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The History of
Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Parish
in Richmond Hill

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A description of the dedication ceremony was found in the Brooklyn Times. "The ceremony began at 10 o'clock and was witnessed by several hundred people from Brooklyn in addition to the parishioners. At the rectory the bishop and attending clergy, vested and formed in procession followed in the wake of the cross-bearer and acolytes to the grand central portal of the church, outside the building. Standing the Bishop repeated in Latin this prayer "Assist we beseech thee O Lord, our actions by the holy inspiration" etc. Then the Bishop began at the antiphon. This was as followed by the chorus chanting the "Miserere." In the meantime, toward the right, the procession of clergymen proceeded around the exterior of the church, the Bishop sprinkling the walls above and below with holy water.

Returning to the place where the procession started the antiphon, "Asperges," was repeated by the clergy and the Bishop offered prayer. The clergy entered the church, and chanting the Litany of the Saints proceeded to the high altar, where the Bishop blessed the church and altar.

During the solemn high mass which followed the Bishop, in cope and miter, occupied a throne on the gospel side of the altar. The Rev. M. J. Moran, pastor of the Church of the Nativity, this city, was celebrant of the mass. The Rev. Henry Gallagher, of St. Michael's Church, was deacon, and the Rev. Father Durick, of St. Ann's was sub-deacon. The Very Rev. J/. P. McNamara, V. G., and the Rev. John I. Barrett were the deacons of honor, and the Rev. Walter Powers, of the Transfiguration Church were master of ceremonies. The Rev. Father Doyle, C. S. P., delivered an eloquent sermon. He preached on "The Unity, Sanctity and Indefectibility of the Church." The Rev. William Maguire, pastor of St. Benedict Joseph Labre Church, told how pleased he was at the efforts put forth by the members of the congregation in aiding him to erect the new church, and to the clergy and visiting friends he expressed his thanks for their attendance. The Bishop spoke briefly. The church could seat only 450 and was filled to capacity.

The following year 1894 saw major changes that affected the hamlets of Clarenceville, Richmond Hill and Morris Park. On September 27, 1894 the New Village was incorporated. According to locals newspapers the movement to incorporate Richmond Hill and certain surrounding territory proved successful, the project having been carried by vote at a special election. The election was conducted by Supervisor Everitt and Town Clerk McCook. The total number of votes cast was 242. Of this 144 were in favor of incorporation and 98 against. The incorporated district included Richmond Hill, Morris Park and Clarenceville. On November 15, 1894 elections were held for officers for the new village of Richmond Hill. A president, treasurer, and three trustees were to be decided. There were 213 votes polled. Alrick Hubbell Man, son of Albon Platt Man, founder of Richmond Hill was elected the first President of Richmond Hill. The newly elected officers were sworn in the next day. Thus the hamlets of Clarenceville, Richmond Hill and Morris Park were incorporated into the Village of Richmond Hill and Saint Benedict Joseph Parish was now a part of the Village of Richmond Hill.

Earlier in that same year on June 10, 1894 the first canonical visitation and administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation was held. Forty-six were confirmed, of whom forty were children and six adults.

The next structure to be built in the parish of Saint Benedict Joseph was the rectory in 1895. The wooden edifice would rival any of the mansions erected throughout Richmond Hill. Its massive front porch with elegant double columns added a feeling of strength and stability. The parish was noted for its magnificent and spacious green lawns where numerous social affairs were held.

Social life was as important to the congregation as their spiritual life. During the early years many societies sprang to life, including a Dramatic Society which put on plays and musical presentations.

Village life came to an abrupt end when in January 1898 Richmond Hill was swept into the whirlpool of Greater New York City. Now Richmond Hill was a part of the borough of Queens and part of the greatest city in the United States.

Sometime before 1901 a wooden Parish Hall was erected behind the church and was used for a number of years for many parish events and socials. It also served as the Sunday school building.

The new century marked a change in leadership. In 1900 Father Maguire was transferred to Transfiguration Parish. A sad farewell was given when a number of parishioners gathered at the rectory and presented their former pastor with a gold chalice in token of their love and esteem. Timothy Deehan, chairman of the presentation committee, uncovered the chalice, which was of an exquisite design and workmanship, richly set with sapphires, rubies, emeralds, amethysts and diamonds.

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