site top page banner
A Small Parish With A Big Heart Located in South River N.J.

About Us

St. Stephen Protomartyr Church was established in 1907 by a group of, Hungarian immigrants, its Founding Fathers. Among them were:   Sandor Bacameri, Pal Baksza, Kalman Balajthy, Ferenc Becza, John Berta, Istvan Cellert, Janos Csubak, Laszlo Hocya, Ferencz Jecer, Janos Jaszovics, Janos Kaczor, Albertne Kopar, Antalne Leceny, Lajosne Maklary,  Kalman Noszko, Janos Orszac, Pal Ocskai, Sandor Palko, Janos Pasztor, Mihaly Peto, Janos Reho, Andras Schin, Istvan Sebestven, Mihaly Soss, Emery Sule, Istvan Szarvas, Antal Szmutku, Janos Szmutku, Jozsef Szup, Janos Tamas, Jozsef Tomozi, Peter Vech, Mihaly Viszmec & Stephen Zackar.

The first Holy Mass was celebrated on December 5, 1906 ( at St. Mary’s )  by St. Stephen’s first pastor – Rev. Victor von Kubinyi.

The certificate of incorporation was signed by the Bishop of Trenton, Most Rev. James McFaul and the construction of the building itself was done by Charles Eppinger and his company at the cost of $2987.00 ( includes the church furniture and the organ )… The church was made entirely of wood. The Bishop dedicated the church on April 1, 1907 at the first Mass offered in it. The rectory was erected a few years later at the cost of $1887.00. On February 9, 1921 ( Ash Wednesday ), the church was destroyed by fire. The same year,  the construction of the new – present church edifice was finished at the cost of $19,987.00.

In April 1942, Fr. Alexander Bor initiated the building of the garage and a fence around the property at the cost of $600.00. The landscaping, renovations and redecoration of the interior of the church were also done at his time in the office. Beautiful stained glass windows were installed by Hiemer Company of Paterson, N.J. and the Hammond organ was installed as well.

Appointed as Pastor in 1949, Fr. Joseph Vadas re-decorated the church, with numerous renovations done at the same time. The main Tridentine altar was designated by Pope Pius XII as “Altare Privilegiatum.”

In June 1950, Fr. Albert Poor came to the parish and was its pastor until 1987.  In 1961, the congregation peaked 451 families, with 298 children in its CCD program. The Sisters of Divine Charity from Hungary served at Saint Stephen’s from 1942 to 1955. In 1956, Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul came to the parish, serving it until 1976. During Fr. Poor’s pastorate various improvements were made to the church and its grounds.  The basement of the church was remodeled and made the Parish Center. A parking lot was added. The interior of the church was painted and its exterior was covered in stone.  In 1978, services in Hungarian language were discontinued.

At the time of Fr. Glenn Comandini’s ministry in the parish ( 1992 – 1998 ), a monthly Seniors Luncheon was introduced and the church renovation was done ( included new sanctuary furniture, new carpeting, new doors ), Confession Room, a  complete painting of the church’s interior plus a new marble altar & pulpit, dedicated in August 1995. A relic of St. Maria Goretti was placed inside one of   the altar’s columns. The statue of the sanctuary angels and that of St. Stephen Protomartyr were purchased for the church and in 1996 new pew cushions were installed.

During  Fr. Maciej Melaniuk’s pastorate ( 1998 – 2002 ) a new air-condition system was installed in the church and a parish banner was purchased. In 2006, the parish had 195 active families with 33 children in its CCD program.

