Parish: Church of St. Mary
Address: 1300 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, N.Y. 11030
Sunday Mass schedule: Sat.: 5 p.m.; Sun.: 7:30, 9, 10:30 a.m., noon and 5 p.m.
Daily Mass schedule: Mon.-Fri.: 7 and 9 a.m. (and noon during Lent), Sat. 8 a.m.
Registered families: 3,250
Pastor: Msgr. John J. McCann
Just a few blocks west down Northern Blvd. from Manhasset’s “Miracle Mile” stands St. Mary’s Church where a large, gray statue known as “the Madonna of Manhasset,” watches over traffic on the busy thoroughfare. St. Mary’s is a large and busy parish marked by its commitment to educational ministry. The parish elementary school has 460 students. The high school registration is just shy of 800 this year. An additional 1,000 students are enrolled in the religious education program, including about 60 students in high school level classes.
Adult faith formation opportunities range from Faith Express, which are short presentations offered for adults while junior-high aged children are taking their classes, to a currently running six-week course on “The Crucifixion in History, Theology and Art.”
Msgr. John J. McCann, a graduate of St. Mary H.S., and pastor here since 1998, cites the “generosity of the parishioners to the schools and parish at large” as a main characteristic of the community. “Everyone is generous with their talents and treasures,” he said, adding that the students in the schools from the youngest grades are always involved in acts of charity. The parish outreach program helps not only the poor in the parish area, but assists other parishes whenever possible.
St. Mary’s parish traces its roots back to the 1850s when it was a mission of St. Michael’s Parish, Flushing. Twice a month, St. Michael’s pastor would celebrate Mass in Manhasset for the area Catholics, most of whom were Irish and German farmers. When St. Michael’s built a new church in 1856, its old wooden building was shipped to Manhasset and became the first St. Mary’s, located on Plandome Road. It was used until the present church was completed in 1917.
Although St. Mary’s received its first resident pastor in 1863, over the next few years the parish reverted to mission status on and off. In 1871, it became a mission of St. Mary’s, Roslyn. After St. Peter of Alcantara parish was established in 1897 in Port Washington, St. Mary’s, Manhasset, became a mission of that parish. In March, 1912, St. Mary’s became its own parish again, this time for good, with the arrival of pastor Father William Dwyer.
It was Father Dwyer who chose the distinctive Spanish mission style of the current church building on Northern Blvd., which was modeled after the San Luis Rey mission in California. The parish school was opened in 1926, staffed by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Scranton.
The high school was completed in 1950 with the Marist Brothers teaching the boys and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary teaching the girls. In 1952, permission was granted to expand the church and a unique plan was adopted that added additional seating behind the altar. Mass can be celebrated with the priest facing either section of seating. A carved wooden scene of Christ’s crucifixion hangs suspended from the ceiling over the altar with two bodies of Jesus, one facing the new, and one facing the old sections of the church. At the foot of the cross are statues of the Blessed Mother and St. John.
In 2003, a building campaign helped to build additional classrooms in the lower church, a new wing on the elementary school, a full-size high school gym and a parish ministry center. The project also included a new main entrance for the church with a large gathering space in what was once the back of the church.
The parish has many active ministries and organizations to meet the needs of its population including a large CYO sports program, family Mass and a group called FOCUS (Friends Offering Care, Understanding and Support for the divorced, single or widowed).