History of Resurrection-Ascension Church
In 1926, Rev. Francis Scullin was appointed to found a parish in what was, then, the outlying section of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Elmhurst. A temporary church was constructed by the parishioners on 55th Avenue in Elmhurst. It was called the Church of the Ascension of Elmhurst. The probable date of the first Mass was February 28,1926. For the convenience of many parishioners, arrangements were made to schedule the Sunday Mass celebration in the Rego Park Community Club House, on 62nd Avenue.
In 1931, Rev. Henry Hald became the second assigned pastor. Father Hald finally succeeded in obtaining a very suitable piece of property, located on Woodhaven Boulevard,61st Road, 85th Street, and Eliot Avenue. Fr. Hald was transferred but, Rev. Patrick F. Feely was assigned to lead our flock. In short order, he had the cornerstone laid, July 1938, for AscensionSchool and a temporary church.
Fr. Feely had also planned a Gothic church with its entrance at 61st Road and 85th Street and it sanctuary at 85thStreet and Eliot Avenue. But the advent of World War II put a stop to all building projects calling for steel beams.
Fr. Feely had requested the Sisters of Charity of Halifax to staff the school. So, Sister Miriam Constance, SCH. was assigned to be the first principal. On September 11, 1939AscensionSchool was open to all the children of the neighborhood.
Our parish was blessed to have the Trinitarian Sisters as part of our parish staff. They worked with our children, visited the sick and homebound, and started our first parish census.
In 1941, Fr. Feely purchased four houses located on Eliot Ave. and 86th Street (the present “Weber Yard” area) and converted these houses into a convent for the Sisters of Charity. Fr. Feely, at the age of 52, died on December 6, 1943.
Bishop Molloy assigned David J. Lynch as the new pastor of our parish. In 1945, Bishop Molloy assigned Thomas J. Dunnigan, to be the pastor of our original church “Ascension at Elmhurst”. This decision created a major pastoral problem since there now existed “AscensionChurch in Elmhurst”, and “AscensionChurch in RegoPark”.
In a letter, on October 27, 1949, the Bishop’s secretary, William F. Daley, clearly stated that Ascension, MiddleVillage(RegoPark) was legally — and canonically -organized as a church in 1926 at Elmhurst, Queens. In 1949, therefore it was celebrating it 23rd year of existence.
In 1951, Fr. Lynch requested that “Ascension,RegoParkbe given a NEW name. Bishop Molloy decided upon the name “Resurrection-Ascension”, Rego Park. Consequently, it is — and continues to be — the parish started in 1926
When the World War II building restrictions were lifted in the 1950’s, Fr. Lynch decided to forego the building of the Gothic church envisioned by Fr. Feely. Instead, Fr. Lynch turned to building permanent residences. In 1952, the cornerstone was laid for the present rectory and in 1956, the convents for the Sisters of Charity and the Trinitarian Sisters.
Fr. Lynch invited the Marist Brothers to reside at RA with the purpose of establishing a “Boys’ Department” within our school.
In the 1960’s, our parish was dissected to give birth to a new parish – Our Lady of Hope.
On New Year’s Day, 1962 on New Year’s Day, Fr. Lynch died. His successor was Adam Weber. Fr. Weber resigned in 1967 and Charles Clark was appointed as the new pastor of R.A.
In 1970, Fr. Clark assessed that the declining number of Marist Brothers could not adequately staff the Boys’ Department. As a result, the Sisters of Charity stepped forward to “staff” the entire school — which was then converted to a co-ed operation.
A year later, Fr. Clark died. In 1971, Fr. Vincent Dooley was appointed the “new” pastor of R.A.
In October of 1982, Msgr. Dooley died of a heart attack while sitting in his own living room.
Shortly before the end of 1982, Bishop Mugaveroappointed Msgr. Joseph P. Bynon to succeed the deceased, Msgr. Dooley.
The parish opened a “Winter Shelter for Homeless Men” in 1985 located within the rectory. This shelter — coordinated by Deacon Frank Ott, and his wife, Eileen – and capably staffed by volunteers remained in operation for eleven winters.
In the Fall of 1987, our Marian Shrine in the middle yard, was officially blessed.
In June, 1989, the Sisters of Charity [Halifax] announced that they were unable to supply administrative, and teaching personnel, for our school. The Sisters of St. Joseph (Brentwood) consented to staff our school by designating Sister Margaret Sweeney, CSJ to be the new principal in September, 1989.
During that same year (1989), the parish ran a very successful campaign to raise money for the renovation of our church. The project was completed on Christmas Eve, 1989.
Then, the supreme test for the parish took place on Columbus Day, 1993. A fire was discovered roaring through the church and school at 2:30am. The magnificent work of the firemen prevented severe damage to the church. The school was not as fortunate. One stairwell was destroyed, plus many windows and lights were damaged. There was extensive smoke damage throughout the building. Through the effort of an around-the-clock cleaning effort, the school was re-opened in 5 days time.
In due time, both the school and the church were repaired, cleaned and repainted to remove all signs of the fire damage.
On March 14, 1994, the parish faced the sudden, and shocking, death of Deacon Frank Ott. Many parishioners can attest that Frank was a remarkably “good man — a man committed to his parish.
In 1996, the parish introduced its first Ministry Fair which enabled inquirers to speak with other parishioners, already participating in a specific parish ministry, or activity.
The parish also introduced its first Appreciation Party – an opportunity to thank anyone who gave their “Time and Talent”to any church ministry. This appreciation Party has become an annual event.
Also in 1996, this parish commenced its participation in the diocesan “Alive in Hope Campaign”. Consequently, through our sharing with the diocese [in the monies raised] the parish benefited [extensively] by having additional funds which afforded us the opportunity to “put on a new face”: new sidewalks In front of all the parish buildings, pointing, and new windows at both convents — as well as the rectory — and a complete sprinkler system throughout the parish grounds.
To date, it has become more apparent that quietly, and over time, this parish has been undergoing another significant change – welcoming new people into our church and school. While these newcomers have brought their cultures, — and their languages — into our community, the parish has been finding the heart to accept — and to love — these new residents — who demonstrate a sincere love for the church and, an extremely high regard for Catholic education.