Father John Quaremba

Marker is located on Northwest corner of Mississippi and Atlantic Avenues.

Historical Marker text:

At the age of just 28 Father John Quaremba, a native of Castle Grande, Italy, founded St. Michael's Church in Atlantic City for Italian immigrants. In September 1904 he celebrated the first Mass at St. Michael's Parish which was just two years after he had both been ordained and had immigrated to America. About 30 families attended that mass in a vacated store at Mississippi and Atlantic avenues, a half a block away from the present location of St. Michael's Church. A permanent parish church at 12 N. Mississippi Avenue was blessed Dec. 23, 1912. Six weeks later, Father Quaremba opened the parish school with 99 students and four Salesian Sisters as their teachers. In 1926, he was instrumental in the development of the original Dante Hall opera house and theater, which helped lay the ground work for the continued fostering of culture in Ducktown and preservation of its rich Italian heritage.

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Additional information:

St. Michael's Church was originally founded in 1904 as a mission, but circumstances prompted its removal to the makeshift storefront church less than a month later. The Atlantic City Press looked back on the community's attempts at the time to build a proper church, noting that the project was "beset with obstacles and without human encouragement or financial support." At the time, the Italian community of Atlantic City which St. Michael's served was largely poor, making the financing of a permanent church by its parishioners a problem. This was solved, however, when resident James Doris bequeathed $10,000 and a tract of land to the church in his will. The permanent structure opened in 1912 and became a large part of Atlantic City's Italian community.

To this day, the church is known for its celebration of the "Wedding of the Sea," which is held on August 15th to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. The tradition dates back to Venice in the 1400s, and involves the blessing of the sea by a church pastor and the tossing of a golden ring into the ocean. Like in Venice, this is done to symbolize the important relationship between the ocean and the seashore towns that rely on it for much of their commerce. In the earlier years of this tradition, many refused to bathe earlier in the season before the ocean was blessed. The custom faded when Atlantic City was occupied by the military during World War II, but it was later revived. St. Michael's Church was an important community establishment for many years, and Father Quaremba personally presided over the mass held on its 40th Anniversary. The parish school closed in 1988, but the church is operational.

Father Quaremba's marker is located near St. Michael's Church.

Father John Quaremba. (75th Anniversary of St. Michael's Parish, 1904-1979. Atlantic City Heritage Collections, Atlantic City Free Public Library) For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
Local History Biography Files - Rev. John Quaremba
Local History Subject Files - Churches - St. Michael's
St. Michael's Church event program for the Wedding of the Sea, 1975
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