Saturday, July 29, 2017

Decrees of Relegation. June 30, 2017

The archbishop has signed decrees relegating certain churches of the archdiocese for profane, not sordid, use. This canonically clears the way for their sale or lease. The list is linked HERE and may disappear soon from the archdiocesan website. Note that this list of properties "up for sale" is limited to churches. Properties other than churches do not require this type of decree.

In The Bronx, the list includes
St. Ann, Bainbridge Avenue, pastor Rev. Raul Miguez. This church is inside a school that was closed in June, 2017. Nearby Montefiore Hospital keeps buying up the neighborhood, so I would not be surprised if St. Ann's will go to Montefiore.
Visitation (a relatively new church on Van Cortlandt Park South), pastor Father Michael Kerrigan.
Warning: I may have misread some of the decrees in this list, as both halves of each merger are named in the text but only one building is deconsecrated. Please inform me of any error!
In Manhattan: Nativity Church on Second Avenue between Second and Third Streets. I consider the "modern" design of this church a box used as a gathering place of worship.
The church of Most Holy Crucifix on Broome Street.
The church of St. John the Martyr, a former Presbyterian church on East 72nd Street, purchased for Bohemian Catholics in 1904.
The church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary on East 83rd Street.
The church of St. Lucy on East 104th Street.
The church of St. Paul on East 117th Street, not St. Paul the Apostle at West 60th Street.
The church of St. Gregory the Great on West 90th Street. One building contains the church, the school above the church, and the rectory above the school!
The church of St. Benedict the Moor on West 53rd Street.
The church of All Saints at the corner of East 129th Street and Madison Avenue, This landmarked Gothic Revival church may be the most imposing building on this list.
In Westchester: the church of St. Ursula, Mount Vernon.
The church of Sacred Heart, Mount Vernon.
The church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Port Chester.
In Dutchess County, Immaculate Conception, Bangall.
The chapel of St. Joseph in Clinton Corners.
In Sullivan County, the church of St. Thomas Aquinas in Forestburgh.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fordham University

See pages 359, 360 and 386 for the foundation of St John's College in 1841 and the transfer of its administration to Jesuits in 1846. Somewhere I have read that the name "Fordham" referred rather to an estate along the Harlem River and that Rose Hill, the 106-acre purchase made by Bishop Hughes in 1839, was at the east end of the estate. See pages 111 and 132 for references to the first diocesan synod, held at St John's College, Fordham, in 1842. In 1905, the Jesuits renamed the college Fordham. Thomas Shelley's book, the Bronx references of which I am here indexing, is rich with footnotes. See footnote #14 on page 360 for a helpful history of Fordham University. Page 421 has a photo of Keating Hall. Page 522 refers to the San Juan Fiesta at Rose Hill in 1956. Page 598 reminds the reader that The Bronx was honored with its own cardinal in 2001, Cardinal Avery Dulles, .S.J., residing at Fordham University.
In 2008, I wrote the above paragraph. In January, 2017, I had the good fortune to find in the Nassau Library System a copy of "Fordham: A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003" by Msgr. Thomas J. Shelley, Emeritus Professor of Church History at Fordham University, the same historian who wrote the Bicentennial History (with the page numbers I have been referring to throughout this blog on Bronx parishes).
Msgr. Shelley's 500-page history of the university is fascinating, insightful, and full of details and intriguing anecdotes. The author excels in placing university events in the context of New York, political, and church history. The quotes are good: Alban Butler, Church history is largely the story of quarrels between two good men. And Martin Spalding, on religious orders: too much esprit de corps and too little Catholic spirit.
One must remember that the university chapel was originally (in some form before renovations) the parish church of Our Lady of Mercy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Four Bronx schools to lose grades K-8.

Sad to report, Dr. Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York, has announced the closure of three parish schools in The Bronx, and the elimination of grades K-8 in one other.  Closed are Visitation School in Kingsbridge, where the church lost regular services in August, 2015, St. Ann School, Bainbridge Avenue, likewise with a church without regular worship, and St. Mary School, Carpenter Avenue.  The school at the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul, Brook Avenue, Morrisania, will become a Universal Pre-Kindergarden school financed by the City of New York.
Please see the link HERE.  The superintendent's euphemism is "operational changes."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Catholic New York special section 1.19.2017

