Our Lady of Mercy Beginnings When Father Schwebius, curate of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Ridgewood, received his assignment on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, September 23, 1953, he suggested to his Excellency Bishop Thomas Molloy that the new parish carry her name. In October, Father Schwebius diligently searched for a place to house his church and serve his flock. He finally found an old barn belonging to the John Pelkowski family located on South Oyster Bay Road and Old Country Road, and asked the family for permission to use it. With permission granted, Father enlisted the help of 60 volunteers who went to work in the stall and loft, cleaning and emptying, reinforcing and rebuilding. With many generations of family accumulation piled up in the old barn, there was much to be removed before anything could begin, -- fourteen truckloads were carried away. On October 18, 1953, between 500 and 600 people attended the first Masses. Three babies received the sacrament of Baptism that day in the converted barn. It wasn't long before the parishioners discovered that their new church was already too small to care for the fast-growing population of Catholics in the area. Mr. John Froehlich donated five acres for the use of the parish, and a model home at 90 Froehlich Farm Road, adjacent to the donated acreage, became the rectory. The parish boundary extended all the way to the Suffolk County line at this time.
From the beginning, the lay people, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Priests were dedicated to the common goal of establishing a parish, and gave selflessly to every phase of parish life. First, they gave their attention to religious education for the children, and volunteers conducted classes in their homes in each neighborhood, a total of 45 First Communion and Prayer classes in all. At the close of the term of instruction, Father Schwebius examined the children, and a three-day retreat was held in the barn-church. God indeed blessed this undertaking because in three consecutive terms, almost 1100 children received their First Holy Communion.
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