Parish: Church of St. Mary
Address: 20 Harrison Avenue, East Islip, N.Y., 11730
Sunday Mass schedule: Sat: 5 p.m.; Sunday 7:30, 9:15, 10:45, 11 a.m. 12:15 and 5 p.m.
Daily Mass schedule: Mon-Fri.: 7:30 and 9 a.m.,
Sat.: 8:30 a.m.
Registered families: 6,200
Pastor: Father Donald E. Babinski
St. Mary’s Church in East Islip has its roots in two St. Patrick’s churches. Originally a mission of St. Patrick’s in Huntington in the early 1800s, St. Mary became a mission of St. Patrick’s in Bay Shore when that parish was established in 1883.
St. Mary’s got its first church building in 1879 when a group of area Catholics purchased the old St. Mark’s Episcopal Church for $510 and had it moved a few blocks east on Montauk Highway to its current location. St. Mark’s was getting a new, grander church thanks to parishioner William K. Vanderbilt, who wanted a more spectacular venue for his daughter’s wedding.
A few years later, in 1898, St. Mary received its first resident pastor and was established as its own parish. The congregation of 150 to 200 people was made up mostly of workers on the large estates in the area. Soon after, work began on the present church, which was completed in 1902. (The old St. Mark’s building still stands next door.)
The stained glass windows do not depict the usual saints and Bible scenes. Instead, they are mostly colored glass panels with small symbols, such as wheat and grapes, at the top. Current pastor, Father Donald Babinski, surmises that this made the church more acceptable during an era of anti-Catholic bias when there were even ordinances against building Catholic churches on some parts of Long Island. Inside the church, which was renovated in 1997, a choir of angels holds banners with the titles of Our Lady.
The School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived to open the parish school in 1914.
“This is a welcoming community with strong bonds,” said Father Babinski. “It is old enough to have several generations that have been here and faith is an important part of their lives.” The parish offers many ministries to help in living that faith, stressing ongoing formation for all ages.
In addition to the school and religious education classes, educational opportunities range from family faith formation programs that begin at baptism, to spirituality groups for seniors. There are book discussion groups and family movie nights, Bible study and prayer groups. A shawl ministry meets regularly to make shawls, baby hats and lap blankets; each one with prayers said for the person who will receive it. A men’s spirituality group is currently gaining membership.
In addition to First Friday Eucharistic adoration, the parish also holds a Holy Hour to pray for vocations on the third Monday of the month.
The parish social ministry office provides services for many — from food and financial help to counseling and support groups — and the parish has a strong and active consolation ministry.
Last year the parish reintroduced a family festival in May after a 20-year absence.