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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.



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The following helpful site gives some history: link here.
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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. 
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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.
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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.