26 OCTOBER 5, 2017 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: THE WAY IT WAS
A church grows in
Ridgewood and Brooklyn
BY THE OLD TIMER
Editor’s note: We resume our look at
the history of St. Brigid Church on the
Ridgewood/Bushwick border, continued
from last week’s paper.
Because St. Brigid was an important
parish, Bishop McDonnell
gave careful consideration as to
who should succeed Father Farrelly as
pastor. In late 1914, he named Father
John C. York, who at one time had been
assigned to a parish in Huntington, as
the new pastor of St. Brigid.
Father York immediately became
involved in the activities of the parish.
On Saturday, May 23, 1914, he participated
in the First Communion of over
200 children. The following July, he
presented diplomas to St. Brigid School
graduates. Then in August, the church
held an outing at Glendale Schuetzen
Park, with the proceeds used for decorating
the parish school.
Father York, as it turned out, had
many political friends, including
former President Theodore Roosevelt,
whom he invited to attend a charity
function in 1915; unfortunately, Roosevelt
Other close friends of Father York
included Al Smith and Herbert Lehman,
both of whom would become New
York governors; and James Walker and
Fiorello LaGuardia, both of whom
would become mayors.
St. Brigid School continues to help grow young minds to this day as St.
Brigid Catholic Academy. This November 2008 picture, published in the
Ridgewood Times, shows that month’s Students of the Month.
In 1921, Father York got permission
from the bishop to build a new church.
In April, the old frame church with the
high stoop that stood on Linden Street
was moved to a new location facing
Grove Street between the school building
and the new convent. Father York
arranged with Herman Weingarten,
the owner of the newly built Parthenon
Theatre on the corner of Wyckoff
Avenue and Palmetto Street, to use
the theatre for Sunday Masses. One
Sunday, April 17, 1921, three Masses
were held at the Parthenon, and over
5,000 attended them.
In May 1921, Father York announced
that a new church would be built at a
cost of $300,000 at the corner of St.
Nicholas Avenue and Linden Street,
with a frontage of 100 feet on St. Nicholas
Avenue. It would be 150 feet deep,
65 feet high and have a 90 foot high
belfry, and 85 feet wide.
The cornerstone for the new church
was laid on Oct. 2, 1921, with Bishop Thomas
Molloy presiding. Father York planned
on holding Mass in the basement, which
would have a seating capacity of 1,274
persons and also in the upper church
with a capacity of 1,400 persons. St. Brigid
Parish’s fund drive to apy for the new
church raised $200,000 by the time the
cornerstone ceremonies took place.
By April 1922, the new church was
nearing completion and Masses were
being held in the lower church. The
dedication of the new church was
scheduled for the fall.
On May 17, 1922, St. Brigid held their
annual minstrel show at Arcadia
Hall, with almost 2,000 attending to
see Father Quinn’s Claver Players. A
substantial sum was raised tohelp pay
for the new church.
Father York announced that graduation
for the parochial school would
take place on June 27, 1922; Mayor
John Hylan was invited to address the
On Oct. 22, 1922, the new church was
dedicated with thousands attending
the ceremony. Bishop Thomas Molloy
presided, and Archbishop Patrick J.
Hayes preached the sermon.
In 1940, Monsignor York invited the
Franciscan Brothers to take over the
education of the boys in the parochial
school and they accepted.
Monsignor York died in 1943; he had
been pastor for 29 years and helped
build St. Brigid materially. Bishop
Molloy selected Father Lawrence C.
Bracken as the new pastor. Under his
guidance, a new school annex was
built in 1955, followed by a second
annex the following year. These two
additions doubled the size of the
original school to 2,500 students.
Monsignor Bracken retired in 1966
and was succeeded by Father Joseph
Graham, then later by Father Joseph
By 1976, there were 4,500 parishioners
and 900 children attending the
parish school. In the fall of 1977, Father
James J. Kelly succeeded Father
McGroaty as the pastor.
In his nearly 40 years as pastor,
Father Kelly was a passionate church
and community leader; in particular,
he worked to highlight the needs of
the area’s growing immigrant population
-- a vocation he continues to this
day as pastor emeritus.
He was also a staunch advocate for
neighborhood improvement. In 1977,
he worked with Ridgewood Times
publisher Carl Clemens and editor
Maureen Walthers on “The Agony of
Bushwick,” an award-winning, seven
part article series focused on the
neighborhood’s downturn and ideas
to help it rebound, as it would in the
decades that followed.
For over 100 years, the priests of St.
Brigid Church have been dedicated to
the needs of their parishioners and
as Bishop Loughlin predicted, as
the population of the area grew, so
would the parish church and it would
Most of the article comes from the
March 3, 1988 issue of the Ridgewood
Times. If you missed the fi rst part,
don’t worry: You can catch the full
version on QNS.com this weekend.
If you have memories of Our Neighborhood
that you’d like to share with
us, email The Old Timer at editorial@
ridgewoodtimes.com (subject: Our
Neighborhood, The Way it Was), or
write to The Old Timer, ℅ Ridgewood
Times, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY
11361. If you include photos, please
mark the envelope PHOTOS: DO NOT
BEND; all mailed pictures will be carefully
returned to you.
Monsignor James Kelly (left), pastor of St. Brigid Church, is pictured with
Maureen Walthers and Carl Clemens of the Ridgewood Times in 1978
being honored for their seven-part series, “The Agony of Bushwick.”