Compiled from different sources by: Anthony & Ida Montuori
The parish of Holy Name of Jesus was created on June 27, 1962. We were one of the five new parishes established to mark the fifth anniversary of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg, the first Bishop of Rockville Centre named Rev. Charles A. Schlick as the Founding Pastor. Rev. James J. Hannon was named as his assistant.
Three years later, Fr. Hannon was succeeded by Rev. William J. Gill. The first thing Fr. Schlick and Fr. Hannon had to do was to find a place for Mass. Through the generosity of the manager of the now-defunct Syosset Theater, the first Mass was offered on July 6, 1962. Mass was offered there every weekend for three years.
Fr. Schlick and Fr. Hannon alternated Saturday nights after the last movie to set up the theater for Mass with help from the sympathetic theater employees.
There were other generous donors like Frank and Camille’s in Huntington who loaned an organ each week. Beney Funeral Home furnished palms to decorate the stage around the altar.
One parishioner, so the story goes, attended Mass and then stayed for the Sunday movie matinee. Going to the movies at the Syosset Theater, parishioners found themselves entering and making the Sign of the Cross … or wondering if they should.
The priests stayed at their respective rectories until the house on Gloria Drive was purchased and remodeled as a rectory. A chapel was built in the den and the garage was converted to office space. On December 8, 1962, the priests moved in and started daily Mass, Baptisms and Confessions.
Through education, the Church seeks to prepare its members to proclaim the good news and to translate this proclamation into action. For the past forty years, Holy Name of Jesus has endeavored to emphasize Christ’s teachings through our religious education program and the dedication of the priests, sisters, parents and our ever generous teachers.
Early in the life of the parish, Fr. Schlick asked the Sisters of Mercy for assistance in readying the classes for First Communion and Confirmation. One of the Sisters who came over to help was Sr. M. Labouré and she stayed with the parish until she retired in 1999. She was made Director of Religious Education by Msgr. Anthony J. Savastano. Another Sister of Mercy, Sister Eleanor Peters, has devotedly worked at United Presbyterian Residence (the name has recently been changed to Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation) as Pastoral Minister for many years and continues to do so. She has continued working long after most people have retired. Also, she can often be seen at hospitals visiting hospitalized UPR residents.
Thanks to the dedication and sacrifices of so many good people over the course of these forty-plus years, we have remained a vibrant and flourishing Christian community in which our Religious Education program is alive, strong and growing!
Holy Name of Jesus serves Plainview, Bethpage, Syosset, Woodbury and Huntington. In addition to these five towns, Holy Name of Jesus also ministers to three Nursing Homes and which have Rehabilitation Centers. Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, formerly known as United Presbyterian Residence, consists of several large buildings with a recently expanded Rehabilitation Center. White Oaks Nursing Home and the Woodbury Center for Health Care are also in Holy Name of Jesus Parish.
In all, we have about 750 additional parishioners that we minister to and are responsible for at these facilities. The residents’ religious needs are met by our Pastor who is assisted by a group of about 100 very dedicated volunteers. Various visiting and retired Priests have assisted the Pastors of Holy Name of Jesus over the years in administering the sacraments to the residents.
The late Rev. Thomas J. Reynolds succeeded Fr. Gill in 1970 as Associate Pastor and he served at Holy Name until 1976 when Rev. William G. Dailey came to the parish. He was very familiar with our area, having served at St. Dominic’s in Oyster Bay, Our Lady of Mercy in Hicksville and Maria Regina in Seaford. In 1978, Fr. Dailey went to the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island and then returned to several other assignments on Long Island. He is now retired and resides on Long Island.
Rev. John Pazo followed Fr. Dailey in 1979 and was with us until 1982. Fr. Pazo died in February 2005.
Another Associate Pastor, the late Rev. Thaddeus J. Semla, joined our parish in 1982 and stayed until 1984. Fr. Semla was born and educated in Poland and was ordained in Kracow by then-Cardinal Carol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) in 1963. Fr. Semla died in 1992.
At this point in time, Fr. Schlick had been ailing and was relieved of some of his pastoral burden by Bishop McGann who appointed Rev. Martin W. Curley as Administrator of Holy Name in 1984. The following year Fr. Curley moved on to another assignment in the diocese. Fr. Schlick retired on June 12, 1985 and became Pastor Emeritus. He continued to reside in the rectory on Gloria Drive until his death on March 11, 1988.
Rev. Msgr. Anthony J. Savastano was appointed pastor of Holy Name of Jesus on June 12, 1985. At the same time, Rev. R. Michael Reid was named Associate Pastor. Shortly after Msgr. Savastano arrived, he offered the parishioners his vision recognizing that the parish would celebrate its Silver Jubilee in 1987. At that time, he wrote, “We must not stand still but go forward to do those things necessary to allow us to care for the spiritual and material needs of all our parishioners. Time makes change necessary in the life of a parish. What we have now would not be a reality without God’s grace, the foresight of Fr. Schlick and Bishop Kellenberg, the generosity of John Froehlich and the cooperative spirit of the people who helped get us to this point.”
