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Located near the base of First Hill, at the corner of James Street and Eighth Avenue, Trinity Parish Church is one of Seattle's oldest continually meeting congregations and the "Mother Church" of Episcopal mission activities in the city. The first Episcopal service in Seattle was conducted at the Methodist Episcopal "White Church" in July 1855, but a parish was not established for another decade.Formally established in August 1865, a lay vestry organized Trinity Parish, Seattle's first Episcopal parish, as the "unorganized mission" of Trinity Church, which builts its first church at 3rd Avenue and Jefferson Street in 1870.As with other western churches of this time, preachers stayed for only a few years and occasionally years would pass between preachers. During this time of inconsistency, the church was still able to develop into an "organized mission." The Diocese of Olympia assigned Rev. Bonnell to serve the "mission" parish, until 1878, when the vestry then "called" its first permanent Rector, George Herbert Watson. George Herbert Watson arrived from New Jersey, in 1878.The growing church laid the groundwork for its outreach by establishing five mission churches in the next 10 years. In 1885, the Parish organized Grace Hospital; one of the city's earliest, at the corner of 8th Avenue and James Street. Grace did not survive beyond 1894.It built a small church at 3rd Avenue and Jefferson Street in 1870, and consecrated in June 1871. Trinity Parish's wooden building was one of many downtown structures consumed in The Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, but the church, optimistic like the city itself, immediately rebuilt.It asked Chicago architect Henry Starbuck to design a church in the English Gothic Revival style as an architectural tribute to their faith's English origins. Alexander and opened in June 1892.It was severely damaged by fire in January 1902, when another fire swept through the interior, leaving only the building's irregularly coursed rubble masonry walls.Undaunted, Trinity hired a young local architect John Graham Sr., asking him to design a structure modeled on traditional English stone churches while increasing the building's size.Graham reused the exterior walls, but expanded the transept's dimensions and added a tower and a spire. Despite the additions, Graham maintained the English Gothic Revival style while adding German stained glass windows and an altar of Italian marble.Trinity Parish opened its new church in January 1903, and maintained an active ministry to all classes in downtown Seattle. Trinity Parish was designated a National Historic Landmark, in 1976.The building was rendered unusable by seismic damage sustained during the February 2001, Nisqually earthquake but a campaign was launched to restore the building, and members of the congregation had pledged or given more than $2.5 million by February 2003. Peter's Parish, to serve Seattle's growing Japanese American community.Trinity Parish made national headlines in March 1909, when Gowan officiated the then controversial "mixed-race marriage" between Gunjiro Aoki and Gladys Emery. At the time, such bonds were illegal in California and Oregon, but not in Washington. Bliss, who remained Rector until his death, in 1924.A Parish House designed by John Graham Sr. Stanley Mook, pursued an aggressive urban ministry during The Great Depression, but his financial management disturbed the Vestry. Bailey succeeded him at Trinity.Trinity Parish became the "mother church" for regional Episcopalians when lenders foreclosed on St. Mark's Cathedral, in 1940. Mark's from the Army, which had been using it during World War II.Trinity expanded and diversified its downtown ministry under Rectors John P. Langpaap, who led the congregation for a quarter of a century between 1957 and 1982.Following World War II, the Parish accumulated substantial property through purchases and gifts, including the dilapidated Darrell Hotel, which it converted into a halfway house. Portions of these holdings were sold for construction of the I-5 and Jefferson House senior housing complex, in the 1960s.The Parish was a major supporter of the "Neighbors in Need" food bank program. It maintained this tradition by housing the headquarters of Northwest Harvest and other social outreach efforts.Like many urban parishes, the congregation began to shrink in the 1960s, declining steeply from a peak of about 650 communicants. Allan Parker and current Rector Paul Collins.Modern highways, offices, and apartments have diminished Trinity's view of downtown, but Trinity Parish is one of Seattle's oldest, continuously operating religious congregations, and its church is the oldest church structure in Seattle.
