St. Cecilia High School (New Jersey)

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St. Cecilia High School
, ,
United States
TypePrivate high school
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
AuthorityArchdiocese of Newark
Team nameSaints

St. Cecilia High School was a Catholic high school in Englewood, in Bergen County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey, that operated under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark until it closed in 1986.


St. Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church was established in 1866 and saw substantial growth in the number of students served by its parochial school, necessitating an expansion that would be able to double the number of students that the school could serve. A building was designed to accommodate 600 students, with a cornerstone ceremony held in May 1901 and a formal dedication in January 1902.[1] The Book of Englewood, a history published by the city in 1922, describes the building as "an imposing edifice of red and gray sandstone."[2]

In 1939, two years after his graduation from Fordham University, Vince Lombardi began his football coaching career at St. Cecilia; he worked there for several years before leaving to take a junior coaching staff position at Fordham, his alma mater.[3] At the school, Lombardi taught algebra, chemistry, physics and Latin; in addition to coaching the school's baseball and basketball squads, he coached the football team to six state titles and a streak of 36 consecutive victories.[4][5]

Despite efforts by parents to keep the operating, the Newark diocese announces that the school would close at the end of the 1985-86 school year in the face of a drop in enrollment and rising debt.[6]


The 1943 football team, coached by Lombardi, earned recognition as the high school national champion with a 12–0 victory against the Brooklyn Prep team led by quarterback Joe Paterno.[7][8]

The boys' basketball team, also coached by Vince Lombardi, finished the 1945 season with a record of 21-3 after winning the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Parochial state championship against Trenton Catholic High School by a score of 55-51 in the tournament final at the Elizabeth Armory.[9][10]

