Where were you 70 years ago?
In the early 1950s, thousands of people were moving to the newly-constructed homes in Massapequa and Massapequa Park. The growth of residents in the greater Massapequa area captured the attention of Bishop Thomas Molloy of the Brooklyn Diocese, and he decided to create a new Catholic parish there.
In 1952, Rev. John Fagan was appointed to be the pastor of a new parish in Massapequa. He named the new parish St. Rose of Lima, in honor of his mother. However, a serious illness prevented him from undertaking the pastoral assignment. As a result, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Edmund Fitzgerald of Corpus Christi parish in Mineola undertook the work of locating and purchasing 4.5 acres on Merrick Road in Massapequa, and so the history of St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church begins.
In November 1952, Fr. Francis Burns was appointed Pastor, beginning his ministry in what had been a large white summer mansion built in the 1860's, which was to serve as the rectory and church for several years.
On November 16, 1952, more than 1400 parishioners attended Mass. It was estimated that the parish encompassed 1900 families and the original schedule of two Masses on Sunday increased to four. Within weeks, a choir was formed as an organ was donated from a neighboring parish, St. William the Abbot in Seaford. Plans were also developed to begin a parish school and convent. Laymen and women enthusiastically supported the creation of the Rosary and Altar Societies as well as the Holy Name Society.
In 1955, the first census revealed that there were 2500 families in the parish. With the death of Fr. Francis Burns in December 1958, Fr. Joseph Colligan served as temporary parish administrator until the appointment of Fr. Hugh Graham as pastor in March 1959.
During Fr. Graham's pastorate, ground was broken for a 24 classroom school and a convent capable of housing 20 Sisters. Completed in 1960, the school was opened for grades 1-6, later expanding through the eighth grade in 1963. The school was staffed by The Amityville Dominican Sisters and Sr. Francis Marie served as principal.
In 1963, construction began to build a new church. It was blessed in March 1965, by Bishop Walter Kellenberg, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Although Fr. Graham retired in 1975, he remained in residence until his death in November 1981. During his tenure numerous ministries and programs were created as laypeople began to take a greater role in the parish as a result of the directive of Vatican II. Also during this time, several men from St. Rose entered programs leading to the Permanent Diaconate.
Fr. Ronald Barry became the pastor of St. Rose in 1975. During Fr. Barry's pastorate, even more ministries and programs were created for both the young and the old, and the Summer Family Festival also began. Fr. Barry improved the Religious Education Program, inaugurated the Peace and Justice program and brought in Sister Loyola Curtin to oversee the Parish Outreach program. Fr. Barry encouraged several men to enter the Permanent Diaconate program and eventually saw five deacons serving at St. Rose. Fr. Barry was also instrumental in the development of the Interfaith Clergy Council of the Greater Massapequas.
Upon Fr. Barry's retirement in 1995, Monsignor Daniel Hurley became the pastor of St. Rose until 2008. Msgr. Hurley was succeeded by Rev. Kenneth M. Zach, who was officially installed as pastor on January 10, 2009, and served a 13 year term, ending in June 2021. Rev. Gerard Gentleman is the newly assigned pastor of St. Rose of Lima who was officially installed, as our 7th pastor, on October 3, 2021.
St. Rose of Lima has been blessed with the love, support and contributions of more than 6,000 families. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2002 with joy in our hearts and profound gratitude to Almighty God. We are one spiritual family, bound together in friendship and unity.
On November 15th, 2012 we celebrated a beautiful Mass in honor of our 60th anniversary at 7:30 pm. As we look to the future and our 70th anniversary in 2022, and we thank God for all those who have been part of our past. As our parish continues to grow, we will strive to respond to your needs by developing new ministries and programs, and we will continue to bring the healing touch and unconditional love of Jesus to our parishioners and the community. Each and every one of you is an important part of the St. Rose family. We look forward to serving you and your families in the years to come.
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