Available on the internet is the special Catholic Schools Week section published 1.19.2017. A link is HERE.
The sixteen pages include high schools and elementary schools in the seven counties of the Archdiocese of New York. However, my focus is on the elementary schools of The Bronx. The sole paid advertising for Bronx elementary grades is for Mount St. Michael Academy, grades 6-12. Cardinal Hayes HS and Fordham Prep also placed ads.
One hundred forty elementary schools will have Touring Tuesday on January 31, 2017, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Of the forty-four Catholic elementary schools in The Bronx, eighteen are listed with a schedule for Open House. The special section lists school names, dates and times, but not phone numbers or addresses.  
For Bronxites living near Manhattan or Westchester, please do not overlook nearby schools, such as Good Shepherd School, one block from the Bx12 bus terminal in Inwood.
More information may be found at
Scroll down on that home page to Coming Events. Or use the information links at the top of the home page.
The New York Daily News on 1.26.2017 published an Advertising Supplement for Catholic Schools.  In several aspects, this supplement gives better coverage to Bronx Catholic elementary schools than I saw in Catholic New York (above).  The link to the Daily News supplement for Catholic schools is HERE. Don't give up when you see ads for a few New Jersey schools. Continue scrolling through the pages and you will find more Bronx schools.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Elementary school statistics

With the recent publication of the 2016 Official Catholic Directory, it is possible to look at some statistics of the Catholic elementary schools in The Bronx. Please realize that the data was probably collected more than a year ago, and some of the numbers may include pre-kindergarten enrollment, the free municipal Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program.  Also, some of the forty-four schools are listed with the same exact enrollment three years running, quite unlikely, and therefore suspect. The forty-four schools open in September, 2015, are listed in the directory as having about 14,300 students.  As St. John's-Visitation did not submit enrollments to the 2016 OCD, I use the word "about." I neglected to include Villa Maria numbers. The 2012 directory listed 17,380.
The following analysis marks schools with suspect numbers with an asterisk, usually due to round numbers or the same enrollment repeated annually.  The five elementary schools with the highest enrollments are St. Raymond (901), Immaculate Melrose (511), Santa Maria (500*), St. Lucy (498*), Sacred Heart (471), and St. Clare (452).  At the median are Holy Family (340*), St. Francis Xavier (332), and St. Athanasius (315*). Lowest numbers were Sts. Philip and James (217), St. Philip Neri (209), St. Gabriel (204), St. Thomas Aquinas (180*), and St. Nicholas of Tolentine (163).  
Also, please see the official websites:
According to the above links, the total number of elementary school students in The Bronx is 13,721, probably a more accurate figure than the OCD totals. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Choosing a Catholic High School

The Test for Admission to Catholic High Schools is accepting applicants now.  Parents are urged to look at this information site (link here)  and read each of the links in the left-hand column.  You may have to print out some of the forms and directions. The list of schools is posted sideways on the PDF, so printing those pages would help you to read the information. It would appear that the thirteen Catholic high schools of The Bronx offer 2,415 places for incoming freshmen.
Please also note the dates of the Open House visitations and the Information Fairs.
The cost of the test is $63.
You will also find an abundance of information in the 2016 Catholic High School Guide linked HERE.
For students and parents intent on Catholic high school admission, the important point is to GET MOVING, as instructed above.
The following note is of less importance. Because of my interest in Catholic education in the metropolitan area,  I list the number of seats available to freshmen in twelve counties:
The Bronx leads with 2,415 openings.
Queens, with 2,160 openings.
Manhattan, with 1.314 openings.
Staten Island, with 1,375.
Brooklyn, with 1,300 openings.
Westchester, with 1,179 openings.
Dutchess, with 190 openings.
Orange, with 110 openings.
Rockland, with 110 openings,
Ulster, with 60 openings.
Putnam and Sullivan, with no Catholic high schools.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New York Daily News Back to School Section

About August 22, 2016, the New York Daily News included a special advertising section for Back to School vendors.  Interspersed are laudatory descriptions of several Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens Catholic elementary and high schools.
Warning! Links to Daily News sections often go stale and become useless.
If you are quick, please try

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book: Who Shall Take Care of Our Sick?

