Founded in 1886, St. Michael's Church owes its origin to the expressed needs of the times. Its presence offered a spiritual oasis for the ever increasing number of largely Irish Catholic female servants working in local non-Catholic households, as well as in the nearby hotels, casinos, and race tracks that once dotted the landscape of Long Branch's West End and Elberon. At the time of the church's construction, there was a road, estimated to be approximately one New York City block long, extending out from the church to the Atlantic Ocean.
At first, St. Michael's Church was a "mission church," simply an extension of Star of the Sea Church, Long Branch. However, in 1892, due to the growth of its community, St. Michael's Church relinguished that status and became an independent church.
Rev. James Augustine McFaul, the second Bishop of Trenton, used St. Michael Church as his summer cathedral. The Bishop's throne could be found in the sanctuary of the church where he conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation. To this day, one may notice, engraved in stone on the church steeple, a mitre, the hat worn by a Bishop, in memory of this historic time.
For much of its history, St. Michael's Church was predominantly an Irish Catholic church, serving West End, a basically Irish community. Today, the parish reflects the ethnic population of most of New Jersey in its service to the Italian population. At the same time, the congregation continues to increase in ethnic variety. St. Michael's is often referred to as a metropolitan church, a most appropriate title due to the fact that the average parishioner travels three to fifteen miles to St. Michael's, a church that serves people from over twenty zip codes.
Historically noteworthy, St. Michael's main altar was given in memory of Mr. Francis Anthony Drexel, banker and great philanthropist of Philadelphia. Mr. Drexel and his family summered at West End. His daughter, Mother Katherine Drexel, the founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She was canonized a saint of the church on October 1, 2000. She decided to enter the Religious Life while residing in parish territory, and the mosaic in her honor can be found in the vestibule of our Church.
Very notable are the stained glass windows in St. Michael's Church. Of very high quality, they stand as a testimony of the generosity of the Irish servant ladies who made them possible.
The first pastor, Rev. Richard Crean, served St. Michael's from 1892 to 1928. Father attended to his obligations as pastor by means of his horse, Duffy. Eventually, he purchased a Ford car. Father Crean has been succeeded by the following pastors: Msgr. John J. Sweeney (1929-1942), Rev. Charles J. Farran (1942-1951), Rev. Lewis A. Hayes (1951-1969), Msgr. Paul F. Bradley (1969-1989), Rev. Charles B. Weiser (1989-2014), Rev. Daniel Gowen, (2014 - 2015), Rev. John K. Butler (2016-present).