About Saint Peter Parish
We, the parishioners of Saint Peter Church, a community of faithful believers, possess a profound, reverential love for our Roman Catholic faith, as expressed through the Magisterium of the Church. Nourished by the Word of God and the frequent reception of the Sacraments, we draw strength from our devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament, evident in Perpetual Adoration, and our filial love for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We believe in the ultimate law of Christ to love one another as Christ has loved us. We accept Christ's challenge to go out and spread the Gospel to all nations. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we strive to live out both commands by helping those in need through our various charitable outreach programs and our individual examples.
For over 100 years, Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church has been meeting the spiritual needs of the Catholic Faithful living in Merchantville, Pennsauken, and throughout South Jersey and Philadelphia.
While Saint Peter's would be founded on September 29, 1903, its roots can be traced back to the 1850s, when Philadelphia merchant Patrick Cunningham purchased 48 acres of land in Merchantville, NJ. Patrick's descendants, Peter and Francis, worked to have a Catholic mission established there.
Francis Cunningham, partnering with John J. Burleigh, a devout man who worked to finance the relocation of urban, middle-class Catholics to Merchantville, formed a committee and presented their request to Bishop James A. McFaul of the Diocese of Trenton, who sent the Rev. Patrick J. Clune to open the new parish of Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church.
Three years after the formation of the parish, the initiative to build the church building was undertaken, with significant contributions made to the building fund by both Cunningham and Burleigh. On November 4, 1906, Rev. John M, Fox of Trenton laid the cornerstone of the new church. On April 26, 1908, the dedication of the new church building took place, with over 400 Catholics in attendance.
Fire played a dubious role in the parish's early history. A fire stemming from a defective fireplace on May 7, 1908, and the water damaged caused during the battle with the blaze, destroyed the rectory; another fire on May 11, 1917 started in the church basement from movie films stored in the church basement, as early films from the 1900s could actually cause explosions; and a devastating fire on January 6, 1924 gutted the interior of the church, leaving only the stone foundation and walls. But the damage caused by these fires were no match to the conviction of priests and parishioners, and the church was completely rebuilt.
In the following decades, Saint Peter's underwent additional, and sometimes dramatic transformations: the addition of an elementary school in 1927; the creation of the Diocese of Camden in 1937; a church expansion in 1956; the building of Msgr. Fallon Hall, completed in 1981; the addition of a kindergarten class to the school in 1984; and extensive renovations and enchancements to the church in 2003, including four new bronze bells.
Through wars and peace time, tragedies and triumphs, good times and bad, Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church has been a constant for a thriving community of faith, and a bastion of traditional Catholic values.