History of The Church Of St. Gregory The Great

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Pastor: Joseph P. Cunningham

"The parish always remains the atmosphere, the community in which the Christian Life of each Christian is formed and developed" John Paul II in stressing the importance of the parish life.

Father William J. McLaughlin was appointed as the first pastor of our Church in 1936. Upon his arrival he found the spirit of self-sacrifice and the genuine Catholic faith of the many inhabitants of Bellerose who had prayed long and earnestly for their own Church. Until Father McLaughlin's appointment they had been traveling in all sorts of weather to worship at Our Lady of Victory Church in Floral Park or Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Queens Village. On the first Sunday of the new Mission's existance, June 21, 1936, more than one thousand people attended Masses offered in Moose Hall on Jamaica Avenue. Before the graceful lines of our church came into being there were many days of primitive existance. For a time, daily Mass was celebrated in the temporary rectory, a private home belonging to the Gallagher family at 90th Avenue and Commonwealth Boulevard. Later on, a store was rented on the south side of Jamaica Avenue to the west of Commonwealth Boulevard. Sunday Masses, meanwhile, were celebrated in the Bellerose Theater. On December 22nd,1936 Father McLaughlin broke ground for our church. Its cornerstone was blessed by Right Reverend Maurice Fitzgerald, Pastor of St. Gregory the Great, Brooklyn, on Sunday, March 7th, 1937. Fifteen hundred parishioners attended Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the partially completed structure. In January of 1947, Father Daniel J. Halloran was installed as Pastor. Being a man of vision, he foresaw the growth of the community during the post World War II era and secured different parcels of property, including a square block on the east side of the Cross Island Parkway. Of paramount importance to a parish where many young families were settling was a school. Father McLaughlin's dream of a parochial school had never been realized; but Father Halloran turned it into a reality. Saint Gregory The Great School came into being and opened its doors in September 1953 with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa, serving on the faculty. Archbishop Molloy visited Bellerose on June 27, 1954, to dedicate the school building. In 1959, through the generosity of the people of St. Gregory's, Father Halloran was succussful for a second time in constructing the convent. Not content with achievement and realizing the need for additional classrooms as well as a hall to serve as a parish auditorium, Father Halloran went to the drawing boards once again. Gregorian Hall arose in 1964 on the site of the athletic field at the west end of the school. It won second prize for Architectural Excellence from the Queens Chamber of Commerce. During the early 1990's under the stewardship of Father Joseph P. Cunningham and the grateful generosity of the people of St. Gregory's Parish, our temporary Church-Auditorium was made permanent. On May 10th, 1996, Bishop Thomas V. Daley, the Bishop of Brooklyn, dedicated the new Church.