28 West Sidney Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10550

Tel: 1.914.668.5861
Fax: 1.914.668.0161
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In the beginning, the twenty families who formed the nucleus of the Christian community had to struggle to create the parish and maintain its humble frame church. In the early part of the Nineteenth Century, the area now known as Mount Vernon was composed of three villages made up chiefly of small farms. Shortly after the Civil War two of these villages were consolidated under the name of Central Mount Vernon and the inhabitants were mostly of German and Polish heritage Strong in the Catholic faith, these pioneers formed the Catholic parish of Saint Jacob in 1871.
They constructed a temporary wooden structure on what is now West Lincoln Avenue and North Tenth Avenue. The temporary church was abandoned later in 1871 for a new wooden church built on Bridge Street, Central Mount Vernon. Bridge Street later became known as West Sidney Avenue and the church was located between what is now North Fifth and North Sixth Avenues. Although the people now had a substantial church, they did not have a resident pastor. For two years the small Catholic community was served by priests from Melrose Village now the Borough of the Bronx. The early parishioners were indeed grateful to Reverend Bruhy of Blanville who directed the plan for the original Saint Jacob and Reverend Carrel who dedicated it. A new joy surged through the community when Reverend Joseph Albinger was appointed the first resident pastor in 1873. Father Albinger was an able linguist who could serve his people well. Providentially, he was given twenty-three years to establish the Catholic community on the firm foundation of his devoted service. Under his direction the congregation increased so rapidly that it became necessary to plan a new and much larger church. A number of years would intervene, however, before the plan could be brought to completion. During that time the Village of Mount Vernon and continued to flourish under that name. The years of work and savings and growth reached the climax on August 20, 1894, when Father Albinger received word that the Reverend Albert Schweninger of the Church of the Assumption, at Forty-Ninth Street, New York City, then an internationally-known priest, would officiate at the laying of the cornerstone on the following Sunday afternoon.

The congregation was informed of this at the Sunday services, which, at the time, consisted of Holy Masses at 7, 8:30 and 11 a.m., Sunday School at 2:00 p.m. and Vespers at 3:30 p.m. At about 4 o’clock in the afternoon of that Sunday, the members of the congregation and their friends from throughout the village assembled at the site to witness the ceremonies and to participate in the exercises. Vespers were read and Father Schweninger laid the cornerstone, making an eloquent address in German. Reverend Edward J. Flynn, of the Mount Vernon Church of the Sacred Heart, delivered an impressive and stirring address in English. Fathers Albinger and Deidtus assisted. The newly dedicated church was ready for occupancy in the winter of 1894. The new church was indeed a triumph over the years of struggle to establish the parish and in a perhaps more symbolic sense, Father Albinger placed the church under the title and patronage of Our Lady of Victory. The church was completed and the pastor and parishioners were able to celebrate the Christmas of 1894 intheir new church. Anton Kloster of New York City was the architect Jacob Haag carried out the masonry and Chris Kolpin the carpentry. The old Saint Jacob Church building then became the Parish Hall. In October 1910, the Trustees of Saint Jacob Church with the consent and sanction of the Archbishop of New York applied to the Supreme Court of the State of New York to change its corporate name to Church of Our Lady of Victory. At a hearing on November 12, 1910 at a Special Term of the State Supreme Court held in New Rochelle, Justice Martin J. Keogh ordered that the application be granted and that the name of Saint Jacob Church be changed to the Church of Our Lady of Victory with authorization to assume that name on December 14, 1910. To the present the Parish has carried the name, Our Lady of Victory. During the first years of Father Albinger’s pastorate, he knew that the parish could not afford to build and maintain a parochial school, yet the Christian education of the children was essential. The solution to the problem of education came through the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Newburgh who established a convent in the Village of Mount Vernon. Under the direction of Mother Hyacinth, O.P., the Sisters obtained property to the rear of the old Saint Jacob’s Church on West Sidney Avenue. Besides the convent and school, they operated a small farm with a cow and some chickens. The convent was the old Arcuri building which was demolished to make room for the present auditorium. On September 4, 1877, the Sisters opened their school which was operated as a private school for twenty years. In 1897, a long-awaited dream of the founding pastor, Father Albinger, was realized. That autumn, Our Lady of Victory Parish took over the school and for the first time it became a parochial school. The work of