We’ve come a long way, from our first Mass in the upstairs room of what is now known as the Olde Trading Post celebrated by a visiting priest…in a village which was very much still country, to a still vibrant parish sitting almost on the New York City Line. Our parish has seen the Spanish – American War, two World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War, attacks on September 11, and yet we continue to thrive as the Body of Christ in an increasingly secular world. Of the almost 130 parishes in our diocese, we are the only one under the patronage of the Holy Spirit. That makes us special…but we already knew that anyway. When our parish was founded, we were part of the Brooklyn diocese, but in 1957, we became part of the newly founded Diocese of Rockville Centre. So, our parish is even older than our diocese.
The first church, the old white church which many remember, was built in 1894. The bell from that church is mounted just outside the front doors of this church. The old white church was built by the German, Irish, Italian and Polish communities who lived in New Hyde Park, many of whom were immigrants. Our original name, of course, was Holy Ghost Church, and it wouldn’t be renamed Holy Spirit until 1965. There have been many changes over the years, as the parish grew. In 1897, the Dominican sisters arrived. They purchased the Morgenthaler Hotel, which became their convent and orphanage named St. Dominic’s Home. This is the same building which today is our rectory and parish center. Over the years it has served as a convent, and orphanage, a boarding school for girls, a convent once more, and now our parish center and rectory. Although the interior of the building was modernized more than 20 years ago, the exterior is still the original building.
The first school was built in 1910 at a cost of $8,000. There were four classrooms. A new school was built in 1953. We still have some parishioners who were taught in the old school, which was demolished in 1959. As the school grew so did the numbers of Dominican Sisters who came to teach here. Sadly, as enrollment declined each year, the school was finally closed in 2005.
In 1969, the white church was moved about 100 feet to the west to make room for a school auditorium, which soon after became the church we know today. The old white church was demolished in 1971 and a new rectory was built on the site. That building became the Dominican Convent in 2001 when the rectory and parish center moved into the renovated convent building. Some people still get confused…the rectory became the convent and the convent became the rectory. During that period, 2000-2001, the church interior was also renovated.
While none of us have been around for 125+ years, we have all seen many changes, both at Holy Spirit and in New Hyde Park. We have had twelve pastors in those years, and the first was Fr. Herbert Farrell. While we all have memories of the priests and pastors who have come and gone over the years, each of whom brought different talents to our parish, there are two constants. First, God is with us each and every moment, and Jesus is made present to us in the Eucharist every day at Mass at all times in the tabernacle. His Holy Spirit continues to guard and guide us through many difficulties that life presents. And the other constant is the faith of the wonderful people who make up the parish family here at Holy Spirit. Some families have been here for generations, some are relatively new, but the beautiful expressions of faith and love for our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church will ensure that our beloved Holy Spirit parish will continue to flourish for many generations to come.