Recently, I saw a reference to a 2005 book by Bernadette McCauley, Who Shall Take Care of Our Sick? Roman Catholic Sisters and the Development of Catholic Hospitals in New York City. Amazon lists copies of this book. One does not have to pay a collector's price for this slim, very informative volume. I have read the book and continue to praise it.  Not exactly a history of the Catholic hospitals in our city, it gives clear and insightful analysis of the reasons for and practice of the hospital apostolate from 1849 until the end of the 20th century.
Several constants show up in the book.  The religious Sisters ran and staffed the hospitals, and physicians chose and performed the treatments. Fund-raising was usually the responsibility of the Sisters. The types of patients and ailments changed with the quickly changing world of our city. A particular decade's problems could not be answered with out-dated treatment.
The Bronx shows up in this book in two ways. Pages 77 and 78 describe the medical college at Fordham University, 1905-1921,  a period of profound change in the training of doctors. Secondly, the book hints at the migration of three Catholic hospitals from Manhattan to The Bronx, St. Francis, St. Joseph, and Misericordia.
Only one Catholic hospital remains in the five boroughs of New York City: Calvary Hospital on Eastchester Road.  Mom volunteered at House of Calvary on Featherbed Lane, Highbridge. Calvary became a hospital in 1968.
In the early 1960's, I visited my grandmother in a large ward at St. Francis Hospital, 525 East 142 Street, in Mott Haven. In 1865, Franciscan Sisters of the Poor (Frances Schervier's congregation) founded the hospital in the German neighborhood of East 5th Street, Manhattan.  Wikipeda says it moved to Mott Haven in 1905 and closed in 1966.
Adjacent to St. Francis Hospital in Mott Haven was St. Joseph Hospital for Chest Diseases (or Consumptives), administered by the same congregation of Sisters.  Its address was 525 East 143rd Street.  A New York Times article from 6.4.1961 describes its impeding closure after 73 years. In arguing for its continuation, a staff doctor is quoted as saying that patient care there costs $10 daily as opposed to $28 in city hospitals.  I have been unable to find a previous location in Manhattan.  Maybe tuberculosis initiated its establishment in the more healthy air of The Bronx.
Professor McCauley, author of this book, mentions several times the Sisters of Misericorde, who came from Quebec in the 1880's to help single mothers in Manhattan. Their work evolved into Misericordia Hospital in Wakefield, The Bronx, about 1958.  When Misericordia (renamed Our Lady of Mercy Hospital) fell into financial distress about 2008, the hospital was purchased by Montefiore Medical Center.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Holy Rosary / Nativity of Our Blessed Lady

Above is Holy Rosary church on Eastchester Road near Gun Hill Road. See pages 484 and 486 in Thomas Shelley's book for the 1925 creation of the parish. The rectory is to the left at 1510 Adee Avenue, Bronx NY 10469, telephone 718-379-4432. The church dates from 1970, probably just before architects realized that imposing steps often impose difficulties. An alternate access is at the blue sign. Clicking on any photo enlarges it.
On August 1, 2015, the archbishop of New York merged the parish of the Nativity of Our Blessed Lady (two miles north) with that of Holy Rosary.  The parish bulletin displays the merged names.  Mass is no longer offered regularly at what was the Nativity parish church on East 233rd St.  The Mass schedule at Holy Rosary remains the same.

Above, a Catholic church that advertises the time for Bible Study!

If you click on the above bulletin pages, you might be able to read the text, which somewhat clarifies the size of the two parishes in the merger.

Above, the school in 2009.

For decades, the Presentation Sisters taught in Holy Rosary School and lived above it.  The school address is 1500 Arnow Avenue, likewise near the intersection of Gun Hill Road and Eastchester Road. The website of Holy Rosary Elementary School is linked here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

St. John - Visitation

On August 1, 2015, the Archbishop of New York merged two Kingsbridge parishes, St. John and Visitation.  The church of St. John remains open.  Both elementary schools remain open. However, Visitation church, that is ,the newer one, no longer has regular religious services, even on Sundays. The bulletin pictured below is available at the parish website, linked HERE.

Any photo may be enlarged by clicking on it.
The 2015 Official Catholic Directory gives the enrollment at St. John's School as 224, Visitation 216.
The mailing address remains 3021 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463, telephone 718-548-1221.  The parish pastoral center is around the corner at 275 West 230th Street, and its seven-day office hours are listed on the website and in the parish bulletin.  I presume that the above phone number reaches both the priests' rectory and the office, depending on hours. The office used to be in the rectory.  Some parish events are held in the Godwin Terrace School, while St. John's School is at 3143 Kingbridge Avenue, a newer building.
See pages 268 and 298 of the Bicentennial History for the creation of St. John parish on Kingsbridge Avenue, north of West 230 Street, in 1886. Previously, it had been a mission of St. Mary's, Yonkers, and after 1869 a mission of St. Elizabeth parish, Washington Heights, whose pastor, Father Henry Brann, built a chapel in Kingsbridge. This church's patron is John the Apostle and Evangelist. The parish is often called St. John's, Kingsbridge, to distinguish it from other parishes named St John. The present church dates from 1910, but was rededicated in 1966. For more than a century, the Religious of Jesus and Mary have staffed the school. For about twenty years (1950-1970?) the De La Salle Christian Brothers staffed the boys' department.