History of Trinity Church Wall Street
Trinity Church Wall Street is an active Episcopal Parish that has been an integral part of New York City’s history for more than 300 years.
In 1696, a small group of Anglicans (members of the Church of England) petitioned the Royal Governor Benjamin Fletcher of New York, then a mercantile colony, for a charter granting the church legal status. Fletcher granted the charter in 1697 and the first Trinity Church was erected at the head of Wall Street facing the Hudson River. Although Anglican services had been held in the colony’s fort chapel, the building was the first Anglican Church on the island of Manhattan.
To ensure the church's success, the governor granted Trinity a six-year lease on a tract of land north of Trinity known as the King's Farm. In 1705, Queen Anne made this land grant permanent by giving 215 acres, which Trinity has used over the years to support the mission and ministry of Trinity and Anglican Church.
By 1750, the population of New York City had more than doubled. Services in Trinity Church were packed, and the church decided to construct its first chapel-of-ease for its increasingly far-flung communicants. St. George’s Chapel opened on the corner of Beekman and Cliff Streets on the eastern side of the island in 1752. In 1766, with New York’s population nearing 20,000, Trinity built St. Paul’s Chapel just up Broadway at the corner of Vesey Street. Today, St. Paul’s is the only colonial-era church remaining in Manhattan, and the oldest public building in continuous use in the borough. It celebrates its 250th anniversary in October 2016.
The first Trinity Church building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1776 during the Revolutionary War. St. Paul’s Chapel was saved by a bucket brigade that ran from the Hudson River up to the chapel’s roof. After the war Trinity, and all Anglican churches in the former colonies, legally separated from the Church of England and became the Episcopal Church, though both remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Following his inauguration as President of the United States in 1789, George Washington prayed in St. Paul’s Chapel. The next year, the second Trinity Church was completed. This church faced Wall Street and was both longer and wider than the first. The new steeple soared to a height of 200 feet. President Washington and members of his government were regular worshipers in the new Trinity building during the brief period New York City was the capital of the United States. Notable parishioners from this time include John Jay and Alexander Hamilton.
In 1838, the support beams of the second Trinity Church buckled. An architect named Richard Upjohn was hired to repair the building, but recommended demolishing the structure and constructing a new church. Upjohn, a fan of Anglo-Catholic liturgical style and English Gothic architecture, designed a church that looked like a 14th-century English parish church. Trinity Church, consecrated on Ascension Day 1846, is considered one of the first and finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. With a 281-foot high steeple, Trinity was the tallest building in New York City until 1890.
At various times in its more than 300-year history, Trinity Parish has included a total of eleven different chapels. Some were created to serve scattered communicants who followed the general shift uptown in Manhattan. Others were founded to further missionary work in less well-to-do communities. Most chapels still in existence in the 1970s were made independent in 1976. The exceptions were the Chapel of St. Cornelius the Centurion on Governor’s Island, and St. Paul’s Chapel, which remains an active part of the Trinity parish. In addition, Trinity, sometimes called the “mother of churches,” has provided aid to more than 300 churches in the metropolitan area throughout its history.
Today, the small group of Anglicans that founded Trinity Church Wall Street has grown to a community of more than 1,200 members with a long history of ministry both locally and globally. Trinity has given away a portion of the original land grant from Queen Anne to aid other churches and uses what remains to support its ministries. From the founding of a Charity School in 1709, to support for Desmond Tutu in Apartheid-era South Africa, to a wide variety of programs today, Trinity has evolved to respond to the spiritual and material needs of a changing, interconnected world.
