St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Atlantic City

The first Mass on Absecon Island was celebrated in the Spring of 1855 in the dining room of the guest cottage of Thomas Bedloe, an Irishman who came from Philadelphia in 1852. Father Michael Gallagher, O.S.A., of St. Augustine Church, Philadelphia, celebrated the Mass. With a gift of property on the south side of Tennessee and Atlantic Avenues, Father Gallagher, in 1855, erected a plain two-story frame structure which served as both a church and dwelling.

He offered Mass in this building in 1855 until the completion three years later, on a neighboring lot, of the gothic chapel of St. Nicholas. Father John J. Fedigan, O.S.A., was named first pastor of St. Nicholas in 1880. Father Fedigan expanded the original chapel, opening it on June 5, 1881; it had a capacity of 900. In 1887, Father Fedigan moved the structure to a new site on a larger plot of ground at Pacific and Tennessee Avenues, where a skating rink had been located. The present St. Nicholas Church was built during the pastorate of Father Francis McShane and dedicated in June, 1914. In 1977, St. Nicholas Church was given interior overhauling and brightening. The sanctuary was updated in keeping with the revised Liturgy. Father John T. Sheehan, O.S.A., was pastor of St. Nicholas for 27 years during four different terms of office, each broken by various other assignments in the Augustinian Order, including the office of provincial.

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