establishing the school, however, fell to the efforts of Reverend Michael J. Reinhardt because on April 21, 1898, the parishioners and pupils of the newly inaugurated school mourned the death of the founding pastor, Father Albinger. Father Reinhardt succeeded to the pastorate of Our Lady of Victory and continued the transformation of the parish facilities. Old Saint Jacob’s Rectory became the school and the old frame church the Parish Hall. Father Reinhardt maintained the school under trying circumstances. His efforts were cut short by his untimely death less than two years later on September 5, 1899. Reverend George Bauer succeeded Father Reinhardt as pastor and the parish and school continued to grow in numbers and flourish in their spiritual and educational activities. Three Dominican Sisters were teaching the primary and intermediate classes until 1906 when a full eight-grade-grammar-school course was established. Soon the old rectory which was serving as a school was quite inadequate. It could accommodate only one hundred pupils at best and that meant many who requested admission had to be turned away. The old building had outgrown its usefulness and plans had to be made for a larger school. On March 23, 1910, the work of excavation for the new building began. This brick building was located on the corner of West Sidney and North Fifth Avenues. The cornerstone of this new Our Lady of Victory School building was laid on Trinity Sunday, May 22, 1910, by His Grace, the Most Reverend Archbishop John Farley, who later became John Cardinal Farley of New York. The sermon was preached by the Very reverend John P. Chidwick, Rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, Yonkers, New York. Prior to the ceremonies there was a grand street parade in which the children, the various societies, the Knights of Columbus and other organizations took part.  The cost of this newly completed brick building and the furnishings thereof approximated thirty-five thousand dollars. This brick building in 1910 was classified as modern in its equipment and construction, having large, light and airy classrooms, an auditorium, a gymnasium and bowling alley. The wooden school building was then moved to another site and was finally demolished in November, 1962. Father Bauer had not only solved the existing educational problem, but had anticipated future needs for another fifty years. The following year, however, a wreath of mourning was laid over his remains and the work was passed to another priest, Reverend Edward Heinlein. Father Heinlein was well chosen for the task given to him. The school debt and the need for other parish improvements called for an able administrator and capable financier. In addition to building the sacristy at the rear of the church, he made a number of property improvements and still, in his six years as pastor, managed a considerable reduction of the parish debt. The one shadow which falls across the years of his pastorate was that of World War I. In 1918 his pastoral care of Our Lady of Victory was terminated with his transfer to another parish in the diocese. Then Reverend Patrick A. O’ Marra assumed the pastorate of Our Lady of Victory Parish. On August 14, 1918, he began to write, in works and deeds, twenty-seven fruitful years in the history of the parish. His was truly a remarkable pastorate. Relatively free of debt at the beginning, the parish was free to deepen its social bonds and to exercise its spiritual and educational programs in the atmosphere of relative prosperity as compared to the earlier years of financial struggle. The measure of a parish’s success is never simply numbers, but it is interesting to compare the fact that when Father O’ Marra first came to Our Lady of Victory there were two Masses with a total attendance of approximately two thousand faithful. The spiritual activities during his pastorate included perpetual Novena services of the Miraculous Medal each Monday afternoon and evening, which attracted large numbers; Saint Jude Novena, each Thursday afternoon and evening; and the Sacred Heart Devotions each Friday evening. As might easily be surmised, the spiritual and social activities of the various parish societies also kept the parish vigorous and healthy. The Rosary and Altar Society, Children of Mary Sodality and Victory Alumnae, for graduates of the school – all filled the weekly and monthly calendar with exciting social and soul-satisfying spiritual programs. One of the really great achievements of Father O’ Marra was inaugurated one year after he became pastor. In September, 1919, Father O’ Marra established and opened the Our Lady of Victory Business School. The classes, at first, were conducted in the same brick building occupied by the parochial school. The Business School opened with eleven pupils but each succeeding year brought an increased enrollment. In 1923 it became necessary to provide larger quarters for the Business School. The parish acquired a building at 52 West Sidney Avenue, on the corner of North Seventh and West Sidney Avenues. In September, 1923, the Victory Business School opened in its new and separate building. In 1939, the Business School introduced a new Business Machine Department, specializing in Comptometer. And the name of the school was changed to Victory Comptometer and