St. Monica Church, 75 and vibrant



Father Yvans Jazon, administrator, concelebrates the 75th anniversary Mass of St. Monica Church, Atlantic City, on Aug. 25, with retired Auxilary Bishop Guy Sansaricq, at left. Right, women embrace during a Spanish Mass celebrated on April 21.

Photos by Alan M. Dumoff, more photos

St. Monica Church in Atlantic City recently celebrated its 75th anniversary with seven days of spiritual enlightenment, beginning with the evening of Monday, Aug. 19, and concluding this past Sunday, Aug. 25.
Each night starting at 7 p.m., the church held a Mass and novena, led by the diverse faith communities of the parish (Anglo, Haitian, Filipino, Spanish and African).
The weeklong celebration included several guest speakers, and on Aug. 23, Corliss Sellers, former director of Black Catholic Ministries for the Diocese of Camden, used the occasion to pay tribute to Mother Emma Lewis, foundress of St. Monica; Mother Katharine Drexel; and the work of women in the church today.
“This parish stands today because of this remarkable woman who answered ‘yes’ to God’s voice,” said Sellers.
Born into the Baptist faith, Mother Lewis converted to Catholicism and sent her daughter to a school in Pittsburgh that was founded by Mother Katharine Drexel.
Mother Lewis moved to Philadelphia where she started a school, and she later rented a house in Atlantic City that eventually became St. Monica’s Mission. The mission was helped with funding from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Mother Katharine Drexel’s community.
The mission eventually came under the care of Msgr. William F. Dittrich, pastor of Holy Spirit Church, and in 1938 the mission was established as a parish.
The current church was built in 1949.
Today the parish serves the African-American, Anglo, Haitian, Spanish and Filipino communities under the leadership of Father Yvans Jazon.
“We have to go no further than right here at St. Monica’s and see what the modern day Emma Lewis’ are doing in this church community,” Sellers said in her talk.
“Each and every one of you who plant the seeds of spirituality in your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and friends and who nurture and grow that faith in your community exemplifies Mother Emma Lewis, St. Katharine Drexel and the Blessed Mother who heard the voice of the Holy Spirit and said, ‘Yes.'”
Retired Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq of Brooklyn was the celebrant at the closing Mass on Sunday, which was followed by dinner, entertainment and fellowship.