In 1939, Catholics in Garnerville attended Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s mission church, formerly Foresters’ Hall, on Railroad Avenue. With the opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge, non-stop home construction in the area began to cause continual overcrowding at Mass. After many meetings with St. Peter’s Pastor, Fr. John S. Dougherty, the answer came early in 1961.
The Archdiocese of New York purchased 55 acres of land on Cinder Road – The Burck Property – and subsequently announced the establishment of a new Parish. That Spring, hordes of people began to prepare the “house on the hill”, our first rectory. They scraped and cleaned, painted and papered, added some basic furniture, a new lawn and shrubs.
On June 16, 1961 Fr. Thomas Darby drove up that bumpy, dirt driveway, and was greeted by cheers and applause of welcome. Our new pastor has arrived! Mass, the following day, officially established the opening of St. Gregory Barbarigo Roman Catholic Church – on our patron saint’s feast day!
A mass schedule quickly followed; a parish census began; the Holy Name Society and Altar and Rosary Society were installed. The most crowded Mass at 10:00 A.M. was first moved to Low Tor Skating Rink, and in the Fall, to the Birchwood Bungalows on Rosman Road. Ground was broken for an “all-purpose” building on October 24th, and thanks to a very special swift construction schedule, Christmas Midnight Mass was celebrated in the just-completed structure on December 24, 1961.
CCD classes began in local homes in January 1962. A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held on January 23, 1963 for the new school and convent. In September, school began in private homes and at St. Augustine’s in New City. The school opened on April 16, 1964….. the convent that July.
The “all-purpose” building had become our permanent place of worship. After several renovations, a massive rebuilding effort took its initial steps in the spring of 1993. A peaked roof over the nave, a new narthex or gathering space, new pews and a totally redesigned interior completed the transformation of the Lord’s House.
The more things change. The more they stay the same. New faces…new rituals…new movements come along..and old ones fade. But the Parish remains, helping people to do what they were created to do….to know, love and serve the Lord in this world so as to be happy with Him in the next.