First Black Catholic Church, Trenton Diocese The Church of Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd Church was founded as a Roman Catholic parish, the first in the Diocese of Trenton specifically for African Americans, on this site in 1941 in response to a petition from hundreds of black Catholics to Bishop William Griffin. He ordered the purchase of the former home of the State Lodge of the Negro Masons of New Jersey, erected here in 1928, for the new parish. The bishop officiated at the first Mass on June 14, 1941. The parish opened a school here in September 1943, originally staffed by Franciscan nuns from Austria and later by a black order, the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Priests of the Society of the Divine Word served the parish faithfully over the years. Hundreds of African American Catholics who served God and the community worshipped joyfully in this church. They were baptized, educated, wed, spiritually uplifted and memorialized here. The parish merged with Church of the Blessed Sacrament in 2005 and relocated to its site at 716 Bellevue Avenue on Christmas Eve, 2008.
Text on the plaque placed at the site of the former Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd Church at 42—72 Pennington Avenue.
Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd
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