Business School. This school had the finest equipment and machines available. So successful was this school and so great was the demand for competent comptometer operators, that it became necessary to open an evening school. Special accelerated courses were offered in Comptometry, Secretarial Studies and Typewriting. It enjoyed a very high reputation and in 1944 it had the unique status of being the only recognized Comptometer School in Westchester County. Two long shadows cut across the years of Father O’ Marra’s pastorate- the Depression and World War II. As dark as were those shadows, they could not dim the faith, hopes, and dedication of this pastor. In fact, these dark shadows only served to heighten the radiance of his zeal and the warmth of his compassion. Many parishioners, today, who remember the years of the Depression or who served in or had children who served in World War II will recall the beloved gentleman who kept their hopes alive and lifted their spirits when desperation and even death visited their homes. In 1944, the parish celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. This celebration was, without doubt the high point in the pastoral career of Father O’ Marra. A Golden Anniversary Memorial Volume was published for the occasion and in it the fruits of his years of labor could be seen and read. Notable in its pages is the Honor Roll of the men and women who served their country from Our Lady of Victory Parish. In 1944 they numbered seven hundred and thirty-eight. Although many of this number returned from the War, Father O’ Marra did not live to see all his parish families reunited. He died on August 14, 1945, the same day the Japanese surrendered-ending World War II. During the next ten years Our Lady of Victory Parish was under the direction of two pastors: Reverend William J. Finneran from 1945 to 1950 and Reverend Joseph A. Doyle from 1950 to 1955. Immediately after the War there was a dramatic increase in the parish population. And with each succeeding year the enrollment at the school kept increasing in the same proportion. It became necessary to make changes in the school building. The auditorium was converted into six classrooms and the gymnasium and bowling alley were removed to make room for an auditorium. There were now ten classrooms, a kindergarden, principal’s office, and a nurse’s office. By 1950, the enrollment had increased to four hundred and fifteen students. The Business School, on the other hand, had suffered considerable financial losses. The post-war growth of larger public and private schools drained the capacity of the parish school. It was unable to obtain sufficient and competent teachers so the Business School was closed in June 1955. In September, 1955, Father Doyle was transferred by His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Spellman, to the pastorate of the church of Saint Francis Xavier, Bronx, where after a few months he was elevated to rank of a Domestic Prelate with the title Right Reverend Monsignor.  A Time of Renewal On October 1, 1955, Reverend Clifford J. Smith assumed the pastorate of Our Lady of Victory Church. The fifteen years of Father Smith’s pastorate were marked by a number of changes in the parish and school and be the pastoral renewal of the Catholic Church throughout the world. The condition at the school was the first to draw Father Smith’s attention. At that time the school had an enrollment of four hundred and thirty-four pupils. As time went on the school became more and more overcrowded. It was necessary to divide the principal’s office and make it a combined principal’s and nurse’s office. The kindergarten was placed in the auditorium thus giving two additional classrooms to the school. At the request of Father Smith, a meeting of the Archdiocesan Council took place in the rectory on July 9, 1956. The Council recommended that the parish obtain the necessary property for an addition to the school. No progress was made at that time, however, and the matter was postponed temporarily. In the meantime, to offset the overcrowded condition existing in the school, two classes were held in the old Victory Business School, which was then referred to as the “Annex.” These classes were the eight grade and the combination second and third grades. These classes remained in the “Annex” for three years. In 1959, the school enrollment was four hundred and ninety-nine students. It was now imperative to enlarge the school facilities. A second meeting of the Archdiocesan Council was held at the rectory on January 14, 1960. At this meeting there was present Bishop Joseph M. Perricone, Monsignor Bartholomew Filitti, Monsignor Francis X. Walsh, Monsignor John J, Corrigan, Monsignor Francis Costello, Father Smith and Mr. Clifford Golden of the Building Commission of the Archdiocese. At this meeting it was definitely decided that a new modern and larger school building and a new convent were to be erected. Additional property had to be acquired. This entailed the purchasing and demolishing of four housed in North Fifth Avenue. The services of McCoy and Blair, Architects, of White Plains, New York were obtained and plans for the new buildings were formulated. A fund-raising campaign was inaugurated under the direction of B.J. Doran Associated of Westport, Connecticut, with