South Jersey: A History 1624-1924

FATHER BONIFACE JOSEPH HENNIG, O.M.C - For several Years, Saints Peter and Paul's Church. of Camden, New Jersey, has had father Boniface Hennig as its pastor, a priest of fine ability and influence. 

He was born in Syracuse, New York, April 8, 1876, and when but fourteen years of age entered St. John's Academy in that city to begin his education for the priesthood. In due time he entered the Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, from which he was graduated in 1899. After being ordained there, he returned to the United States for several years, but again went to Rome and was graduated from the Roman Seminary in 1910. In this country he spent five years in Albany, New York, at the Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of Angels. Then he was stationed at Rensselaer, New York, for two years as rector of the Rensselaer College. His next station was in Utica, New York, as rector of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church. In September, 1915, he came to Camden, New Jersey, as rector of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, and has since here remained in that capacity, his assistant being Regis Larkin. While Father Hennig was in Rome, he was stationed in St. Peter's Church in the interest of English-speaking Catholics. He is chaplain of Assissi Council, Knights of Columbus, of Camden, and of the Franciscan Friars.

Father Hennig has won many friends in Camden outside of his priestly relation, and his administration of his church has been notably successful. His father, John Hennig, is a farmer, living near Syracuse; his mother is Thecia Hennig.

The history of the Roman Catholic Church of SS. Peter and Paul, of which Father Hennig is rector, is interesting. In 1867, it was evident to the German Catholics of Camden, who had been worshipping in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, that they should have a church of their own. Steps were taken toward that end. On April 8 of that year a meeting was held under the supervision of the Rev. Joseph Thurnes, of Egg Harbor, to appoint a committee to either select and purchase a suitable location for a church or a suitable building already erected for a place of worship.

The committee appointed at that time made investigation, and finally purchased the church building of the Second Baptist Church, on Fourth and Division streets, in January, 1868, for $4,000. After episcopal approbation had been obtained, the new congregation was incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey as The German Roman Catholic SS. Peter and Paul's Church of the City of Camden, New Jersey. After alterations in the building the church was dedicated by Right Rev. Bernard J. McQuade, Vicar-General of the diocese, and afterward Bishop of Rochester, New York. 

Father Thurnes took permanent charge of the parish, and in a short time the congregation counted several families. In 1869 the building was enlarged, and under the care and supervision of Father Thurnes, who remained as pastor until 1883, a parsonage and school house were also built. In 1883 Father Thurnes was transferred to St. Francis' Church in Trenton, and the Franciscan Fathers, Minor Conventuals, were put in charge of the parish. 

Rev. Francis Neubauer became the first Franciscan pastor of the church. He addressed himself to the task of a reorganization and the bringing back of those who had wandered away from "their Father's house." He was very successful in his pastorate. It was during his administration that the SS. Peter and Paul's Society and St. Francis' Society were organized. He likewise introduced the Third Order of St. Francis in the parish, and was untiring in his efforts for the spiritual welfare of his flock. For nearly a score of years the faithful worshipped in the little church, when it became evident that a larger edifice was necessary. Accordingly, on June 1, 1886, it was decided to purchase a new property for the congregation. One plot was bought, but as it was unsuitable, it was sold, and after much deliberation the property at the corner of Spruce and St. John streets, the present site, was purchased, and in due time a new church was built upon it.

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1890, the church was dedicated by Bishop O'Farrell. After various changes in the pastorate, Father Hennig took up the work in September, 1915.

Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
Left: Postcard from about 1907 * * * * * Right: Photograph taken July 10, 2004
Click on Images to Enlarge