St. Patrick, Bay Shore


Parish: Parish of St. Patrick
Address: 9 North Clinton Avenue, Bay Shore, N.Y. 1170
Phone: (631) 665-4911
Sunday Mass schedule: Sat. 5 p.m. in Msgr. Purick Hall; Sun.: 7, 8, 9:30 a.m., noon (Spanish) and 5:30 p.m. in church; 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. in Msgr. Purick Hall
Daily Mass schedule: Mon-Fri.: 6:30 and 8 a.m.; Wed 12:10 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.
Registered families: 6,000
Pastor: Msgr. Thomas More Coogan

The grand Romanesque/Byzantine St. Patrick’s Church on Main Street in Bay Shore has been a South Shore landmark for nearly a century. Its interior paintings, icons and stained glass windows provide lessons in the history and important figures of the Catholic faith, but it is the people who pray here and take their faith out into their daily lives who are the true landmarks of the parish, according to its pastor, Msgr. Thomas Coogan.

“Our priorities here are worship first, then passing on the faith to the next generation, and outreach,” he said.

Originally a mission of St. Patrick’s in Huntington, the earliest Bay Shore Catholic community gathered in the home of dairy farmer Owen Drum for Mass. In 1863 they dedicated their first church, a converted carpenter’s shop on Fifth Avenue and Main Street. In 1883, Father James Bobier was named first pastor, officially establishing the parish, which included missions at St. Mary’s in East Islip and St. John Nepomucene in Bohemia.

The parish’s formal outreach program can trace its roots back to at least 1940 when a group of women formed the Welfare League and raised money with an annual card party to provide food and clothing for those in need. Today, parish outreach still provides food and clothing through its pantry and a soup kitchen which provides hot meals five days a week. The parish also has an advocacy office where trained volunteers help clients navigate the complex world of social service agencies. Additionally, a representative of the Department of Social Services comes to the office monthly to accept applications.

In 1921 four Sisters of Mercy traveled from Brooklyn to found St. Patrick School which today has 428 students and provides free after-school care for all students and for all parishioners in grades one through four regardless of where they go to school. Opening up the after care to non-St. Patrick students is “the school showing its gratitude to the parish for its support,” said Msgr. Coogan.

St. Patrick’s has “a well-formed population because there has been a long tradition in this parish of clergy who are excellent in adult faith formation,” said Msgr. Coogan. Former pastor Msgr. James Coffey began asking parishioners to make annual commitments to active stewardship in the early 1980s, a decade before the diocese began its stewardship program.

The parish’s own automated giving program, First Fruits, has proved to be very successful with more than 300 families participating, “who understand the spirituality of giving as an expression of gratitude for many blessings.”

The parish religious education program, with approximately 1,300 students, is now tuition free. “The parish realizes it is our Gospel duty and our blessing to help bring up children and young families in the faith,” noted the pastor.

In 1915 pastor Father Henry C. Jordan purchased the site for the current church on Main Street and Clinton Ave, next to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. While there was some opposition in the community to building the new church there, the pastor and members of St. Peter’s who were influential in local government lent their support. The building was dedicated in 1919, complete with a stone frieze of Jesus giving St. Peter the keys to the kingdom placed over the front door closest to St. Peter’s Church as a nod of thanks.

The curved staircase leading to the choir loft in St. Patrick’s occasionally brings art and architecture enthusiasts to the parish because it was built by Rafael Guastavino, a renowned architect who used the same vaulted tile design in the construction of Grand Central Terminal (outside the Oyster Bar) and the main hall of Ellis Island, among other buildings.

Behind the main altar is a huge “Tree of Life” fresco, with symbols and key figures in Church history. Twelve sheep representing the apostles form a border pointing to Christ, while vines connect the cross, the source of spiritual life, to people going about their daily lives.