– 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…
Saint Monica Church in Berwyn actually dates from 1870 when Augustinian priests traveled here from Villanova to say Mass for the Catholics in the area. The earliest liturgies were celebrated in people’s homes and then in the Town Hall.
The first church was built in 1889, on land purchased for $2,800, and was placed under the patronage of Saint Monica, the courageous and faith-filled mother of Saint Augustine. After construction on an elevated site in the central portion of the Village of Berwyn, the church was dedicated on July 23, 1893. Two years later, it was designated as a mission church, then ultimately received full parish status in 1897. Father Hugh J. Dugan was the first resident pastor.
Over the years, both Saint Norbert’s and Saint Isaac Jogues’ Parishes were created from Saint Monica’s.
The original church was destroyed by fire on May 22, 1991, leaving only a few precious items to be salvaged, including the stained glass window of Saint Monica, which graces our narthex today. Our beautiful stained glass windows, the Stations of the Cross and much of the millwork were obtained from the closed Corpus Christi Parish in north Philadelphia. The bell from the steeple of the original church stands outside the new church, along with the original cornerstone.
Thanks to the leadership of Pastor Emeritus Reverend George G. Hagenbach (deceased) and the generosity and dedication of the parishioner and friends of Saint Monica Parish, our new church rose from the ashes, along with a new Parish Center gymnasium and meeting center. On September 12, 1993, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua dedicated the new facilities.
Today, Saint Monica’s is a growing, thriving, energetic parish under the leadership of the Reverend Charles Zlock, the 12th pastor who arrived in 2013.
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) (deceased)
Rev. William A. Trader (2001 – 2013)
Rev. Charles Zlock (2013 – 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.