The baseball team won the Non-Public B state championship in 1975, defeating Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in the final round of the tournament.[11]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "St. Cecilia's Church, Englewood" Archived 2016-06-12 at the Wayback Machine, Hudson County NJGenWeb, updated July 2017. Accessed September 11, 2017. "He therefore caused to be erected the beautiful stone building which in every detail is modern and stands as a living memorial to his faithful efforts in this community. The schools is built of cut stone and is erected to accommodate six hundred children. The corner-stone was laid May 2d, 1901, and the dedication ceremonies were held January 19th, 1902, by the Rt. Rev. J. J. O'Connor, D.D., bishop of this diocese."
  2. ^ Sterling, Adaline Wheelock. The Book of Englewood, pp. 209–210. Mayor and council of the city of Englewood, N. J., 1922. Accessed September 11, 2017. "The building, an imposing edifice of red and gray sandstone with an overall measurement of 88 by 82 feet, stands on Waldo place."
  3. ^ Staff. "An Unretiring Coach; Vincent Thomas Lombardi", The New York Times, February 4, 1969. Accessed December 17, 2019. "He began his coaching career at St. Cecilia High in Englewood, N. J., in 1938, then became an aide at Fordham and at West Point."
  4. ^ Wallace, William N. "Vince Lombardi; Football Coach, Dies", The New York Times, September 4, 1970. Accessed September 11, 2017. "Lombardi stayed at St. Cecilia for seven years. He soon was head coach of the football, basketball and baseball squads. His football teams won six state championships and had a string of 36 victories in a row."
  5. ^ Fabiano, Giovanna. "Englewood's St. Cecilia school to close", The Record, March 1, 2011, backed up by the Internet Archive as of January 21, 2016. Accessed September 10, 2017. "St. Cecilia's students went on to St. Cecilia High School – where legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi got his coaching start – before it closed its doors in 1986."
  6. ^ Grzella, Paul. "Catholic schools facing financial squeezes", Courier-News, February 8, 1986. Accessed December 20, 2023, via "Last week, the Archdiocese of Newark announced that two of its regional high schools, St. Cecilia's in Englewood and St. Michael's Girls High School, Union City, will close in 1986 because of declining enrollment and increasing debt. Some parents will appeal the decision at St. Cecilia's but church officials said it is final."
  7. ^ Walters, John. "Down and Out in New Jersey", Newsweek, January 29, 2014. Accessed September 12, 2017. "In its final game of the 1943 season, undefeated St. Cecilia High School, led by a brusque 30-year-old coach named Vince Lombardi, meets Brooklyn Prep, whose quarterback is a wiry youth named Joseph Paterno (the game program misidentifies him as 'Taterno'). St. Cecilia wins and is proclaimed the top high school team in the nation."
  8. ^ Staff. "St. Cecilia Eleven Wins; Turns Back Brooklyn Prep by 12–0 in Englewood Game", The New York Times, October 4, 1943. Accessed December 7, 2020.
  9. ^ NJSIAA Girls Basketball Championship History, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 20, 2020.
  10. ^ "Hackensack, Bergenfield, St. Cecilia Win State Titles", The Record, March 19, 1945. Accessed December 11, 2020. "The Englewood Saints won their first State Basketball title Saturday afternoon by edging out Trenton Catholic 55-51 in an exciting ball game at the Elizabeth Armory.... Trenton Catholic went into Saturday's game rated as a slight favorite to down the St. Cecilia gang. Coach Vince Lombardi's Englewood team, which had previously won 20 games and lost three, upset the applecart."
  11. ^ NJSIAA Baseball Championship History, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed May 1, 2023.
  12. ^ Corcoran, Barbara; and Littlefield, Bruce. Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 Into a Billion Dollar Business, p. 64. Penguin Books, 2011. ISBN 1-59184-418-5. Accessed September 2, 2018. "I was well on my road to popularity at St. Cecilia's when I flunked out of algebra, history, and Latin, and just as Dad had warned, I soon was taking the bus up the hill for my sophomore year at the public high school in Leonia."
  13. ^ John Doolan, Accessed January 13, 2018. "High School: St. Cecilia (NJ), Seton Hall Prep (NJ)"
  14. ^ Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey, 1970, p. 434. J. A. Fitzgerald, 1970. Accessed September 10, 2017. "William J. Dorgan (Rep., Palisades Park) Assemblyman Dorgan was born in Cliffside Park, November 9, 1921. He graduated from St. Cecilia High School and attended Seton Hall University."
  15. ^ Staff. "Services planned for Joe Echols, 60", The Record, April 7, 1977, via Accessed December 17, 2019. "Plans are being made for a memorial mass at St. Cecilia R. C. Church for Joe Echols, the former St. Cecilia High School athletic star. Mr. Echols, who played for Vince Lombardi at St. Cecilia In the early 1930s, died March 28, at age 60."
  16. ^ Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey: 2004 Edition, p. 292. Lawyers Diary and Manual, LLC, 2004. ISBN 9781577411871. Accessed September 10, 2017. "The assemblyman was born Dec. 16, 1949, in New York. N. Y. He is a graduate of St. Cecilia High School in Englewood."
  17. ^ "Francis Ellis Merritt", p. 156 in Assembly, March / April 1996, Volume 54, Issues 4-6. Accessed December 17, 2019. "He attended St. Cecilia's High School in Englewood, New Jersey, and was captain of their state champion football team. He graduated in 1939 and went on to Bullis Prep School, where he battled academics."
  18. ^ Adler, Kristie Chong. "Vince Lombardi’s former prep players share their memories of legend with ESPN New York’s Ian O'Connor", ESPN Front Row, January 23, 2014. Accessed September 11, 2017. "ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor – a former St. Cecilia football player and Class of 1982 graduate – interviewed several of Lombardi’s former students.... My childhood home in Englewood was all of nine houses away from Lombardi’s on Mountain View Road, so it was hard not to be impacted by his titanic career."
  19. ^ Charles Osgood, Fordham University. Accessed September 11, 2017. "Born in the Bronx, Osgood attended St. Cecelia High School in Englewood, New Jersey, before earning his bachelor’s degree in economics at Fordham College at Rose Hill in 1954."
  20. ^ Hearing on the Nomination of Charles O. Rossotti to be Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, United States Senate Committee on Finance. Accessed January 4, 2022. "Education... St. Cecilia High School, Englewood, New Jersey, 1954-1958"
  21. ^ "Stephen Eugene 'Steve' Sesnick Jr.",, November 10, 2022. Accessed November 11, 2022. "He lettered in basketball, baseball, and football at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, NJ, and he went on to play freshman basketball for St. John's University in New York City."
  22. ^ Vecsey, George. "Sports of The Times; A Portrait of a Late-Blooming Coach", The New York Times, March 20, 1988. Accessed December 17, 2019. "He played basketball for Vince Lombardi and he scouted for Bobby Knight, and now he has defeated Knight as a coach.... Tarrant was a Jersey guy before Bruce Springsteen made it fashionable. His odyssey began in the modest gymnasium of St. Cecilia High in Englewood, where his coach was a rugged former football lineman from Fordham."