The Past as a Prologue:
The History of Red Bank Catholic
There was a time before Red Bank Catholic was a hub of activity in the heart of Red Bank. A time before Casey teams captured headlines; before performances on the Broad Street Auditorium stage became the stuff of legends; before the world became aware of this extraordinary place through the accomplishments of our alumni; a time when Red Bank Catholic was merely an idea. There was a moment when someone imagined what could be. They gave voice to the dream, they rallied support for it and with limited resources and abundant faith, they worked to make it a reality. Throughout the course of the storied history of Red Bank Catholic, at every pivotal moment, when failure was as likely as success, the stewards of this beloved institution chose the dream over the challenges it presented. That is our prized legacy—to imagine big, important dreams for this school and then to achieve them.
We find evidence of this in our earliest roots. In 1856, the very first pastor of the St. James Parish, Rev. Killeen, stood on the banks of the river watching materials for the church he planned to build floating on rafts from Jersey City. He enlisted the aid of his future parishioners to guard those supplies during the night so those outraged by the idea of a Catholic church in town wouldn’t destroy them. Rev. Killeen oversaw the construction of a modest church on the corner of Pearl and Wall Streets. The pews soon filled with parishioners. The new pastor, mindful that teaching the youngest members of the parish about their faith was of paramount importance, asked a parishioner, Mrs. Ann O’Reilly, to help him with that ambition. Mrs. O’Reilly organized catechism classes in her Pearl Street home.