In the middle of the 19th century, Catholics in the rural area around Hopewell attended church in Lambertville and Princeton. By the 1870s, however, Hopewell was beginning to transform from a rural area to a busy little village, thanks to the arrival of the railroad. Although Rev. Thomas Moran of St. Paul’s, Princeton, came to say Mass twice a year at the home of Daniel and Hannah Rearden on Province Line Road, this was not enough. Mr. Rearden and other local Catholics, including Patrick Cashel and Edward Brophy, met with Bishop Michael A. Corrigan of the Diocese of Newark to intercede for their own church.
About 1876 (the same year that the Hopewell Train Station was completed), Fr. Moran began to take up subscriptions for a church. Later that year, Rev. Anthony Smith of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Trenton purchased land and initiated construction of the church. According to county records, “Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church” was incorporated on December 22, 1876. Several days later, on December 28, 1876, 2.24 acres of land was purchased from Samuel and Catherine Taylor for the sum of $632. The covered basement was completed by summer and the first on-site Mass was said July 11, 1877, during which time the celebrant, Bishop Corrigan, laid the cornerstone.
Fr. Michael Holland, an assistant from St. Mary’s Cathedral, was given charge of the Hopewell mission and he worked hard to advance the building, which was completed within a few years at a cost of $5,000. In 1881, the diocese of Trenton was created. On January 21, 1894, St. Alphonsus became an independent parish and received its first resident pastor—Rev. Joseph Keuper.
The beautiful stained glass windows were installed in 1921, thanks to donations from parishioners. Windows include:
St. Alphonsus (gift of the Sodality of BVM)
St. Peter (in honor of parish boys who served in the world war)
St. Paul (in honor of parish boys who served in the world war)
St. Matthew (in memory of Daniel and Hannah Rearden)
St. Mark (in memory of James and Catherine Shelby)
St. Luke (in memory of Edward and Hannah Brophy)
St. John (in memory of John Corcoran)
St. Patrick (in memory of Patrick and Bridget Cashel)
St. Anthony (in memory of Stephen and Hannah King)
St. Aloysius (gift of the Holy Name Society)
St. Francis of Assissi (in memory of Mary Bregenzer)
And in the choir loft, St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians.
While the altar has undergone several alterations during the 20th century, the initial shape and size of the church remains unchanged.