In the 1960's, when young couples were leaving urban Newark to find adequate housing for their growing families, they headed West. In this case it was West Essex. It was in North Caldwell that Notre Dame Church was founded in 1962 to accommodate an ever-growing Catholic population. Fr. John E. Murphy, the founding pastor, had his work cut out for him. Not only did he have to find the land for a new church, rectory and school, but he had to raise the funds as well.
He began by purchasing a home that would serve as a rectory for himself and his associate, Fr. Vincent Bonelli, as well as a temporary site for the daily celebration of the Eucharist. The rectory basement provided space for 70 tightly packed people who attended weekday Eucharist. With no church available yet, Sunday masses were celebrated in the auditorium of West Essex High School.
Over the course of the next two years, a Building Committee was formed by Fr. Murphy to make plans for a new church with attached school building for eight grades. Under the Co-chairmanship of Mr. Frank Rubino and Joe Spencer. A capital campaign was undertaken. On Sunday March 22, 1964, a one day fund raiser yielded pledges of $202,000 toward a goal of $700,000. To the great delight of all 450 families, the new church of Notre Dame with attached school was dedicated on May 25, 1965.
Fr. Murphy was also responsible for purchasing a home to serve as a rectory, just across the street from the church and convent housing for four religious sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill. Following his retirement in 1980, Fr. Murphy was succeeded by Msgr. Harold Darcy, recently returned from Rome. During his pastorate and with the assistance of Fr. John O'Connell, a number of renovations were initiated within the church to bring it more into line with the new liturgical guidelines, which also enhanced its original beauty. The parish community at this time grew to 880 families.
In July 1987, Msgr. Edward Ciuba, formerly Rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary at Darlington, became Notre Dame's third pastor.
Msgr. Ciuba would retire in early 2009 and Fr. Anthony Randazzo former Parochial Vicar at Notre Dame Church would be named the 4th Pastor effective February 2009.
February 2015, Fr. Thomas A. Dente is appointed Fifth Pastor of Notre Dame.
In 2002, the rectory at 358 Central Ave. was sold and a new modular rectory was constructed on a knoll to the right of the church. The vacated school building was renovated and became the "Notre Dame Parish Center". All of the parish offices, as well as a number of newly-decorated meeting rooms provide needed space for an ever-growing parish community. The parish family which numbered 450 families in 1962, now has over 1900 families.
God has blessed Notre Dame Parish abundantly. Our community will always be grateful to God, the source of all, and to the countless women and men, priests and religious who have proceeded us and made our story possible.