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Parish History

St. Mary’s – The First 150 Years

On October 2, 1852, St. Mary’s welcomed its first pastor, Fr. John Lewis.  The first Mass was celebrated the following day in the residence of Michael O’Connor.  The second Mass was celebrated on October 10th in Pagoda in Clifton Park.  During the rest of the month, Fr. Lewis baptized 11 infants in their own homes. 

On November 4, 1852, construction began on a temporary church/school (which is now the site of  St. Joseph’s).  On Christmas Eve 1852, Midnight Mass was celebrated to inaugurate the original church. 

March 1, 1853:  The school opened.

1857:  The cornerstone is laid for the present church.

1862:  The parish established St. Mary’s Cemetery.

1864:  New building is constructed for Parish School and Orphanage.

1865:   Sisters of Mercy take charge of parish schools.

1867:  Sisters of Charity begin 120 years of service.

1869:  Fr. Lewis marks 25 years of service.

1878:  St. Mary’s Dramatic Society stages shows in new St. Mary’s Hall

1882:  Fr. Lewis establishes mission church in Rocky Hollow (later Stapleton)

1883:  Catholic Young Men’s Literary Union is built for recreation, literary exercises.

1887:  First Mass is celebrated in Immaculate Conception Church, Stapleton

November 17, 1887:  Fr. Lewis dies after 35 years as pastor.

1880s – 1890s:  Immigrants arrive from Italy in large numbers.

1890 – 1909:  Early pastors, Fr. Daniel J. Corkery, Fr. James F. Mee, Fr. Michael Cuniff

1909:  Monsignor D.M. McMackin, new pastor, revitalizes parish life.

1910:  New fireproof brick school on Bay Street replaces original wooden structure

1913:  Parish marks 60th anniversary with “Grand Reunion and Festival”

1914 – 1918:  Rosebank men and women serve nation in World War

1932:  President Franklin D. Roosevelt leads nation of Depression.

1938:  Parish registry contains 1800 names.

1942:  World War II changes life in Rosebank.

1952:  Cardinal Francis X. Spellmn celebrates 100th Anniversary Mass.

1962 – 1965:  Second Vatican Council brings changes in universal Church.

1964:  Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.

1969:  Monsignor Hammer refurbishes bell tower.

1977:  Cardinal Terrence Cooke celebrates 125th Anniversary Mass.

1992:  Sailor-volunteers from Stapleton port help refurbish school.

1994:  New electronic Allen Organ is dedicated.

1995:  School achieves Middle States Accreditation.

1998:  Repairs on church steeple reflect permanent approach.

1999:  Fr. Buebendorf oversees removal of exterior red paint.

2000:  Parish observes New Millennium of Christianity.  Installs icon of Trinity.

2001:  Terrorist attack on World Trade Center on September 11 brings grief to parish.

2002:  St.  Mary’s celebrates 150 years of parish history.

(click to enlarge photos)