History of Our Lady of Grace Church
The history of Our Lady of Grace begins January 6, 1935, when the fist Mass was celebrated in a rented store on Avenue X by the Rev. James Byrnes of Guardian Angel Parish.
Six months later, June 28, 1935, Rev. Salvatore Cafiero was appointed the first pastor with the authority to build a church. On July 2, 1935, Father Cafiero received permission from Bishop Thomas E. Molloy to dedicate the parish to Our Lady of Grace.
March 8th, 1936 marks the beginning of an important year. Ground is broken and construction on the main church begins.
April 5th of that year the parish gathered under a huge tent erected on West Street near Avenue X for Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
On September 5th, the church bell, which was popularly called “Salvatore” was blesses. On September 20, the last Mass was celebrated in the Avenue X store.
Parishioners processed with statues to the new church and the first Mass was offered in the new church at 7:00am on September 27, 1936 by Father Cafiero. On November 15, His Excellency, Bishop Thomas E. Molloy dedicated the church of Our Lady of Grace and confirmed the first class of 908 candidates.
November 18, 1938, the convent was blessed by Monsignor Alfonso Arcese. Four Pallottine Sisters were welcomed to the parish, Mother Gemma, Superior, Sister Yolanda, Veronica and Sister Amalia.
Because of rapid growth, and within four years after completion of the main church, work had already begun on August 27, 1940 for an extension. On December 22, the new extension was used for the first time.
By 1942, in a show of devotion and love to Our Lady of Grace, the final payment of the church debt was made, just six years after construction of the Church began. In celebration of the event a large dinner dance was held at the Columbus Club in October, 1942. In that same year, during World Was II, an editorial staff of 22 ladies compiled and mailed the parish News to 3,000 servicemen.
On December 8, 1945, a Victory dinner dance was held at the hotel Saint George. During the year of 1946, the wood floor in the church was covered by asphalt tile. A new marble altar, with a triptych above, was installed in the sanctuary and stained glass windows were dedicated to the memory of 36 deceased servicemen of the parish. Also in that same year, the statues of Saint Joseph and Saint Anthony were donated for the church grounds.
In June of 1948, Father George Scalfani came to Our Lady of Grace from St. John the Evangelist Parish. In January of 1949, the school building fund reached $276,500. In 1951, construction on the school was started and by September of 1952, the Parish School was opened for the first and second grades under the supervision of the Pallotine Sisters with Mother M. Aurilia as the first principal.
In 1954, the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace was dedicated during the Marian Year. Father Cafiero was raised to the dignity of Papal Chamberlain with the title Very Reverend Monsignor, by Pope Pius XII.
The Bishop appointed Monsignor to the school board and called him to be an examiner of the junior clergy.
In 1955, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the parish, an original play was produced, ” A Parish Grows in Brooklyn”. By Our Lady of Grace’s 25th Anniversary, the young parish had grown to such a size that in 1960 the parish school had well over 1,000 students registered. In September of 1958, Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini visited the parish and blessed the Youth Center, then under construction. At the end of the year, the Auditorium/Youth Center was completed and opened. The convent was completed in 1964. Work began on the baseball athletic field that spring. In September of that year, the weekly envelope system was started. By May of 1965 the baseball athletic field was dedicated; in November of 1967 Adult Education began via Diocesan Television.
The beloved Founder-Pastor, Monsignor Salvatore Cafiero died at Brooklyn Hospital on October 14, 1969.
In January 1970, Father Dominic Sclafani was instlled as th new pastor of Our Lady of Grace. On October of that year, the parish memorial and playground were dedicated in memory of Monsignor Cafiero.
In 1978, Father Sclafani and Our Lady of Grace parish were honored to give the blessing which opened the February session of the United States Congress. The year 1981 saw investiture of Father Sclafani as Monsignor and a large testimonial dinner to honor a most valued parishioner, Joseph Veltri. In 1982, Monsignor Sclafani was honored with a retirement dinner and on January 2, 1983, Father Dominick F. Cutrone was installled as the new pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish.
Father Cutrone was born in Brooklyn NY and attended P.S. 145 in Bushwick and the now closed Holy Trinity High School in Williamsburg. He received his undergraduate degree from St. John’s University and spent four years at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, Long Island. He was ordained in 1955 and earned his Masters Degree in Guidance Counseling from Fordham University. Father Cutrone began serving as a priest at St. Bernadette’s in Dyker Heights before moving on to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg and St. Finbar in Bensonhurst. In 1977, Father Cutrone became pastor of St. Agnes in downtown Brooklyn and in 1983, he became pastor of Our Lady of Grace. Through the years, Father Cutrone proved to many parishioners of Our Lady of Grace that this parish truly is “The Parish with a Family Tradition”. In the Fall of 2000, Father Cutrone rededicated the Parish Memorial and playground in memory of Monsignor Cafiero. Father Cutrone retired in January of 2001.
On March 25, 2001, Our Lady of Grace celebrated the installation of the new Pastor, Rev. Thomas F. Leach.