified ministries.
In 1968 Fr. Eugene R. Scheg, Chaplain at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, began to assist Fr. Connell at St. Catharine and St. Gabriel. On December 1 of that year, Fr. Connell celebrated the last Mass in the old St. Catharine Church. Although the original Church still stands on Stillwell Road, it is now a museum and also serves as the headquarters for the Holmdel Historical Society.
On October 4, 1970 Fr. Connell and Fr. Scheg conducted the groundbreaking ceremonies for a new Church of St. Catharine on a parcel of land known as the Rowe tract, located between Middletown Road and Crawfords Corner Road. The first Mass was celebrated in the Church on September 4, 1971. Solemn dedication took place on May 6, 1973 with George W. Ahr, Bishop of Trenton, as celebrant. And St. Catharine Church continued to grow.
On May 16, 1981 John Flanagan, the first Permanent Deacon of the Church of St. Catharine, was ordained in Trenton by Bishop John C. Reiss.
In October of 1982 Fr. Scheg, Associate Pastor, was installed as Pastor, bringing to a close ninety-six years of St. Catharine’s as a mission, and re-establishing the Church of St. Catharine as an independent parish.
As the parish membership continued to increase, Fr. Scheg initiated a building fund campaign in 1983 to construct the third Church of St. Catharine. Failing health prevented Fr. Scheg from seeing his dream realized; he died on November 13, 1984.
On January 20, 1985 Fr. Eugene M. Rebeck was installed as the twenty-fifth pastor of St. Catharine. One of Fr. Rebeck’s first tasks was to continue the building fund campaign and complete the plans for the new Church.
On December 1, 1985 Fr. Rebeck, along with many of the children of the parish, broke ground at the proposed building site, adjacent to the second St. Catharine.
In April 1987 Fr. Eugene M. Rebeck celebrated the first Mass in the new Church of St. Catharine. On April 25, 1987 John C. Reiss, Bishop of Trenton, conducted the solemn blessing and dedication of the new Church.
As the parish began to rapidly grow there was a need to construct an Education wing for the increasing number of children in our Religious Education Program. On September 17, 1995 Bishop Reiss dedicated this new wing which houses not just our Religious Education program but also our Preschool and all the other parish activities.
On July 1, 2013, Msgr. Gregory D. Vaughan became the twenty-sixth pastor of the Church of St. Catharine.
Over the years our parish has grown not only in population but in our Christian faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. We worship together, we serve the needs of the less fortunate and we form a vibrant community. We try to express our faith community in the words of the prophet Micah. “This is what God asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)