Presented at Memorial Park
During the 100th Anniversary Celebration of East Rockaway
By Carthene McQuade
Good Afternoon friends and neighbors. St. Raymond Parish is happy to be a part of this 100th birthday party.
As you drive on Atlantic Avenue, and enter our village, you will see our magnificent church, which seats 1,100, our rectory-staffed by the priests and deacons of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, our convent-where our teaching sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary reside, and our school, with twenty-two classrooms, an auditorium, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria. These buildings are surrounded by carefully landscaped grounds, which add to the beautification of our village.
The church's bell tower enshrines a life-sized crucifix and stretches up one hundred feet, a very visible part of our village skyline. Its bell sends its worship message ranging out for all to hear.
How did it all begin?
In July 1909, the Bishop of Brooklyn appointed the first pastor of the new parish of St. Raymond of Penyafort. The parish would include the areas of Bay Park, East Rockaway, Lynbrook, and part of Malverne up to the railroad tracks. Until this time this area had been part of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre. And so it was that on July 30, 1909. The first mass for our parish was offered in the Lynbrook Lyceum, now the site of the Lynbrook Medical Center. For the next two years, while our church was being constructed, Mass and Catechism classes were held in the Earle Avenue Firehouse and in a garage on Spencer Avenue. On January 22, 1911, on the eve of its Patron Saint's feast day, the 'Little Wooden Church' was dedicated.
The population of St. Raymond parish continued to increase and with it the need for a larger house of worship. Plans were drawn up for a new church and rectory. Mass was offered for the last time in the little wooden church on July 4, 1955.
St. Raymond's was the first church to be completed for the newly formed Diocese of Rockville Centre. The dedication took place on June 30, 1957, and the church building, then consecrated for liturgical use, still serves our parish today.
St. Raymond School was opened in 1926 and at its peak had 1200 students. The school is rich in traditions, like our school band that you saw in the parade. Many of our children's parents and grandparents walked these same halls. Nearly 475 children are enrolled in our parochial school and some 1000 students from East Rockaway's Public Schools are registered in our after school Religious Education program.
The first convent was located in a house on Center Avenue (opposite Plainfield Avenue). Next, it moved to the corner of Scranton Avenue and Samuel Place. In 1937, the present convent was built. But don't stand outside - come in and meet the people of St. Raymond's.
St. Raymond's Parish is two square miles in size and composed of some 3000 families on its parish list. It is a Christ-centered community-open and sensitive to the concerns and needs of our time and reaching out in service and social ministry to the larger community at Bay Park, East Rockaway, and Lynbrook and as far away as our sister parish in Guatemala.
We are celebrating the jubilee 2000 year - the banner on the front of the church says, 'Open Wide the Doors to Christ'. Our families have become stewards, sharing their Time, Talent, and Treasure. A recent mailing to our parishioners reminded them of the ways they can serve. It listed over fifty opportunities for fostering stewardship as a way of life and welcomed their participation in these parish activities and organizations.
We are happy to join all of you as part of the spiritual life of our village.
In this Jubilee 2000 year we do open wide the doors to Christ. We also open our hearts and extend our arms in friendship, peace, and cooperation to our brothers and sisters in the East Rockaway, Bay Park, and Lynbrook communities and say Happy 100th Birthday East Rockaway!