Oceanside, New York
St. Anthony’s Church in Oceanside, N.Y., has grown from 14 faithful people, who attended the first Mass in a firehouse in 1927, to a community of more than 4,800 registered families. St. Anthony’s has really been three different parishes — first a shrine parish, then a diocesan parish and finally a Jesuit-directed parish, each one building on the strengths of the past.
The church opened in 1929, and it was so unusual and beautiful, with flowers and singing canaries, that it immediately attracted many visitors. Father Robert Barrett, the first priest of St. Anthony’s, used his personal fortune to build and enhance his beloved church and grounds
By the 1960s, more families were moving into the area from Brooklyn and Queens, and the era of the shrine came to a close. A new pastor was assigned and the change from a shrine to an active family parish was complete. A beautiful school building and convent were constructed in 1961, but just over a decade later the diocese closed the school.
The Jesuit Fathers arrived in 1978, and the parish entered a new era. The once empty school building became a vibrant parish center with offices, a pre-school, New Horizons (an alternate high school program administered by the Oceanside Schools), a senior center (administered by Catholic Charities) and a revitalized religious education program for children. These spiritual and educational parish activities at St. Anthony’s continue today, where people come for the beauty of the spirituality, the liturgy and the community. (Images via http://nccath.blogspot.com/)