Sunday, November 14, 2021

'New Jersey Fan Club' and Churches of the Garden State

25 years ago this past week, Bruce Springsteen returned to Freehold, NJ, to play a concert in the gym where he attended parochial school at St. Rose of Lima parish.

I know this because I'm both a Springsteen fan and a collector of images of New Jersey churches.

I took this photo of St. Rose of Lima Church a few months ago, and posted it on Instagram with the tag #njchurcheverysunday, where it joined about 200 other images of churches that have stopped me in my tracks in my travels over the past few years.

Why do I do this?

That's exactly what I explore in an essay (with photos) that will be published next year as part "New Jersey Fan Club," a Rutgers University Press anthology of artists and writers celebrating the Garden State.

Edited by Kerri Sullivan, founder of the popular Instagram account @jerseycollective, this is "an eclectic anthology featuring personal essays, interviews, and comics from a broad group of established and emerging writers and artists who have something to say about New Jersey. It offers a multifaceted look at the state’s history and significance, told through narrative nonfiction, photographs, and illustrations."

That's the way Kerri describes her labor of love at this site, where you can read more information about the project, access links to pre-order the book, and sign up for the Jersey Collective newsletter.

I'm proud to be associated with the many talented people who contributed to "New Jersey Fan Club." The cover was recently unveiled (see photo above), as well as the list of contributors. I'm already a fan of many of these talented artists, photographers, and writers.

Which brings me back to Bruce, who grew up in a house (number 39 1/2, see photo below) behind the St. Rose of Lima school parking lot.

As he wrote in his autobiography, "We live, literally, in the bosom of the Catholic Church, with the priest's rectory, the nuns' convent, the St. Rose of Lima Church and grammar school all just a football's toss away across a field of wild grass." He added, "Though he towers above us, here God is surrounded by man—crazy men, to be exact."

Crazy men, like me, who post images of churches every Sunday on Instagram.

Bruce Springsteen's childhood home, Freehold NJ