Our St. Luke Parish
The early years: The community Parish of St. Luke emerged from its mother parish, Our Lady of the Mountain, Washington Township. As the area began to grow and develop, the increasing number of new members suggested that a new parish should be formed. Through the generosity of Our Lady of the Mountain, ten acres of land was donated to aid the prospective parish with the construction of the church in the valley.
On January 1, 1982, a group of parishioners formed a task force to research township growth and investigate parishioner attitudes. After months of careful consideration and dialogue with parish members, the parish was officially formed by Bishop Frank Rodimer on October 18, 1982. “St. Luke’s Feast Day”.
Rev. Peter J. Doody was named Pastor and celebrated the first mass on the weekend of October 23rd 1982 at the Long Valley Middle School Cafeteria. We soon needed space for God’s work along with a home for Fr. Doody and purchased our rectory at 3 Carl Lane on July 14th 1983.
Centrally located in the valley, this private home served as the religious education and parish administrative offices with the garage transformed into a warm and welcoming chapel used for daily mass. We are a parish created of necessity that has become a family formed by love. Like early faith communities, the ministries of teaching, healing and worship developed during these initial years have been the embodiment of our faith experiences and the fulfillment of our community’s needs.
Building Our Church
The 1984 parish survey defined the image of St. Luke Parish as a community of worshipers bound by a single theme – the willingness to give of our time, talents and resources to support the completion of building our church. The first mass in our church was held on the weekend of December 2, 1989.
Our church is our statement of faith -expressing God’s presence in our lives – representing our longing for spirituality and our need to belong to God’s faith community. It is a symbol of our beliefs, hopes and dreams. May it forever serve as a refuge when we have been beaten and our spirits are low – lifting our spirits, sparking our imaginations – heightening our awareness of who we are in Christ.
Our church sits with its entry court facing east to embrace the morning sun and provide a warm, welcoming space from which the valley and surrounding hills can be viewed. Adjacent to the main entry doors on the exterior wall is a Jerusalem cross with circular accents representing the four evangelists. Only the symbol for St. Luke, a winged ox, is identified in relief.
The design of the main worship space – with sloping roof structures reminiscent of early farm building – is the embodiment of our community’s commitment to Sacrament. It is here that we come together to share the work and the Eucharist. Our church seats approximately 450 worshipers and is designed to convey an atmosphere of the sacred, and of warmth and inclusion. The main worship space is configured to make us aware of each other and yet focuses on the Word (ambo) and the Eucharist (altar). The Altar and the Ambo are elevated to facilitate good visibility, audibility, and eye contact between priest and parishioner.
“May he enlighten your innermost vision that you may know the great hope to which he has called you, the wealth of his glorious heritage to be distributed among the member of the church, and the immeasurable scope of his power in us who believe.:”
The sanctuary provides barrier-free access, allowing all members of the community to fully participate in ministry roles. The crucifix provides a focal point for all worship. Stations of the cross, a crucifix and large stained glass windows enhance the more intimate Daily Mass chapel.
Rev. Michael J. Drury joined the parish as it’s pastor in 1994, continuing to support and reinforce the St. Luke vision of a Christian community – serving and caring for one another.
Father Drury presided over the dedication of the stained glass windows in the fall of 1996, which were installed in the main worship area and the chapel.
Our Parish Center
With the continued growth of the Long Valley community and the increasing number of new families joining our parish, we experienced a rapidly increasing need for space – with committees and religious catechists often times using the supply room for meeting space or as a classroom. In the fall of 1996, with the approval of the diocese, we embarked on a fund raising effort to construct our 5000 square foot Parish Center. Funding was secured due to the generous donations of our parish family and construction of the Parish Center began in the spring of 1997.
The Parish Center, structurally linked to the Narthex and the church, contains 5 meeting rooms intended to serve as meeting space for ministers, service organizations, religious education as well as for other groups. A two story multi-function activity and recreation center is available for use by all parishioners
Recognizing the needs of a growing parish, a new ten room center for Religious Education was dedicated in September of 2003. It is connected to the five room parish center.
The new center holds the parish’s Sunday religious education classes, Monday evening Jr. High classes, meetings for Youth Ministry, RCIA and the Knights of Columbus, among others.
“The Center for Religious Education gives us more ability to do more things”, said Fr. Drury. It is hoped that the new center will also house adult education ministries, including Bible study and lectures.
Set on ten acres in the heart of the valley, surrounded by gently sloping farmland, our parish home is designed to reflect our early American farm tradition, and our continued belief that life and liturgy are intimately related.
Similar to buildings seen throughout the valley, the exterior finishes recall the same plastered buildings with fieldstone base. Its windows, set high over the roof lines, allow for maximum natural light.
In the many months and years that we have watched our Parish ascend from its faith-filled beginnings – first, the establishment of the parish, then building the church and now the dedication of the Parish Center – parishioners, residents of the valley, and those people just passing by have become acutely aware of the power that architecture has played in expressing who we are.
It has always been our desire to create a parish in the image of our St.
Luke family, honoring the image of our Lord
“Parish means: Christ’s presence among people – Parish means a set of persons, a community in which and with which Jesus Christ reconfirms the presence of God ”
Pope John Paul II