Our Community Grows, c. 1900 – c. 1957

By October, 1923, a parish census showed 140 families where both spouses were Catholic, and 260 families where only one spouse was Catholic. There were then 859 Catholics in the parish. A Sunday School held at the time averaged 135 youngsters in attendance. Fifty were baptized that year; 26 made Holy Communion; thirteen couples were married; and there were 16 deaths.

Vintage post card view of the front entrance to St. Boniface School.

The “diamond-in-the-rough” who followed Father Sloane as pastor is still remembered by some in the community: Reverend Patrick J. Ford (1926-1937). Irish-born, with a tough exterior, he was the sort of pastor who visited his flock, family by family. Carrying forward Father Sloane’s dream, the school became his great effort, and it was brought to a reality at a cost of a quarter-million dollars. It opened in September, 1928, with an initial enrollment of 150 pupils, and the Sisters of Mercy of Dallas, Pennsylvania were enlisted to teach.

When the Great Depression hit the country, it seriously affected St. Boniface Martyr Parish. Few could meet pledges made in good faith, and the church was burdened with debt. Father Ford, in 1932, organized a “conference” of the St. Vincent de Paul Society as one bulwark against personal need suffered by the parishioners and others in Sea Cliff during those stark days. To make matters worse, in 1936, an arsonist set fire to the church building on three occasions, causing heavy damage and adding to the financial debt of the parish.

When Father Ford was moved to St. Sylvester’s in Brooklyn, he was succeeded by Reverend Charles B. Garvey (1937-46), a native of Cutchogue who was one of the first vocations from Suffolk County. During his pastorate, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) was organized, the Confraternity of the Rosary was begun, and the Carmelite Third Order set up a chapter here.

During W.W.II parishioners knitted scarves, held blood-banks, rolled bandages, sat fire-watches, and entertained “the Boys” from Mitchell Field and Roslyn Air Base. They whispered about the strange boats quartered at Fyfe’s Shipyard in Glenwood Landing that were tested up and down the harbor (which they later learned were the “PT Boats” of Pacific fame). They wrote a lot of V-Mail letters and also held special prayer services for a victorious D-Day. As a matter of fact, they did a lot of praying! During the war, more than 400 men and women of St. Boniface served in the armed forces and of these, 15 made the supreme sacrifice of their lives.

During the era of post-world war prosperity, many Catholic families moved out to the suburbs and into the parish. Despite the return to better times, many still felt the pinch of the long depression. To aid them in adjusting financially, while helping them avoid the high interest rates of the loan companies, a cooperative credit union was established among the parishioners. Small loans at very low interest rates were of untold value.

Father Garvey died as pastor in 1946, and was succeeded within a month by the Reverend William J. Gately. Under Father Gately’s leadership, the parish debt was paid off, and the church, school, convent and rectory were repaired and redecorated.

In May, 1947, a census revealed that the parish had grown to 1,198 families representing 3,645 individuals. During Father Gately’s stay, the parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1948, with a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving, with the Most Reverend Thomas E. Molloy, Bishop of Brooklyn, presiding. Father Gately was instrumental in establishing a Mothers’ Club as a support for the parochial school.

In 1952, Reverend Thomas W. Smiddy succeeded Father Gately. After a year of dedicated pastoral work Father Smiddy, in 1953, was transferred to the Chancery Office in Brooklyn where he was eventually elevated to Papal Chamberlain as a Very Reverend Monsignor. In exchange, the man who held that post in Brooklyn, Very Reverend Monsignor Vincent J. Baldwin, came to St. Boniface. He was aided in his adjustment to the life of pastor by Fathers O’Mara and Canning, who had long served in the parish. Three years later, Monsignor Baldwin left for St. Aloysius in Great Neck, and was succeeded by the Reverend John J. Fee.

Since three successive pastors, Fathers Gately, Smiddy and Baldwin, had each won high office in the Church after leaving St. Boniface, it was said at the time that a priest apparently “is never simply transferred from St. Boniface — he’s promoted!”