Bishop Pernicone presiding on the opening night. Finally the plans having been approved by the Archdiocesan Building Commission, the contract for the construction of the new building was awarded to the Iorio Construction Company of Mount Vernon, New York, as general contractors. The ground-blessing and ground breaking ceremonies for the new Our Lady of Victory School, Convent and Auditorium were held on Sunday morning, July 30, 1961. The blessing of the grounds was conducted by Father Smith, ground was broken by him and Sister Imelda Marie, O.P., Principal of Our Lady of Victory School. Besides the parish priests, there were in attendance: Monsignor Charles O’ Connor Sloane, Pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Church; Monsignor John J. Coffey, Pastor of Saint Saint Ursula’s Church; Father Paul Bertolami, O.F.M., Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church; and Father Joseph Lumia, Pastor of Francis of Assisi Church, all of Mount Vernon; also Father Harold Hicks, Associate Principal of Dubois High School; Father Frederick D’ Souso, S.J., of Fordham University; Father Bernard J. O’ Connor of Sacred Heart Church, Mount Vernon; and Father Yvon Belanger of Valley Field Seminary, Canada. The construction work on the new buildings progressed very rapidly. In the meantime, on July 21, 1961, Our Holy Father, Pope John XXIII of sacred memory honored our pastor and parish by elevating Father Smith to the rank of a Domestic Prelate of the Holy See with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor. Monsignor Smith was invested in the robes of a Domestic Prelate by Bishop Joseph Pernicone on Sunday evening, October 22, 961, in Our Lady of Victory Church. During the ensuming months the construction of the new school, convent, auditorium and cafeteria was almost completed. On Sunday, May 6, 1962, the ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone was held. Monsignor Smith officiated at the laying of the cornerstone assisted by Father Sheehy, Father McKay and Father Peter Puthenpurakal. The ceremonies began at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon and consisted of the Solemn May Procession and Crowning of Our Blessed Mother as Queen of the May. The procession formed in the old schoolyard and consisted of the school children, the societies of the church and the parishioners. The procession proceeded to the church for the crowning ceremonies and benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Then it proceeded from the church down West Sidney Avenue and down North Fifth Avenue to the main entrance of the new school at 28 North Fifth Avenue. The laying of the cornerstone then took place. Many civil officials and parishioners and friends attended the ceremony. The new school building is a three-story, steel-concrete, fireproofed building. It has sixteen classrooms, capable of accommodating right hundred students; a principal’s office with a secretary’s office; a health suite consisting of a nurse’s office, examining room and an infirmary; a Sister’s lounge; a lay teacher’s lounge; superintendent’s office and workshop and storage rooms; an auditorium-gymnasium capable of seating over eight hundred people; and a cafeteria with a capacity for one hundred and fifty at a seating. On the top floor of the school building is the convent capable of accommodation seventeen nuns and consisting of a fair-sized chapel, refectory, community room, visitor parlors and an outdoor terrace. The entrance to the convent at 38 North Fifth Avenue is by a special elevator at the north end of the building. The new buildings are equipped with a combination manual, electric and automatic fire alarm system. The cost of the new buildings and their furnishings and equipment was one million and a half dollars. It was then decided to move the students into the new school building even though it was not one hundred percent completed. This was made necessary by the fact that the old brick school building had to be demolished in order that the north end of the new building could be completed and the school playground constructed. On Monday October 15, 1962, five hundred and fifty-five pupils assembled in their classrooms in the old school building. They then proceeded to the church for Holy Mass in honor of the Holy Ghost imploring the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon themselves and the new school. After Mass they proceeded to their new classrooms in the new school building. Thus was signalized the end of the old brick school and the beginning of the new school of Our Lady of Victory. With the dedication of the new school, convent and auditorium the parish was physically fit for the renewal in the Church which was underway at the Second Vatican Council. The entire Church was looking to the future. There would be the period of change, of transition during the remainder of the 1960’s. At first, they were small and gradual. Then, the more dramatic changes- the greater participation of the laity as commentators and lectors, the Mass celebrated with the priest facing the people, and the use of vernacular. These changes during the period of transition led to the decades of the Seventies when the parish looked to the future with the faith, the hope, and the courage of the founders. The retirement