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Parish Newsletter Spring 2006
Window on Saint Mary's Parish Newsletter
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1300 Northern Blvd
Manhasset NY 11030
Phone: 516-627-0385 
Fax: 516-627-6070


A Parish Born               A Parish Builds                A Parish Grows

Reverend Ambrose P. Donnigan, a Brooklyn-born priest, became pastor of St. Mary's in 1924 and served for four years (see photo right). Fr. Donnigan began St. Mary's parochial school in May, 1925, laid its cornerstone on Sept 14 of that year, and opened it for classes on February 1, 1926. The school was built to match the mission style of the church. The land he bought for the school ran from Northern Boulevard south to Second Street. This property originally had a white frame house on Northern Boulevard which was moved to Second Street to make way for the parochial school construction. This white house shown on the left served as the first home for the nuns, Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who were the first teachers in the elementary school. Many years later, after the convent was built, this house was moved again, this time to Brinkerhoff Lane, and served as the first residence for the Marist Brothers who arrived in 1950 to teach at the boys' high school.

Rev. Francis J. CoppingerAnother Brooklyn-born priest, Fr. Francis J. Coppinger, (see photo left) became the next pastor in August 1929. When he arrived at St. Mary's a house stood between the church and the elementary school. He purchased this house to serve as the convent for the nuns and, after much expansion and renovation, it continues in that role. Fr. Coppinger died on March 13, 1932, the first parish priest to die at his St. Mary's post.

Rev. James F. HigginsOur next pastor, Fr. James F. Higgins (see photo right) was also born in Brooklyn and came to St Mary's in 1932. In May 1934 he purchased the strip of land between the elementary school and Brinkerhoff Lane. It was during his term in office that St. Mary's was visited by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who shortly thereafter became Pope Pius XII.

Reverend John K. SharpOur next and longest reigning pastor, Reverend John K. Sharp, (see photo left) was yet another Brooklyn-born priest and was appointed pastor of St. Mary's by Archbishop Molloy (see photo below) on May 10, 1934 and served in that post until March 23, 1969, when he retired at age 77.

When Fr. Sharp arrived at St. Mary's, the rectory built in 1916 to house two priests and a housekeeper held a second curate housed in the attic. The church built shortly after the rectory had seating for about 360 people. The elementary school built in 1926 had 8 classrooms. Archbishop MolloyOn his arrival the parish was in debt to the tune of about $50,000. Early on, Fr. Sharp initiated a fund raising campaign which netted $91,000, making it possible to wipe out the parish debt, add six classrooms to the school and make improvements to the convent.

During the First World War Fr. Sharp conducted a "Gifts for God" campaign inviting the parishioners to donate old gold or jewelry and thereby raised enough money to erect the memorial fence fronting the elementary school playground on Northern Boulevard (see photo below) and to erect a statue of the blessed Virgin Mary in front of the church entrance (see photo below left).

Elementary School Fence

Virgin Mary StatueThe parish continued to grow. In 1948 Fr. Sharp started a fundraising campaign to build a high school. The first high school classes began in the elementary school building. A memorable feature of this fundraising campaign was a benefit concert put on in Manhasset on St. Valentine's Day by stars of the Metropolitan Opera Company.

Performances by Lucia Albanese, Lucille Browning, Giuseppe DeStefano, Robert Merril, Italo Tojo, and Dick Marzello thrilled the audience, which included such notables as the tenor Giovanni Martinelli and the baritone Giuseppe DeLuca. Fr. Sharp in expressing his appreciation said that he felt like singing "One Enchanted Evening" but that, "fortunately for the audience" he "knew very little of the tune and none of the words".

The high school was completed in 1950 with the Marist Brothers teaching the boys and the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary teaching the girls. (see photo below)
High School

In 1952 permission was granted to expand the church, to double its size, expand the convent and improve the Brothers' house. The photo below shows the rear exterior view of the expanded church.
Rear Exterior of Church
1953 saw the church expansion completed. Side altars were recessed on either side of the main altar with a carved wooden figure of the blessed Virgin spinning wool in one recess and, in the other recess, a statue of St. Joseph busy at his carpentry. Suspended from the ceiling over the main altar was a unique carved wooden scene of Calvary. The cross held two bodies of Jesus, one facing the new, and one facing the old sections of the church. At the foot of the cross were two—life size wooden statues, one of the blessed Virgin and the other of St. John. That cross hung undisturbed for fifty years but crashed to the altar below in 2001.
In June 1954 Fr. Sharp was named Right Reverend Monsignor, a title he enjoyed very much, but he was not ready to rest on his laurels. In the fall of 1955 he purchased three acres of land on the west side of Clapham Ave. on which he secretly hoped to build a second high school. In the spring of 1956 Archbishop Molloy gave permission to proceed with the construction of the second high school. Shown below is a photograph of the second high school. The original high school became the girls' high school and the new building became the boys' high school. The Marist Brothers moved from the old frame house to the top floor of the boys high school.
High School
Bishop Molloy, who was so helpful in the development of St. Mary's Parish, died on November 26, 1956, and shortly thereafter, on April 6, 1957, the old Brooklyn diocese was partitioned with the counties of Nassau and Suffolk becoming the new Diocese of Rockville Centre with Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg as its first bishop. Monsignor Sharp continued on as pastor under Bishop Kellenberg until March 26, 1969, when he retired after 30 years of service as pastor of St. Mary's.

During all this time, many priests served as assistants. Their names and periods of service are listed below:

Rev. W. Francis Miller, 1923-1925
Rev. James J. Dolan, 1949-1954
Rev. Walter A. Kiernan, 1925-1926
Rev.Joseph E. O'Brien, 1949-1950
Rev. John F. Bukey, 1926
Rev. Bernard Burnes, 1953-1959
Rev. Francis J. Burns, 1927-1928
Rev. Albert J. Hoffmann, 1954-1967
Rev. Thomas F. Code, 1928-1937
Rev. William F. Costello, 1958-1964
Rev. Vincent A. McCarthy, 1935-1939
Rev. William J. Conlon, 1959-1966
Rev. Lawrence W. Kalch 1937-1939
Rev. Harold H Paul, 1964-1965
Rev. Florence W. Crowley, 1939-1941
Rev. John P. Murphy, 1965-1968
Rev. George M. Driscoll, 1939-1940
Rev. William Marrin, 1966-1967
Rev. Joseph A. Holzheimer, 1940-1942
Rev. Raymond H. Nugent, 1967-1969
Rev. Robert S. Barnwell, 1942-1949
Rev. Edwin C. Collins, 1967-1968
Rev. Joseph F. McNicholl, 1942-1945
Rev. Robert L. Brown, 1968
Very Rev. Msgr. Francis B. Concannon, 1945-1958
Rev. Alfred J. Rogers, 1968-1973

Fr. Concanon, Fr. Dolan and Fr. HoffmanOnly a few photos are available shown here below (left to right): Fr. Francis Concannon, Fr. James Dolan and Fr. Albert Hoffman