History

The history of St. Mary Parish 


1843-1952

   

    In 1843 the Rev. William P. Hogan of Lansingburgh said the first Mass in Waterford. The Mass was said in the Town Hall. Five years later the first St. Mary’s Church was built. It still stands on its original site and is now used as a meeting hall for the parishioners.

    In 1858 the Most Reverend John McCloskey, Bishop of Albany, invited the Augustinian Order to assume charge of St. Mary’s Parish. Rev. George Meagher, O.S.A. was pointed the first Pastor. From 1862 to 1865 the first improvements to the church were made under the direction of the Rev. Michael Collins, O.S.A. In addition to erecting a bell tower, a basement and a sacristy were added. In 1894 a terrible storm caused great damage. The repairs were made by the Rev. James Curran, O.S.A.

    After 65 years the present St. Mary’s Church was erected. It was approved on March 14, 1911, and blessed by Bishop Burke on November 23, 1913. The Rev. Alfred H. Valiquette, O.S.A. was the Pastor. The new St. Mary’s was created in modern English Gothic style.  The parishioners could well be proud of this magnificent edifice that they had erected to the memory of the Blessed Mother. The “little cathedral of the North” as the St. Mary’s Church was called, is a lasting tribute to all who worked and contributed so that it might be built.

    The V. Rev. Francis A. Diehl, O.S.A. was appointed Pastor in 1951. In just a few short years, the need for a parish school was evident. After consultation with the Most Reverend  Edmund F. Gibbons, Bishop of Albany, it was decided that if the necessary funds could be raised, a new Catholic school would be constructed. In the fall of 1953, St. Mary’s School opened its doors with an enrollment of 230 students in grades K – 5.  The official dedication and blessing of St. Mary’s School tok place on November 1, 1953 by Bishop Gibbons.  The Sisters of Mercy sent five sisters to initially staff the school which graduated its first class in June of 1957.  As the enrollment grew, there was the need for an addition to the school, which was built in the early 1960′s under the guidance of Fr. Frederick I. Ryan, O.S.A.  Shortly afterwards, a new parish rectory was constructed to house the Augustinian community and renovations to the church took place.

In the 1990′s, St. Mary’s undertook a restoration project of the parish hall which had been the original church.  Beginning in 2005, a series of improvements initiated in the parish, under the direction of the pastor, Fr. David J. Kelley, O.S.A.  Next door to the hall, the parking lot was constructed.  Four years later, a new front entrance to the church was fabricated.  Beginning in 2011 and continuing until 2014, the parish undertook a Capital Campaign which enabled a complete renovation of the interior of the church and repairs to the roof.  By the summer of 2013 the work was finished and the parish was ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. Mary’s beautiful church.