Approaching a New Century, c. 1980 – c. 1999

Fr. Mike Torpey

Fr. Mike Torpey

In June, 1989, a new pastor, Reverend Michael J. Torpey, arrived at St. Boniface.

Shortly after his arrival, in response to senior members of the parish, Father Torpey hired Sister Mary Butler, O.P., to begin a senior outreach program. (In 1995, after being elected Regional Director of her order, Sister Mary moved on, but the successful program has continued). Other staff changes came when Sr. Margaret McPeak retired as school principal and Mrs. Lenora Brisotti was appointed. In June of 1990, Ita Levesque, longtime director of the parish Religious Education Program, moved on to become the director at St. Brigid’s Parish, and Father Torpey appointed Julie Byrne as administrator of the program.

In June of 1991, the parish schools of St. Boniface, St. Mary’s in Roslyn, and St. Patrick’s in Glen Cove and St. Hyacinth’s in Glen Head regionalized to form All Saint’s Regional Catholic School, supported by those parishes and St. Rocco’s of Glen Cove

Under diocesan direction and the leadership of principal Sister Helen Dolan, S.S.N.D., the school began on two campuses with a nursery through third grade at the Lower Campus (St. Hyacinth’s) and grades four through eight on the Upper Campus (St. Patrick’s).

In 1995, Sister Maureen Vellon, R.S.H.M. was appointed as principal of ASR. At present, 40 of the approximately 400 students are St. Boniface parishioners, and the school continues to flourish. In the fall of 1999, all grades will be located on St. Patrick’s parish property, allowing for total technological integration of all classrooms, leading the school into the 21st Century.

The school is supported by each of the five parishes and the school board is comprised of each parish’s pastor and representatives appointed by that pastor.

The decision to regionalize the schools and close the St. Boniface School building made for a very painful time in the parish, especially for the parents and children who attended. Since then however, space made available by the closing of the building has been put to good use. For much of the 1990’s, the third floor of the school had been rented to St. Christopher Ottilie Home, and during that time the the parish offices were moved to the lower level.

Update, 2017:  Since about 2002, AHRC has leased and renovated the lowest level of the building, where they run a private school.  The three classroom levels of the building now provides classroom space for the children who attend the the parish’s religious education program.  The Gym has been renovated and provides both practice and game space for the parish’s CYO program and a venue for the parish’s social events.

The priests’ residence was moved back to the old rectory building, now renovated, and the building directly across the street from the church, which had served as a convent or rectory at various times has also been renovated and now houses the parish offices, a chapel, a youth center and meeting rooms for the parish. 

In time, it became clear that Father Torpey considered liturgy a major focus of his ministry. Nowhere was that more evident than at the family liturgy celebrated each Sunday. At ease with children, he fostered liturgy where children were both comfortable and involved. “If we focus on kids, it creates a focus on the family,” said Father Torpey. “If the children know they’re loved, it involves the whole family and it helps the parish to celebrate that love in the present; which, in turn, prepares us for the future.” This focus attracted many new young families to the parish. Liturgical music continued to be important, with Jeffrey Schneider as the music director. To assist the pastor in keeping a clear feel on the pulse of parish finances, in 1993, Father Torpey hired Eileen Krieb to help oversee parish business and finance. On June 6, 1993, the parish joined in the celebration of Father Torpey’s 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood with a mass followed by a lovely garden party.

Focus on the parish’s 100th anniversary (1998) began in 1993, with an elegant dinner dance at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, where parishioners, Ceil Herbert and Robert Bolger, were honored. It was the first of many Centennial celebrations. Reflecting on the Centennial, Father Torpey praised the work of the previous pastors. He pointed out Father Diederich’s work with liturgy and Father Fee’s strong sense of Church and how they have provided a foundation to present celebrations, involving some of the same people who worked with these previous pastors.

In 1995, St. Boniface became a one-priest parish when Father Camilleri (Reggie), who had won the hearts of parishioners in his seven years here, left St. Boniface to do further study. We gained Sr. Kathleen Murphy, O.P., however, who was appointed pastoral associate and has proved to be an invaluable asset to the parish as it continues to grow. Sr. Kathleen assists the pastor in the many aspects of running a parish and also conducts some liturgical services. Besides supporting parish programs already in existence, in 1996, Sr. Kathleen started a new program, M.O.M.S n’ Tots, for mothers of pre-schoolers.

In 1996, the parish embarked on a diocesan Stewardship Program. Consciousness-raising on its theme of giving back time, talent and treasure in thanksgiving for all God has provided has been an impetus for parish growth. This program has not only improved the parish’s financial situation, but has put new blood into volunteerism. Consequently, appreciation for the many gifts already shared within the parish community has grown among parishioners.

St. Boniface Martyr Parish began its preparation for the Jubilee Year of 2000 on Christmas Eve, 1998, when the front doors of the church were closed and draped with a Jubilee Banner, to remain closed until Christmas Eve 1999, when they were ceremoniously reopened, just as Pope John Paul II opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, to symbolize the Church’s “Opening Wide the Doors to Christ” at the dawn of the Third Millennium.

Our Parish at the start of the New Millennium

The dawn of St. Boniface Martyr Parish’s second century began not long before the end of the 20th Century, as the Church prepared for the Jubilee Year declared for 2000 by Pope John Paul II.  On Christmas Eve, 1998, the front doors of the church were closed and draped with a Jubilee Banner, by our then Pastor, Fr. Michael J. Torpey, to remain closed until Christmas Eve 1999, when they were ceremoniously reopened, just as Pope opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, to symbolize the Church’s “Opening Wide the Doors to Christ” at the dawn of the Third Millennium.

The Internet Age

Our parish also marked the coming of the new millennium by becoming one of the first parishes on Long Island to establish a presence on the internet, launching a website at www.saintboniface.org, on October 15, 1999.  With the rise of “social media”, the parish has also developed Facebook pages and uses such tools as Twitter, Instagram and a YouTube channel.  The weekly parish bulletin and newsletters are distributed posted digitally on these platforms and are also sent by email to over 500 online subscribers.

As St. Boniface Martyr Parish celebrated its Centennial in 1997 and 1998, and the Jubilee in 1999 and 2000, the same strong sense of community that had started this parish was still going strong. Many prayers and thanks go to those who have gone before us and have provided the faith community with all that it needed to sustain its first one hundred years. We pray that God will continue to bless our parish, providing it with the gifts it needs to flourish in the future.


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