About a year after Father Fee’s arrival, an important change occurred. The Brooklyn Diocese had, from 1853, extended control over the entire length of Long Island. In May 1957, Nassau and Suffolk counties were separated from the old order and designated as a new diocese with its seat at Rockville Centre. The Most Reverend Walter P. Kellenberg became the new Bishop. At this time, Father Fee’s devotion to Mary was recognized and he was appointed director of the Legion of Mary for the new diocese, a post which he held until his death.

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.


History of St. Boniface Martyr School, 1928 – 1990

 

We  would very much like to stay in touch with our alumni of St. Boniface Martyr School.  As we celebrate the 100th year of Catholic school education on the Gold Coast, we also commemorate the 86th Anniversary of the opening of St. Boniface School, in 1928.  To stay informed about alumni news and events from St. Boniface School,  please complete and submit a St. Boniface School Alumni registration form.

 

Vintage post card view of the front entrance to St. Boniface School.

Vintage post card view of the front entrance to St. Boniface School.

The dream of establishing a Catholic school at St. Boniface Martyr Parish began in 1898, when the parish was established. Father James Donohoe, the first pastor, expressed a strong desire to see a parochial school created for the children of parish families. The idea stayed alive in the 1920’s, when Father Louis Sloane, the pastor at the time, began to set aside money each year to be used in building the school.

His successor, Father Patrick Ford, went a step further by organizing a fund drive to raise $50,000 of the $250,000 needed for the school’s construction. The support given by the parishioners was such that the money was donated or pledged within only a few weeks. Combined with the funds set aside by Father Sloane, that money was sufficient to buy the Amrhein Farm on which the school was to be built, and to hire Architect James O’Connor  to design the structure.

In November, 1927, ground was broken and Frank A. Droesch, Inc., a construction firm from Queens, began working on the building. The work was completed in time for the school to open its doors in September, 1928. On June 23, 1928, the Sisters of Mercy from Dallas, Pennsylvania arrived and began registering children for entry into grades 1 through 6. Another grade was to be added each year until all 8 grades were included.

The new school opened on September 10, 1928, with an initial registration of 150 students. The building contained 10 classrooms, 2 indoor playgrounds, lunchrooms, a kitchen, restrooms, offices, a clinic, storerooms, and a large auditorium. Bishop Thomas F. Malloy of the Diocese of Brooklyn formally dedicated the school on September 16, 1928, at a ceremony attended by more than 1000 people.

In June 1931, the first 8th grade class (14 students) graduated, leading the way for the 59 graduating classes that followed it into the world.

First Graduating Class, St. Boniface School 1931

Over the subsequent decades, enrollment at St. Boniface grew (to nearly 600 students, at one point) and the building was expanded to accommodate the students. In 1962, a library and gymnasium were added and 8 new classrooms were opened. In 1963, student services were expanded to include a 5-day hot lunch program staffed by volunteers from the Mothers’ Club (later the Home School Association).

For 36 years, St. Boniface provided its students with a free education but, in 1964, economic factors forced the introduction of a modest family tuition schedule. The school continued to change. In 1969, a playground was built on school property with the help of many community volunteers. In 1976, nursery and Pre-K programs were begun, and, in 1977, the first kindergarten class started. By that time, lay teachers had replaced most of the Sisters of Mercy.  In the Autumn of 1989 enrollment was approximately 220 students.  In its 62 years of existence, St. Boniface Martyr School graduated over 2,000 pupils.

On June 24, 1989, St. Boniface Martyr School joyfully celebrated its 60th anniversary with a reunion dinner chaired by Kathleen and John Ahearn. Many of the school’s 2,000 graduates returned for the event.

Throughout its existence, St. Boniface Martyr School served as a superb example of academic excellence in Catholic education.

