Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Origins of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham, New York

St. Catharine's Church stands at 25 Second Avenue in the Village of Pelham, New York. Today's Historic Pelham Blog Posting will provide information about the origins of the church at that location.

In 1895, the Village of Pelham had not yet been incorporated within the Town of Pelham. In the tiny little hamlet of Pelhamville there lived more than fifty Catholic families. The area was within the parish of St. Gabriel's Church, New Rochelle that was led, at that time, by Rev. John Anthony Kellner, Rector.

Families in Pelhamville asked Father Kellner to allow the construction of a church in Pelhamville. Father Kellner, in turn, sought the sanction of then New York Archbishop Michael Augustine Corrigan. Archbishop Corrigan granted the necessary permission.

According to an announcement published in The New York Times on Christmas day the same year, a beautiful edifice was planned. The report said, in part:

"The church will be Gothic in style. It will have a seating capacity of 350 persons. The dimensions will be 35 feet by 76 feet. It will be a frame structure, with a bell tower over the sacristy. The basement will be of stone."

Catholic Church For Pelhamville, N.Y. Times, Dec. 25, 1895, p. 16.

The 100 x 100 lot for the building was a gift of Patrick Farrell and was located near the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Blessed Redeemer. Residents raised five hundred dollars toward construction of the building and obtained crosses and seven stained glass windows for inclusion in the new edifice. Id.

Plans were made for a ground-breaking in January 1896 with an expectation that the building would be completed six months later in June.

On July 5, 1896, Archbishop Corrigan led the dedication of the new church building in Pelhamville. At 10:00 a.m. the ceremony began. The master of ceremonies for the event was the Rev. Father Newey. The Rev. M. Milan, C. S. P. delivered a sermon and the Rev. John Anthony Kellner sang High mass. The Rev. Father McMillan of the Paulist Fathers delivered a dedicatory sermon. Archbishop Corrigan bestowed the Papal blessing on the congregation. The choir of St. Gabriel's Church performed to music by the Apollo Orchestra of New Rochelle. Father Kellner oversaw the new church with help from Father Cussick, assistant Rector of St. Gabriel's Church in New Rochelle. See St. Catherine's [sic] New Church, N.Y. Times, Jul. 6, 1896, p. 9.

The vision and foresight of those late 19th century families and clergy have been rewarded a thousandfold. Today, St. Catharine's Church, led by The Rev. Peter F. Bannan, is a vibrant and important part of the community.

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