Monsignor William J. Linder, Founder
Harmony House is a transitional housing program with the primary goal of helping families move from homelessness to permanent housing and from dependency to self-sufficiency. With the capacity to house 102 families in individual apartment units and a host of on-site social services, Harmony House provides much more than a shelter. It offers stability to families facing seemingly insurmountable barriers and enables them to restore their lives.
As the largest transitional living facility in New Jersey, Harmony House has earned an excellent reputation for the array of effective and comprehensive services it provides to homeless families and children. Residents are encouraged — and in many cases are required — to take advantage of the child care, job training and other resources available to them through the New Community network.
Born in Jersey City on June 5, 1936, Monsignor grew up in West New York and enrolled in Manhattan College to study engineering in 1954. However, halfway through his freshman year, Monsignor’s father suddenly died at age 53. Monsignor finished the semester at Manhattan College and then spent the next two years at Seton Hall University studying classical language and philosophy. In the fall of 1958, he entered the Immaculate Conception Seminary, where he spent his next six years. Monsignor was ordained as a priest on May 25, 1963. At age 27, Monsignor received his pastoral assignment for the all-black parish called Queen of Angels in Newark, and founded New Community with a small group of community-minded residents in 1968. In 1973, Monsignor was abruptly removed from Queen of Angels and exiled to the dormant St. Joseph Parish in Newark. In 1974, he was reassigned to St. Rose of Lima Parish in the Roseville section of Newark, where he became its pastor in 1977. Monsignor retired as pastor of St. Rose of Lima in 2012 at age 76. He is currently the president of the New Community Corporation Board of Directors and remains active within the organization.
Monsignor held an AB in Sociology from Seton Hall University, an MA and Ph.D. in Sociology from Fordham University and honorary degrees from 10 institutions of higher education. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Fordham University in 1988. He received numerous honors, including Person of the Week from ABC World News Tonight; McArthur Foundation Fellows Award; Governor’s Gold Medal (NJ); Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment and the Entrepreneurial American Leaders Award; and the 2007 Project of the Year HOPE Award from the National Association of Realtors.
Monsignor lectured all over the world to those interested in the community development movement, including a two-week teaching engagement at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. He served as adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University for seven years. New Community hosted about 25 visits from the non-government sector of foreign countries each year. In addition, the U.S. Department of Commerce employed NCC to develop the Non-Government Sector in Northern Ireland as part of the peace process in that country. That was under the leadership of President Bill Clinton and Mrs. Hillary Clinton.
Educating young people was always important to Monsignor. The Monsignor William J. Linder Scholarship helps pay for high school students to attend area Catholic schools. He was also involved in area charter schools.
Monsignor released his memoir, Out of the Ashes Came Hope, with Gilda Rogers in 2016.
Monsignor passed away June 8, 2018 at the age of 82.