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Tuesday, 22 July 2008 19:44
Origin of the Title of Our Lady of Refuge

The Institute of Our Lady of Charity was founded (1641) by [St. Jean] Eudes, at Caen, Normandy, under the title of Our Lady of Refuge. Moved by pity for abandoned women living a life of sin, Père Eudes at first attempted to unite the penitent among them and place them under the care of good and zealous women, but he soon became convinced that the only way of dealing with them was to found a congregation of holy women, who would bind themselves by vow to work for the reformation of these unfortunate ones. Three Visitation nuns came to his aid temporarily, and, in 1644, a house was opened at Caen under the title of Our Lady of Charity. Other ladies joined them, and, in 1651, the Bishop of Bayeux gave the institute his approbation. In 1664 a Bull of approbation was obtained from Alexander VII. That same year a house was opened at Rennes, and the institute began to spread. When the French Revolution broke out there were seven communities of the order in France. From this parent-tree of Our Lady of Charity sprang the Order of the Good Shepherd . (The Catholic Encyclopedia )

A History of the Parish
of Our Lady of Refuge

-1922     Cardinal Hayes decided that the growing Catholic population in the area needed another parish and OLR parish was carved out of the southern part of St. Philip Neri Parish and the nothern part of Our Lady of Mercy, encompassing the area from East 194th Street, north to E. 198th Street, from Webster to Jerome Avenues. Cardinal Hayes purchased 8 lots on 196th Street, Briggs and Bainbridge Avenues.

-1923   In June, Father John J. Fullam, pastor of St. John's Parish in Montecello was named the fouunding pastor of Our Lady of Refuge. That same month Fr. Fullam made arrangements for the Dominican SIsters of Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, to staff the school. At that time it was the custom to establish a school before the parish church. Two private houses on lots fronting Bainbridge Avenue were used for a rectory and a convent. Joe McGovern, a 7th grader at Our Lady of Mercy arrived to serve Mass there and was told to go to the new rectory at 196th and Bainbridge to serve the first Mass celebrated  in the new parish.

Fullam immediately began the construction of a wooden fifty-by-one-hundred-foot building to house the school, church, and entertainment hall. The Parish Center now occupies this site. On August 15th, 1,500 people attended the Masses in the new building.On September 11th, the parish school opened in the same building  with the classes meeting in the 4 corners of the building. Having the church and school occupying the same space was a challenge. Funerals and weddings led to a suspension of all teaching until they concluded. Every Thursday before the First Friday school had to be dismissed at noon  to prepare for confessions and to prepare the room for Mass. Every Friday night all school materials had to be collected and stored under the stage on which the altar had to be placed.

        Even before the first Sunday Mass on August 12th, the parishioners were active forming groups...an Ushers' Society, the Ladies' Altar Society, the Holy Name Society, the Young Ladies' Sodality. Groups were organized to raise funds and additional lots for a school were purchased were purchased on Briggs Ave.where the current school and church now stand. A three day bazaar was held from October 12th - 14th. It rained the first night and only 800 people braved the storm to attend the opening night dance in the new wooden building. By the last night the numbers reached 2,200.


There were pie eating contests, games of chance, and other activities. Fr. Fullam had grown up and attended St. James Grammar School in lower Manhattan with Governor Al Smith. This might explain how the parish was able to raffle off a ball signed by the entire 1923 Yankee team and donated by Babe Ruth himself. A similar ball depicted above was auctioned for $63,000.00
in 2005 by Sotheby's.  1923 was the year the Yankees played in the Stadium for the 1st time on April 19th when the Babe hit the first home run there with two men on base against the Boston Red Sox. It was also the year they won the world Series, defeating the Giants 4-2. The Yankees won 98 games and lost 54 that year for an average of .645.  Babe Ruth batted .368 for the series and .393 for the regular season. On the Giants Casey Stengel batted .417 for the series and .337 for the regular season; Frankie Frisch batted .400 for the series and .348 for the regular season. These numbers are off the charts when compared with today's statistics.  The parish netted almost $3,000.00 from the bazaar, $39,000.00 in 2007 money. The Trustees' 1923 Report for the parish's first six months showed the following:

Church Membership    -    2,196
Baptisms                   -         16
Marriages                   -          4
Conversions                -          2

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2008 15:24
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Fr. Kane Deceased
Monsignor Jenik - Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Fr. Joe served in our parish for over 40 years celebrating the 7:00am Mass on weekdays and the 9:00am on Sundays. He was loved by all and a friend to all; he will be missed.

The wake will take place at Murray Weigel Hall (5115 East Fordham Road) on Friday, June 20th, [3;00pm-5:00pm and 7:00pm-9:00pm. His funeral Mass is Saturday, June 21st, and his burial will be at Auriesville, NY, The Jesuit Shrine of the North American Martyrs. RIP


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