In 1990, the parish schools of St. Boniface, St. Mary in Roslyn, St. Patrick in Glen Cove and St. Hyacinth in Glen Head regionalized to form All Saints Regional Catholic School, a new entity designed to supported by those four parishes, joined by St. Rocco Parish of Glen Cove.  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 families whose children who attended the school. Since then however, space made available by the closing of the St. Boniface School building has been put to good use, and All Saints Regional Catholic School is thriving.

Click here to read the history of All Saints Regional Catholic School.

 St. Boniface School Principals

1928-35

Sr. M. Adrian Gillespie, RSM

1935-36

Sr. M. Gonzaga Kehoe, RSM

1936-37

Sr. M. Constance Dolan, RSM

1937-38

Sr. M. Andrew Hennigan, RSM

1938-39

Sr. M. Cornelia Dever, RSM

1939-51

Sr. M. Isabel Sheerin, RSM

1951-57

Sr. M. Philip Dillon, RSM

1957-60

Sr. M. Gemma Brennan, RSM

1960-66

Sr. M. Maureen McGroarty, RSM

1966-69

Sr. M. Philip Dillon, RSM

1969-70

Sr. M. Elizabeth Guckavan, RSM

1970-71

Sr. M. Clare Dougherty, RSM

1971-76

Sr. M. Jeanne d’Arc Salinger, RSM

1976-77

Sr. M. Elizabeth Guckavan, RSM

1977-81

Mrs. Elaine Lawless

1981-89

Sr. Margaret McPeak, DW

1989-90

Mrs. Lenora Brisotti

 

History of All Saints Catholic School, 1990 – Present

All Saints Regional Catholic School is located in this beautiful historic building on the campus of St. Patrick Parish in Glen Cove.

In 1995, Sister Maureen Vellon, R.S.H.M. was appointed as principal of ASR.

In 1995, Sister Maureen Vellon, R.S.H.M. was appointed as principal of ASR.

Sr. Maureen was succeeded by James V. Thompson, who served until his retirement at the end of the school year 2011-12.

Sr. Maureen was succeeded by James V. Thompson, who served until his retirement at the end of the school year 2011-12.

 

Fr. Elias Carr, appointed Headmaster of ASR, 2012

Fr. Elias Carr, appointed Headmaster of ASR, 2012

Joanne Fitzgerald, appointed Academic Dean of ASR, 2012

Joanne Fitzgerald, appointed Academic Dean of ASR, 2012

In 1990, the parish schools of St. Boniface, St. Mary in Roslyn, St. Patrick in Glen Cove and St. Hyacinth in Glen Head regionalized to form All Saints Regional Catholic School, a new entity designed to supported by those four parishes, joined by St. Rocco Parish of Glen Cove.

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 families whose children who attended the school. Since then however, space made available by the closing of the building has been put to good use, and All Saints Regional Catholic School is now well established and thriving, having gone from strength to strength to reach the top echelon of Catholic schools on Long Island.

Under diocesan direction and the leadership of its first principal, Sister Helen Dolan, S.S.N.D., All Saints Regional Catholic 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).  All grades are now consolidated in the school building on the St. Patrick’s parish campus, allowing for total technological integration of all classrooms, leading the school into the 21st Century.

All of the schools’ grades are now located at the former St. Patrick’s School building, allowing for total technological integration of all classrooms, leading the school into the 21st Century.   As of the 2012-13 school year, all of the school’s classrooms have been equipped with the latest “SMART Board” technology.

In April, 2012 it was announced that ASR would follow a new, innovative, academic vision.  Fr. Elias Carr, Pastor of St. Rocco’s and one of the Canons Regular of the Canonry of Saint Leopold who serve at St. Patrick’s and St. Rocco’s parishes was appointed as ASR’s first Headmaster, to be assisted by an Academic Dean, Joanne Fitzgerald.  The new administration has reinvigorated the school with a continued emphasis on high-quality Catholic education.

The school is supported by each of the five parishes and the school board is comprised of each parish’s pastor and two representatives appointed by that pastor. St. Boniface is represented by parishioners Síghle Lynch and Kevin Horton.