St. James, Seaford

MARY IAPALUCCI | TLIC

Parish: St. James
Address: 80 Hicksville Rd.,
Seaford, N.Y., 11783
Phone: 516-731-3710
Web site:  www.stjamesrcchurch.org
Sunday Mass schedule:
Saturday: 4 p.m.
Sunday: Sun. 7:30; 8:45; 10; 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m
Daily Mass schedule: Mon. – Fri.:  8:30 a.m. & 12:10 p.m. (except July & Aug.), Sat. 8 a.m.
Registered families: 5,000
Pastor: Father John Derasmo

When St. James Parish in Seaford was founded in 1951, its first pastor, Father William Delaney, was presented with a three-acre parcel of land in what was then called Plainedge. The land held only a farm house, with no electricity or running water, and a large chicken coop. Before long (after a quick fumigation) the chicken coop became a chapel and the first Mass was celebrated there for 350 parishioners on October 12, 1951.

Last July, as part of the parish’s 60th anniversary, parishioners paid tribute to their roots with a Founders Mass in their original “chicken coop” chapel which was moved to SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Manorville in 1993.

Today, St. James’ large parish community worships in its third church building, dedicated in 1994, and tries to carry out its mission “to be a visible sign of Christ” to the surrounding community. Father John Derasmo, who became pastor in 2010, said the people of St. James are “friendly, warm and welcoming” and willing to get involved.

For example, he said, when he asked for people to train as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, 34 people signed up. When the parish was deciding whether to have a carnival this year, 300 people came forward to help.

The parish grew quickly with a large number of families settling in the area. Within four years of its founding, there were over 2,000 children needing religious education and the Sisters of the Cross and Passion from Rhode Island arrived in 1957 to organize a religious education program. The sisters also helped staff the parish school which operated from 1962 to 1992.

The former school building now serves as a parish center with space for offices, group and ministry meetings and the religious education program for 1,600 students. Educating children and adults is one of the parish’s biggest and most important challenges. Father Derasmo hopes to continue the efforts of Bishop Murphy’s Belong More Deeply campaign to reach out to Catholic families who aren’t coming to Mass. The parish starts its outreach at a young age, with a baptismal ministry that has volunteer couples meeting with families wishing to baptize a child. These couples provide a “human face of the parish” for newcomers, Father Derasmo said.

At a new event, “A Night in Bethlehem,” the auditorium is transformed into the town of Jesus’ birth, with actors of all ages and live animals in the nativity scene. It is an opportunity for parishioners of different generations to come together, according to Father Derasmo.