The Neck’s St. Frances de Chantel celebrates 90th

“I think the parish is working together to make the celebrations meaningful…we have an active parish council that wants to make sure that St. Frances celebrates its past but also plans for the future,” – Msgr. John Graham, pastor of St. Frances de Chantal on the parish’s 90th anniversary.

A Bronx house of worship is celebrating an important milestone.

Throggs Neck’s St. Frances de Chantal Church is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

Msgr. John Graham, the church’s pastor and East Bronx Vicar, said that the anniversary would be a time of outreach, with parish revival missions being planned for next year in different sections of the parish: Silver Beach, Edgewater Park, Locust Point and Throggs Neck housing complexes.

Events are taking place every month during the remainder of 2017. A commemoration of the parish’s first Mass took place in May, said the pastor.

“The parish I would say is excited about celebrating its 90th anniversary,” said the monsignor. “I think the parish is working together to make the celebrations meaningful, happy and open to all ages.”

He added: “We have an active parish council that wants to make sure that St. Frances celebrates its past but also plans for its future.”

The parish school will see changes this year as a new leader takes over as principal for 2017-18.

Sister Patricia Brito, who has teaching and administrative experience from schools including Holy Family in New Rochelle and St. Raymond’s in Parkchester, will be filling that position, said Msgr. Graham.

The parish plans on increasing programming and resources at the school for both children with special educational needs or who learn differently and for higher achieving students who may be able to take Regents while in junior high school and complete courses in advanced math, said the pastor.

St. Frances de Chantal Church celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2017.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

“We would like to develop a robotics program, a marching band and we plan on air conditioning the school,” Graham said, adding that continual improvement of all of the church’s facilities is also a top priority.

Events taking place this year commemorating the anniversary have already included two paint nights in January and August, a St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Dinner Dance, an Easter egg hunt and drawing contest for children, a rededication in May, a Corpous Christi procession, and a parish carnival in July.

On Sunday, September 10 there will be a special Mass commemorating the events of September 11th 2001 at 11:30 a.m. combined with a day of remembrance in the church parking lot between 10 p.m. and 2 p.m.

This event will include a rock climbing wall, antique police cars and fire trucks and a tribute to all first responders and emergency personnel, said Msgr. Graham.

Events to follow are Zumba in September, a dinner dance at Marina del Rey in October and an organ concert, said the pastor.

There will also be a salute to veterans in November and a celebration of Our Lady of Guadelupe in December, he said.

“The bottom line is: come to church, Jesus is here,” said Graham, who added since taking over the parish a year ago at a time when the situation may not have been as positive, he’s humbled and grateful from the response from the parishioners and priests.

Marge Wielher, a St. Frances parishioner for nearly 50 years, said that she hopes the parish continues its outreach.

“We are alive and well,” she said of the parish.

A stained glass depiction of ‘creation’ in St. Frances from a 1971 church program. Albins Elksus of New York designed the windows in the church.
Photo courtesy of Jack McCarrick

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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