Since Fr. John J. Szczepanik’s arrival at Saint Stephen’s in 2007, the following events have taken place and projects have been accomplished:    * On September 23, 2007 the 100 anniversary of Saint Stephen’s was celebrated with a solemn Mass offered by Most Rev. Paul Bootkoski,  the Bishop of Metuchen, concelebrated by Fr. John  and other priests. The liturgy was followed by a Parish Anniversary Banquet;       * In November 2007, black mold was removed from the rectory;        * On December 2, 2007 the parish ministry in Spanish was established by Fr. John;          * In fall of 2008, the complete renovation of the Parish Center took place ( new flooring and painting, new stage and sound system inside, creation of a CCD classroom and conference room );      *  On November 7, 2010 – a statue of Saint Stephen of Hungary, made in Poland, was installed during a solemn Mass presided by Bishop Paul Bootkoski. It was a loving gift of Ann and Helen Csabay;      * In spring 2011, a renovation of the rectory was done ( new flooring and painting );        * In summer 2012, our parish internet website ( ) was built by Danny Mercado;          * In 2013, a new roof was constructed on top of the rectory;     * In July 2014, a new roof was constructed on top of the church and the parish garage;     * In summer 2015, the melioration of the grounds around the rectory was conducted;       * On October 11, 2016 the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariapocs was blessed by Bishop James F. Checchio – it was constructed on the left side of the church in honor of the Founding Fathers of the parish, who came from Hungary. The erection of the chapel was financed by a generous gift of Ann & Helen Csabay in loving memory of their parents, Joseph and Sophie Csabay;          * On October 11, 2016 a Fountain of Life was blessed by the same bishop – it was constructed on the left side of the shrine in memory of all the innocent victims of abortion. The fountain was donated by Fr. John’s sister Margaret Przewoznik and her husband Adam of Poland;    * On April 27, 2017  Saint Stephen’s celebrated its 110th anniversary with a solemn Mass offered by His Excellency James Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen and followed by a special banquet in the Parish Center;       * In summer of 2018, a major renovation of the church was undertaken ( new main floor, new sanctuary floor, painting of the whole church, installation of the kneelers’ pads, refurbished pews ), sponsored financially by St. Stephen’s Spanish-speaking Community. This project was blessed by Bishop James F. Checchio on October 19 of the same year during a solemn Mass, closing our anniversary celebrations;      * In November 2019, a new boiler and a new water heater were installed in the church;        * On April 8, 2020 a St. Stephen’s YouTube channel was established by a parishioner, Juan Carlos Sanchez;       * In May 2021, a new chapel was created inside the church under the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. It is located on the left side of the staircase leading to the choir loft;        * On July 31, 2021 a new sidewalk was constructed behind the church, connecting the sidewalks on each side of the temple. It was sponsored by our parishioners Luis and Eli Garcia;     * On August 11, 2021 a new Main Altar was installed in the church with its main image of Christ the High Priest and two smaller images of Sts. Peter and Paul as Guardians of the Church and that of St. Rose of Lima, patron saint of Latin America. This project was financed by Fr. John’s sister from Poland, Margaret Przewoznik and her husband Adam in gratitude to God for saving her life at the time of a heart attack she suffered from in July 2021;     * On September 2, 2021 a statue of St. Joseph the Worker was erected ( financially sponsored by Arcila & Jimenez families + Karina Peralta & family + Luis & Eli Garcia ) in the back on the left side of the church, well visible from our parking and the area in front of the side door;       * on August 20, 2022 a statue of a Praying Angel was installed on the right side of the church, outside, facing our parking area ( gift of Fr. John to the parish )

* Since August 2007, the parish has increased its membership from 195 active families in 2007 to 455 in the year 2021 and its CCD enrollment from 23 in 2007 to 121 in 2021.

Pastors of St. Stephen’s Church:        

1907 – 1910:    Fr. Victor Von Kubinyi

1910 – 1912:    Fr. William Gilfilin

1912 – 1915:     Fr. Paul Csizmadia

1915 – 1917:     Fr. John Szabo

1917 – 1921:     Fr. Alex Rogovsky

1921:                 Fr. Albert Bela Szmolgia

1921 – 1922:     Fr. Louis Thomas

1922:                 Fr. Alexander Kiss

1922 – 1928:     Fr. Ladislaw Csanyi

1928 – 1930:     Fr. Emery Kasztovszky

1930 – 1937:      Fr. Joseph Szabo

1937 – 1939:      Fr. Leopold Mosonyi

1939 – 1949:      Fr. Alexander Bor

1949 – 1950:      Fr. Joseph Vadas

1950 – 1987:      Fr. Albert Poor

1987 – 1992:      Fr. Sergio Reyes

1992 – 1998:      Fr. Glenn Comandini

1998 – 2002:     Fr. Maciej Melaniuk

2002 – 2006:    Fr. George Pisanello

2006:                 Fr. Stanley Gromadzki

2007:                 Fr. John Stec

2007 – present:   Fr. John J. Szczepanik

We warmly welcome all visitors. If you wish to talk to Fr. John during your visit, please call us at 732-257-0100 or at 732-766-3452 – Fr. John is always available for you at these two telephone numbers.

* Regardless of where you live – you can become one of the Honorary Members of Saint Stephen’s – a Small Parish with a Big Heart.

God bless you, and thank you for visiting our website!