The history of St. Mary Parish
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.
The following are the Pastors who have served St. Mary’s since its inception.
1843: Father William Hogan of Lansingburgh said the first Mass in Waterford.
1848: Father Anthony Farley – built the first Church (now the Church Hall)
1858: Most Reverend John McCloskey, Bishop of Albany
1860: Father Edward M. Mullen, OSA, lived in Lansingburgh
1861: Father Michael J. Collins, OSA, lived in Lansingburgh, made improvements to the original Church building
1877: Father John H. Devir, OSA
1878: Father Daniel D. Regan, OSA, moved into the first rectory in 1880
1880: Father John P. Gilmore, OSA
1890: Father John T. Emmett, OSA
1894: Father James P. Curran, OSA, died in office
1901: Father Alfred H. Valiquette, OSA, pastor when the current Church was built
1918: Father Daniel J. Sullivan, OSA
1922: Father Michael J. Flemming, OSA
1924: Father Daniel J. Leonard, OSA
1926: Father Henry T. Regan, OSA
1932: Father James H. Griffin, OSA
1938: Father Daniel A. Herron, OSA
1942: Father James R. Simpson, OSA
1950: Father Thomas Fogarty, OSA, died before he took office
1950: Father Francis A. Diehl, OSA, built the school
1959: Father Frederick I. Ryan, OSA
1965: Father John J. Coffey, OSA
1968: Father Ralph V. Shuhler, OSA
1971: Father John J. Vrana, OSA
1979: Father Francis Melcher, OSA
1983: Father Thomas J. Dillon, OSA
1983: Father Joseph Keffer, OSA
1994: Father Marshall J. Halphen, OSA
2002-present: Father David J. Kelley, OSA