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.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Brief History of St. Catharine's Parish Published in 1927

I recently encountered a brief but important history of the early years of St. Catharine's Parish published in 1927 in The Daily Argus (Mount Vernon, New York).  I have transcribed the brief article below, followed by a citation to its source.

I have written about the history of St. Catharine's numerous times.  See:

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014:  Brief History of the Role Churches Played in the Growth of the Pelhams Published in 1926.

Thu., Sep. 13, 2007:  Dedication of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham in 1896.

Wed., Sep. 12, 2007:  Announcement of Planned Construction of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in Pelhamville in 1895.

Tue., Dec. 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.  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.

St. Catharine's in April, 2011.
Source:  Wikipedia.

Below is the article from The Daily Argus of Mount Vernon published in 1927.  It contains a brief history of the early years of St. Catharine's.  

St. Catherine's [sic] Roman Catholic, North Pelham, Has Had Growth That is Remarkable
Monsignor McNichol Pastor Since 1897 -- Father Downing, Assistant

St. Catherine's [sic] Roman Catholic church, located on Second avenue, between First and Second streets, North Pelham, began on January 11, 1896, as a mission from St. Gabriel's church, New Rochelle.  Rev. Father John Kellner, pastor of St. Gabriel's, said mass in Pelham on Sundays and holy days for the Catholics living there so that they would not have to go to Mount Vernon or New Rochelle.

On December 8, 1897, Pelham was made a separate parish, the Rev. Francis P. McNichol being made the first pastor.  He completed the furnishing of the temporary church, which seated about 100.  At the time there was a mortgage of $3,500 on the church.

Father McNichol purchased land and in 1899 built a rectory.  The present school building was erected in 1903.

Father McNichol arranged to have the Sisters of St. Francis, with whom he had been associated at mount Lorette, Staten Island, come to teach the children the Christian doctrine.  His next work was the building of the convent for the sisters.  They occupied it on December 8, 1906, and opened the parish school in February, 1907.

The school is under the supervision of the board of regents of the state of New York and no pupil receives a diploma at graduation who has not fulfilled all the requirements of that board.

Church Enlarged.

To provide for the increasing congregation, the church was rebuilt and enlarged and in 1908 it was dedicated by Archbishop Averas, papal delegate to Cuba and Porto [sic] Rico.  On the same day Archbishop Farley, later Cardinal Farley, administered the scarament [sic] of confirmation.  Monsignor Hayes, now Cardinal Hayes, was master of ceremonies.  Since that time also a house has been built on First avenue for the sexton of the church.  

In 1921 a successful campaign was conducted to collect $16,000 to pay off a mortgage which encumbered the church buildings.  In 1926 an extension was built on the rectory and necessary repairs were made on all the church buildings.  This involved an expenditure of $10,000.  

A collection has just been completed which will fully pay for all the expenses incurred with this work.  

There are four societies connected with the church.  These are:  The Holy Name society for all the men of the parish over 18 years of age; the Ladies of Charity who help the priests of the parish in looking after the needy; the Children of Mary for the young ladies of the parish; and the Angels' Sodality for the young who have made their first holy communion.

Monsignor McNichol, the pastor of St. Catherine's, was born at Kingston, N.Y., on October 26, 1859.  He attended the parish school there and made his high school course and his first two college years at St. Vincent's college at Beatty, Penna.  He then spent six years at the Grand Seminary in Montreal, devoting two years to philosophy and four years to theology.  He was ordained to the priesthood in 1883.  His first appointment was to Mount Loretto, Staten Island, a home for orphan boys and girls.  He remained there for thirteen years until he was made pastor of St. Catherine's [sic] in Pelham in 1897.  On January 2, 1912, Father McNichol was made a gentleman-in-waiting on the person of the pope with the title of monsignor.

Rev. Daniel J. Downing, who has been assistant to Monsignor McNichol since 1921, was born in New York city November 8, 1896.  He was graduated from public school 11 in that city in January 1910 and from Xavier High school in June, 1913.  He then attended Cathedral college and was graduated from that school in June, 1915.  The next six years were spent at St. Joseph's seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., two years devoted in philosophy and four to theology.  He was ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 1921."  

Source:  Church Began as a Mission -- St. Catherine's Roman Catholic, North Pelham, Has Had Growth that is Remarkable, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927, Special Pelham Section, p. 9, col. 1.  

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


At 11:59 PM, Blogger James PB said...

I attended St. Catherine's from 1951 to 1959 (and was an altar boy). During my second Mass my altar boy partner didn't show up and I panicked and totally screwed up the ringing of the bells.

I has church goers kneeling when they should have been standing; sitting when they should have been kneeling; coming up for Communion when they should have been signing Hymns; retreating back to the pews when they should have been coming back to the altar rail for Communion.

Father Crotty was waiting for the water and wine, and I was changing the heavy prayer book from one side of the altar to the other. All this was from being a a sweating panic and ringing the bells when I shouldn't have, and not ringing them when I should have. It was a disaster.

I knew I would be going straight to Hell after that experience. Father Crotty told me not come back until I got more training. I tried to explain that my more experienced partner didn't show up. I'm 70 now but I'll never forget that day.

Another time we had Mass at St. Claire's Hall (the auditorium). Father Crotty asked me to go to the end of the stage and ask the audience of about 400 elderly women and to count their raised arms. I did exactly as he suggested. Everyone in the place raised their hands and I started counting.

45 minutes later I was still trying to count all the raised hands. Some got exhausted and started to drop their hands and made me lose count.

I panicked once again and decided to just make up a number and lie to Father Crotty and I told him that 153 would be receiving Communion. Well, about 350 all came up to the altar and Father Crotty ran well short of the little communion wafers. He started breaking them in half; then in quarters; then in eights. And then he ran out and how to go back to the Tabernackle and get more wafers.

The Church goers were by now exhausted from either keeping their arms raised for 45 minutes or for standing in line for a half hour.

Father Crotty was mad as Hell. He basically kicked me off the altar for awhile (more training).

I used to like burying the smoking incense in the back of the rectory, and a few times we snuck a taste of the wine and water. We could never figure out how it got changed into the body and blood. We figured it was "magic".

I liked St. Catherine's. Father Crotty took just the altar boys to Playland and gave us all two bucks to spend. One nun played a dirty trick on me though. All the altar boys and Father Crotty were all on the bus ready to leave and my nun refused to let me go because I missed a spelling word that morning. I was mortified. I was ready to die with embarassment and disappointment. I guess she had a mean streak in her. I hope she's in Purgatory for a few million years for that trick. I eventually got on the bus though.

My favorite nun of all time was Sister Mary Claire. She was the best ever.


Post a Comment

<< Home