The 3rd state to be admitted to the United States, 18 December 1787.
New Jersey's early history is marred by the bigotry against Catholics which characterized most of the colonies.
In 1680 a Catholic, William Douglass, was refused his seat in the General Assembly, as an elected representative from Bergen County, because of his religion.
In 1701 tolerance was extended to all but "papists," and even in the Constitution of 1776 Catholics were tacitly excluded from office.
The first priests to visit the scattered Catholics of northern New Jersey were two Jesuits, Father Thomas Harvey and Father Charles Gage, who had come from England in 1682 with Governor Thomas Dongan of New York.
Mass was said by them in Woodbridge the year of their arrival.
About 1748 Father Theodore Schneider, S.J., from Goshenhoppen (now Bally), Pennsylvania, visited the German Catholics of New Jersey, without arousing opposition, since he also exercised his professlon of medicine.
Other early missionary priests were the Jesuits, Father Ferdinand Farmer (Steinmeyer) and Father Robert Harding of Philadelphia.
The former's records of baptisms in private houses in various parts of New Jersey, extending from 1758-1781, are still preserved.
Early in the 19th century French refugees from Santo Domingo who had settled at Elizabeth, Madison, and elsewhere were visited regularly by Father Pierre Vianney, Father Jean Tissorant, and Father Pierre Malou, the latter being stationed at Madison.
Augustinian missions were established at Cape May and Trenton in 1803 and 1805, and a member of that order, Father Philip Lariscy of New York, was an active missionary in New Jersey, c.1821.
The German Catholic settlement at Macopin (now Echo Lake) had a rude plank chapel in 1803.
Trenton had the first substantial church, built in 1814, named in honor of Saint Francis, and served by priests from Philadelphia.
The first church at Paterson, Saint John's, was built in 1821, by Father Richard Bulger; and Saint John's Church at Newark was built in 1828, by Father Gregory Pardow.
Ecclesiastically the state is governed by the archdiocese of
and the dioceses of
New Catholic Dictionary