in November 197- of the beloved Monsignor Smith, whose vision and determination had provided adequate modern facilities for present and future generations marked the end of an era past. But, it also ushered in a new era with the appointment of Monsignor John Harrington as Pastor. Monsignor Smith gave, not the past, but the future to Monsignor Harrington. With the growth of the Portuguese Community in Mount Vernon during the mid-nineteen sixties the parish sought to minister to their spiritual needs. A shrine to Our Lady of Fatima was built on the east side of the church. It is a center of devotion for all. Each year in October, the Portuguese community honors Our Lady of Fatima with a special Mass and a Candlelight Procession through neighboring streets. Although most of the Portuguese have begun to attend other parishes, they return for the annual Mass and Procession. In 1971, Our Lady of Victory Parish celebrated the centennial anniversary of its founding. On the seventh of November, His Eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke came to celebrate the Anniversary Mass. Concelebrants were Monsignor Harrington, and the former pastors, Monsignor Smith and Monsignor Doyle. Radical changes began to take place in the City of Mount Vernon in the late nineteen seventies. Families began to move from the area as urban development took place in the center of the city. Our Lady of Victory Parish was seriously affected by the changes. The School enrollment of five hundred and fifty-five students in 1962 dropped to less than two hundred by 1980. In fact, in 1985, it was only one hundred forty-five. During this period of change three senior citizen buildings were erected in the parish. With young families moving to other areas and their being little availability for new young families to settle in the parish area, growth has been limited. In November 1979, Monsignor Harrington was transferred to Immaculate Conception Parish in Stoney Point, New York. Father Dermot R. Brennan was appointed Pastor in 1980. In 1984, the Parish celebrated the ninetieth Anniversary of the dedication of the Church. For the occasion the interior of the Church was reburished. Father Brennan served as Pastor until September 1985 when he was appointed Pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church in Yorktown Heights, New York. On October 23, 1985, His Eminence John Cardinal O’ Connor appointed the Reverend Thomas F. Scalon was not a stranger to Mount Vernon. He was an Assistant Priest at Saints Peter and Paul Parish from 1954 to 1974. Since becoming Pastor, Father Scalon has fostered the perpetual Novena devotions of the Miraculous Medal each Monday, the Saint Jude Novena on Thursday and Sacred Heart Devotions and First Friday with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a Holy Hour. He also renewed the Forty Hours Devotion and the celebration of Corpus Christi with an outdoor procession. In 1990 he gave approval to the establishment of devotion to Madonna dell’ Arco. The beautiful statues of the Madonna which had been hidden for years in the Sacristy was given a place of honor as a shrine was built for it. Our Blessed Mother under the title, Madonna dell’ Arco, is venerated by our parishioners who came from Arco near Naples. Each year now we hold a special Novena for nine weeks prior to Easter Monday. Also, Madonna dell’ Arco is honored on the last weekend of August with special Masses and processions through streets of the city and the parish. During his years as Pastor, Father Scalon has greatly enhanced the physical aspects of the Parish. He began by installing a new furnace in the Church two weeks after his arrival. Some of the improvements in the Church building would include new Church doors, new vents in stain glass windows, new windows in the Sacristy, new kneelers, refinishing of the pews, wainscoting and woodwork in Organ Loft, installation of energy saving lighting, refinishing of walls and ceiling in soft pastel colors. While improvements were being made in the Church, work was slowly moving along in the Rectory. A new furnace was installed; the entire interior of the Rectory was renovated from the basement to the third floor. The electric wiring was updated and air conditioners were installed in every room. Our School building is rated by all who visit as being outstanding. In addition to the constant effort to maintain its excellence, Father Scanlon had energy saving lighting installed throughout the School and the Auditorium as well as black-top in the School Yard. In October`995, honor and recognition came to Father Scalon and to Our Lady of Victory Parish. His Eminence Cardinal John O’ Connor announced that our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, had appointed Father Scalon a Prelate of Honor with the title Monsignor. On November 30, 1995, a happy contingent of parishioners journeyed to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for Monsignor Scalon’s investiture by Cardinal O’ Connor. Our parish community today is much smaller than it was as we celebrated the centennial anniversary of our founding. As we celebrate the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary, it can be said that everything is changed, yet nothing lost. The achievements of the past are a challenge for the future.