The rectory address is 3021 Kingsbridge Ave., Bronx NY 10463, telephone 718-548-1221.  In the above photo, the rectory is at the left, the church is at the right.  Ordained Augustinian Recollects staffed the parish for perhaps twenty years. The pastor of the combined parish (St. John - Visitation) in 2015 is Father Michael Kerrigan, an archdiocesan priest.
The New York Times of March 15, 1966, ran an article under the headline, "Bronx Church is Crowned with a Spire in 3 Hours," narrating how the spire arrived from Greensburgh, Pennsylvania, by truck, in several pieces.  It was assembled on the rectory lawn.  Hoisting it into place took less than from noon until 3 p.m. on March 14.  It is made of steel and aluminum with baked enamel finish. The height of the spire is 52 feet.

Over many decades, the lower church has seen much use.  In the 1940's, pews ran all the way to the back. Because of shortage of classroom space before the Godwin Terrace building was expanded, a 7th grade class was held in the rear.  In March, 2014, when these two photos were taken, parishioners were gathering for the 12:15 daily Mass.  Maybe the upper church is used on Sundays; the bulletin does not explain.

The following helpful site gives some history: link here.
The school is located two blocks north of the church, at 3143 Kingsbridge Avenue. It appears to have about 230 students, with one section per grade. 

The original convent of the Religious of Jesus and Mary stands on Godwin Terrace.  The building above on West 230th Street was built for the Sisters in 1950, but the parish reclaimed it about fifty years later, moving the Sisters to the Godwin Terrace convent.  In 2015, the above building includes the parish pastoral center.

Above is a banner over the church's main door in April, 2011.
A Facebook page has this photo of Kingsbridge Avenue, dated 1916. Looking north, it clearly shows St. John's Church, without the steeple.  The cross-street in the foreground is West 230th Street.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

St. Frances of Rome and 3 other churches in Wakefield = one parish in 2015

The parish of St. Frances of Rome includes four older separate parishes, which can be seen listed on top of the new website.  Please consult this website for current (2017) Mass schedules and staffing. The office and rectory are adjacent to the church in the 2010 photo above. The postal address is 4307 Barnes Avenue, Bronx NY 10466.
Also, please see the extensive Parish Booklet available at this link.  It lists many parish organizations and meeting schedules through 2018 and 2019.  It contains a helpful history of the parish.
Before the 1960's only the lower church existed, on the ground floor. Then a magnificent, bright upper church was added,designed by the architect Paul Waldon Reilly, who also designed the new church of St. Frances de Chantal, Throgs Neck. More recently, an elevator helps those who have difficulty with the foyer staircases.

The church, as seen from the west.
From Catholic New York: 10.15.2015:  Father Georginus Ugwu, M.S.P., who was named pastor of the newly merged parish of St. Frances of Rome-St. Anthony-St. Francis of Assisi-Our Lady of Grace, the Bronx, on Aug. 1, had previously served as temporary administrator of the Wakefield Catholic Churches of St. Frances of Rome, St. Anthony and St. Francis of Assisi since July 2014. He was pastor of the Catholic chapel and chaplain of Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Fla., 2007-2014. He was associate director and bursar of his religious congregation’s office in Houston, 2005-2007. A native of Nigeria, he earlier served there and in the Central African Republic. He was ordained for the Missionary Society of St. Paul in 2000.
In this merger of four parishes, two church buildings ended up having no regular religious services. Yet, these two (Our Lady of Grace, Bronxwood Avenue, and St. Anthony, Richardson Avenue) have not yet been canonically relegated to profane use. In a sense, they are closed but still available for use.
See pages 299 and 301 for the 1897 creation of the parish of St Frances of Rome, near East 236 Street and Barnes Avenue, Wakefield, east of White Plains Road. The present church dates from 1967. For many years, the Sisters of the Presentation taught in the parish school. The rectory address is 4307 Barnes Ave., Bronx NY 10466, telephone 718-324-5340. The pastor of this parish is also responsible for St. Anthony's on Richardson Avenue and St. Francis of Assisi on Baychester Avenue. 
For St. Francis of Assisi elementary school, please use this link.
For Our Lady of Grace elementary school, please use this link.