Msgr. Savastano recognized the need and was urged by Bishop McGann to locate the rectory on church grounds. Before coming to the conclusion to locate the Rectory/Administration Center where it now stands, a series of alternatives were screened, evaluated, discussed and some were taken to the Bishop for consideration. The most practical consideration at the time was to build behind the church and keep the front acreage available for the annual festivals, which became a major source of fundraising for the parish.
After a number of individual proposals, which were carefully evaluated, Msgr. Savastano decided that we should sell the land to a developer who would build senior housing. This would allow one hundred fourteen individuals or couples to downsize and stay on Long Island with tax benefits provided by the Town of Oyster Bay. With this accomplished, the parish realized funds to invest so that the interest would help to offset the loss of the annual income from the festivals. A portion of this money is earmarked for renovation and necessary improvements to the church building. This will provide a more modern environment for our religious education classrooms, a much-needed elevator and other improvements to the sacred space.
Following the proscribed course necessary for any building project in the diocese, plans were made for the rectory complex and a major fundraising effort was launched. This was a first for our parish and the people responded with great generosity. The new building was dedicated on April 10, 1994. It provided adequate living quarters for the priests, office space for the staff and a large conference room for the many meetings held almost daily.
Fr. Reid moved on to a new assignment as Chaplain of the A. Holly Patterson Home early in 1989. He was succeeded by Fr. Louis Angeles and then by Fr. Bonaventure Thekkeveetil.
In June 1993, Rev. Lawrence Rafferty, our current Pastor, joined Msgr. Savastano as Associate Pastor. When Msgr. Savastano became ill, Fr. Rafferty was named Temporary Administrator. He remained in this position until he transferred to the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida. Upon Msgr. Savastano’s return to Holy Name, he decided to ask Bishop McGann if he would appoint an administrator to assist in running the parish. Rev. Msgr. Donald McE. Beckmann was appointed Administrator in 1997.
Msgr. Savastano became Pastor Emeritus on June 30, 1999, having made many significant changes in the parish in addition to overseeing the building of the rectory complex as well as starting the process of evaluating how and to whom to sell the six acres in front of the church. The parish needed cash flow and the parking lot was in need of extensive repairs. Msgr. Beckmann became Pastor on June 30, 1999. The Beckmann years saw the development of many new and exciting programs designed to attain greater involvement by the parishioners.
Msgr. Beckmann was very actively involved in Interfaith activities so he divided his time between the parish and his office and duties in Rockville Centre. Because of his dual role, Msgr. Beckmann hired a Pastoral Minister to assist him. Diane Vella served in that capacity from 1998 to 2002 coordinating the religious education program in our parish and started new adult education programs.
Shortly after the arrival of the Most Reverend William F. Murphy, he quickly determined that he needed Msgr. Beckmann’s skills in the Interfaith area and appointed him to his cabinet as Secretary for Pastoral Ministry. Fr. Donald as he likes to be called, left Holy Name on February 1, 2002 and was succeeded by the Rev. Lawrence B. Rafferty as the fourth pastor of Holy Name of Jesus parish.
One of Fr. Rafferty’s first priorities was to study and introduce various liturgical changes that were mandated by Rome. Guidelines for all liturgical ministers had to be revised and the parish, in general, was presented with the new procedures that went into effect in December 2002. At the same time, it was necessary to continue the planning of the parish’s 40th Anniversary. This culminated in the celebration of a special Mass of Thanksgiving on January 4, 2003 followed by a Dinner-Dance in the Hall. The planning of the 40thAnniversary was done with the assistance and collaboration of a dedicated and capable Committee of parishioners.
Another major project that Father Rafferty coordinated was the installation of new state-of-the-art folding partitions in the Church Hall. This was done during the summer of 2004. These were necessary in order to provide a better environment for our Religious Education students and teachers. The improvement in the Hall’s overall appearance was appreciated by everyone in the parish and the Hall has continued to be a focal point for many enjoyable social gatherings that have benefited the parish in many ways.
The many new challenges that have come to the Church in general and to us here in our parish in this Third Millennium are being met by deep Catholic Faith that assures us that we are not alone; we work dedicated to and in the power of the Holy Name of Jesus. We face the greatest challenge which is the ongoing normal pastoral activity which requires the sacrificing collaboration of dedicated people.
This brief overview has not focused on those hundreds of people who devoted thousands of hours as volunteers in many different programs, all designed to make the parish grow and prosper as a community of faith.
We are very blessed to have the many dedicated volunteers who serve Holy Name of Jesus with their Time and Talent as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Readers, Home Visitors, Altar Servers, Ushers, Religious Education Teachers and Assistants, Nursing Home Volunteers, Office Volunteers, Altar Care, Choir Members – all working together to enhance the parish. We owe the priests, religious, dedicated volunteers and members of the parish family our gratitude for their past and continuing service.
We pray, as we now go forward in hope, that Holy Name of Jesus will continue to be blessed with dedicated clergy, abundant volunteers, staff workers and parishioners who will continue the tradition of these past forty-two years.
Compiled from different sources by: Anthony & Ida Montuori