The History of the Church of St. Charles

Once Upon a Time…

St. Charles Chapel, 520 Mill Road

       St. Charles Parish actually derived from St. Patrick’s Parish in Richmondtown. St. Charles was founded by Rev. Charles. J. Parks, pastor of St. Patrick’s, in 1922. The St. Charles Mission Chapel was located at 520 Mill Road, Oakwood Beach. St. Charles, along with Our Lady of Lourdes in New Dorp Beach and St. Clare’s in Great Kills served as missions of St. Patrick’s parish.

As a result of the increasing population in the Oakwood Heights area, in 1958 Msgr. Patrick A. Gallagher, the pastor of St. Patrick’s, initiated the building program for St. Charles Chapel-Auditorium and received the authorization needed to form St. Charles into a separate parish. The building was completed in July 1960. St. Charles was canonically proclaimed an independent parish on May 21, 1960, the first new parish established by Francis Cardinal Spellman on Staten Island.  Rev. John J. Manning was appointed the first pastor of St. Charles and the first Mass was held on July 10, 1960. The first assistant pastor was none other than our fifth pastor, Fr. Thomas J. Bergin. He took up his duties on June 10, 1961. The next pastor of St. Charles Parish was Msgr. John A. McGowan and he began his responsibilities on September 23, 1961.

As a result of the increasing number of parishioners along with the growing number of children, the idea of constructing a parish school and convent was proposed. The Diocesan Consulters didn’t have to think twice on this matter and immediately began planning for the 16 classroom school building. Starting on September 9, 1963, students in grades 1 – 4 attended classes at Msgr. Farrell High School while the St. Charles Sisters stayed at the former Our Lady Queen of Peace convent due to the construction of their own facilities. On July 1, 1964, the convent was opened and on September 1, 1964, 336 children were enrolled in five grades in their very own St. Charles School.

The years to follow proved to be a success. This decade was an important one, and it was during this time (1966) Msgr. Robert J. Kelly was named pastor. In 1980, a member of our parish, Vincent Brigande became the first permanent deacon of St. Charles. At the age of 75, Msgr. Kelly retired and Msgr. Thomas J. Gaffney was named the fourth pastor. Under the leadership of Msgr. Gaffney, new organizations were formed and new clergy and religious were welcomed into the parish.

Parishioners were ecstatic about their new community and very enthusiastic. They entered wholeheartedly and devotedly into the new liturgy. Over fifty years later, we can proudly say although things may have changed for the better, one thing is for certain, the parishioners’ attitudes have remained the same. To this day, societies of the parish and activities they sponsor are instilled with the thought of bringing members closer to God, as well as each other.

Then & Now

St. Charles’ First Mass, March 1, 1973

June 2011

March 1973 June 2011

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