Parish: Parish of St. Raphael
Address: 600 Newbridge Road, East Meadow, N.Y. 11554
Sunday Mass schedule: Sat.: 5 p.m. Sun.: 8 & 10 a.m.; noon and
Daily Mass schedule: Mon. - Fri.: 7:30 and 9 a.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.
Registered families: 5,700
Pastor: Father Thomas J. Haggerty
In the Old Testament, the Archangel Raphael appeared as an ordinary man and presented himself as a helpful companion when Tobiah needed to make a tough journey. At the East Meadow church that bears his name, parishioners strive to follow Raphael’s example and help each other on the journey of life.
“This parish is about lots of ordinary people doing many extraordinary things because they do it together,” according to pastor Father Thomas Haggerty. Members of the parish look on themselves as “ambassadors of hope” who can bring companionship and healing to those they meet on their lives’ journey.
“We try to put ourselves in the biblical stories,” said Father Haggerty. “Simple things can make the Gospel come alive.” Each Ash Wednesday, the parish distributes rubber “Ambassador of Hope” bracelets, and Father Haggerty said he sees people wearing them all year long.
“We have a lot of people involved in different ministries,” he said, explaining that parishioners are asked to take on “bite-size pieces,” volunteering for one event, or once a month, rather than trying to do it all.
The parish social ministry reaches out in traditional ways such as a food pantry and bereavement ministries. It also provides the Hopemobile, a van purchased by the parish several years ago which brings senior citizens to Mass and on shopping trips. An active transportation ministry also includes individuals who drive parishioners to and from doctors’ appointments or medical treatments such as dialysis.
The parish is part of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Regional School, Bellmore. There are 1,500 students in the religious education program and Father Haggerty points out that the fact they have enough catechists attests to the level of parishioners’ commitment.
Young people are also served by an active CYO program and a high school youth ministry. “Kids and Us” is a group for young children and their caregivers. For adults there are ministries and activities including book clubs, Bible study and social and service organizations.
St. Raphael’s was founded in 1941 when much of East Meadow was covered with potato farms. The first pastor, Father Charles Sullivan, purchased the Williston Park Reformed Church and moved it to East Meadow to serve 170 families in the area. Following World War II there was a huge growth of population in Nassau County and St. Raphael’s began a campaign to build a larger church which was dedicated in 1952. By 1999, that building needed extensive repairs including new heating, sound, and sprinkler systems, and changes to make it accessible to people using wheelchairs. A study determined it would be more cost effective to build a new church than to renovate.
The current church, behind the former school and other parish buildings that front Newbridge Road, was dedicated on June 26, 2004. Its modern architecture draws on the theme of St. Peter’s call (1 Peter 2:4-5) for Christians to be “living stones” that build up the Church. There is stone work on the façade, a stone wall behind the main altar and a series of stone pathways leading into and around the church.
A shrine in honor of St. Raphael greets visitors in the narthex with the parish motto of “hope” in large letters in front of the statue and the parish prayer painted on the wall, which reads “Messenger, Healer, Companion, Pray with us as we spread the good news, as we heal our broken world, as we walk with one another on our journey. May our prayers rise like incense.”
The colorful stained-glass windows around the church incorporate the story of St. Raphael and how it relates to the parish mission statement. A number of biblical quotes are illustrated with vibrant imagery, both symbolic and literal.