St. Mary's was established first as a mission of St. Raymond's Church (Bronx, New York) in the early 1800’s. In 1886, the Rev. Patrick O'Sullivan established St. Mary as a parish serving Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants. In 1914, it was reported that the parishioners number 1,100. By the time Father John Sullivan became pastor in 1987, however, there were 600 congregants left. The dwindling congregation was due primarily through the exodus of congregants to the surrounding suburbs and the death of the older ones.
During this same time in the 1980’s, as the Church of St. Mary’s population was drastically decreasing, Korean migration to New York City increased, with one-tenth of these new arrivals settling in the Bronx. Many Korean Catholic immigrants living in the Bronx began their worship meetings at St. Philip Neri on the Grand Concourse with Father Simon Nam celebrating Mass under the name St. John Nam. As the church population grew, members of St. John Nam wanted to build their own church. Under the advice of Cardinal John O’Connor, then the Archbishop of New York, cohabitating with a church that was underutilized would be the best financial path for St. John Nam to follow.
The Church of St. Mary was suggested by the Archdiocese of New York. Father Nam and Father Sullivan worked out an arrangement. St. John Nam would take on the expenses of maintaining the church property and, in return, Father Sullivan would accommodate the Korean congregation by moving St. Mary’s Sunday mass to Saturday evening. Though they were very different, the two congregations shared the celebration of Mass’ for nearly 10 years.
By the early 1990’s, however, many of the Korean-Americans congregants began their exodus to the tri-state area’s suburbs. By 2004 approximately 40% of the congregation still lived in the Bronx, 40% relocated to New York’s suburbs and the remaining 20% commuted from New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut.
The Church of St. Mary would be closed; however, Father Nam would continue serving Mass under the Korean Congregation umbrella at the site.
Established in 1914 by the Ursuline Sisters, St. Mary School is located in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx (NY). The neighborhood was historically heavily populated with Jewish and Italian-Americans. It became predominantly African American in the 1970s, and since the 1980s, has received an influx of Caribbean immigrants. Currently, the neighborhood is predominately African-American, much of this population being native-born people of Caribbean descent. According to the 4New York City’s Department of City Planning, the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx has a population in excess of 65,000 with over 20% living below the poverty line.
St. Mary School, as an active ministry of the Archdiocese of New York and the Catholic Church, serves to impart and promote the Catholic faith to future generations.
Parents, as primary educators, work in positive partnership with church and school to create a faith community that inspires its members to live as Jesus lived. Teachers nurture each child's unique gifts, facilitate academic growth, faith formation of the whole person, and prepare students to become conscious of and responsive to cultural diversity in our society.
By integrating the faith, knowledge, and values they gain, St. Mary School students will think critically, discover a love of learning, live the Gospel message, reach out to others in service, further social justice, and deepen their relationship with God.