Trinity has had twelve Rectors in its history:
- Pelham Williams 1861-1863
- Simon G. Fuller 1863-1865
- Francis Goodwin 1865-1871
- Edwin E. Johnson 1871-1883
- Storrs O. Seymour 1883-1893
- Ernest DeF. Miel 1893-1925
- Raymond Cunningham 1925-1950
- E. Kingsland Van Winkle 1951-1971
- Edward P. Townsend 1971-1979
- William R. Payton 1980-1982
- William J. Eakins 1984-2002
- Donald L. Hamer 2004-2019
More than one hundred fifty years after its founding, Trinity Episcopal Church continues to actively discern what God is doing in the Greater Hartford area and in the world, seeking to further that mission through ministries of welcome, hope and healing.
St. Thomas More-St. Edmund (Founded 1957)
Fr. Francis Donnelly
Fr. James Smyth (1960)
Fr. John Sexton (1967)
Fr. George Mihovich (1971)
Msgr. Michael Connelly (1981)
Msgr. Michael Curran (2005)
Blessed Trinity (Founded 2008)
Msgr. Michael Curran (2008-2013)
Fr. Peter Rayder (2013-2020)
Fr. Michael L. Gelfant (2020 - )
Father Michael Curran
Father Joseph Keane
Father John Fecher
Father Bob Lawsine
Father John Fitzpatrick
Father Michael Perry
Father Hugh Byrne
Father Vincent O’Connell
Father Michael Gribbon
Father Francis Obu-Mends, CSSp
Father Sean Suckiel
Father Ray Basilious
Father Jeremy Canna
Deacon Bernard Deschler
Deacon Richard Lee
Deacon James Ruoff
“HISTORY OF BLESSED TRINITY PARISH”
1924 - 2009 (Being Updated)
SAINT GENEVIEVE CHURCH
SAINT EDMUND CHURCH
Back in the early 20’s and 30’s, the Rockaway Point area was strictly a summer colony. There were few houses built back in those days, and even fewer all year-round residents. The Point was crisscrossed with many creeks and whenever the ocean tides crested, many parts of the peninsula were inundated. As a result, there were no sidewalks or roads, no streetlights, and boardwalks had to be erected for the use of the pedestrians. In fact, it wasn’t until Jamaica Bay was dredged in the early 30’s and some sand brought here, that this situation was finally remedied. Visitors to the Point in those days came either by ferry from Sheepshead Bay, docking at the two piers still standing on the Bayside, or by private bus from the Rockaway’s.
The only Catholic Church in this vicinity was St. Francis de Sales which was established back in the year 1906. As the number of visitors to the Point kept increasing, the Pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish decided to build a mission church in Roxbury in 1924 dedicated to St. Genevieve and later a second little Mission Church in Rockaway Point dedicated to St. Edmund I. This Mission Church was erected on the northwest corner of our present Shopping Center. Back in those days, a priest used to come to the Point from St. Francis de Sales each week in order to celebrate Mass and to hear confessions beforehand.
As time went on, more and more visitors arrived. Many of them were so impressed with its cool breezes in the summer and its rugged beauty in the winter, that they began to lease land and to build homes, many fitted for all year-round usage. Finally in the year 1937, when the City of New York announced that a new bridge, to be called the Marine Bridge, would soon be built, linking the mainland to the Rockaways, the late Archbishop Thomas E. Molloy, D.D., Bishop of Brooklyn Diocese, decided that it was time for Rockaway Point to have its own parish. And so in January of the year 1937, the Archbishop appointed Father Edward O’Reilly to be the first Pastor of the new parish. Unfortunately Father O’Reilly died suddenly, after only six months in office, and was succeeded by Rev. William O’Keefe, who was to serve as Pastor for the next eight years. For the first few years, Father O’Keefe lived in a temporary Rectory located at 142nd Street, Neponsit, and worked alone except during the summer when he was helped by priests sent from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It was Father O’Keefe who established the first Holy Name Society, and Altar Boys. The first Baptism was performed in the newly established Parish on July 3, 1937 when Maureen Ann Gifford was received into the Church. The first wedding took place on February 10, 1938, when George Carmody and Emily Reidman were joined together in holy wedlock. And the very first Mass celebrated by a newly ordained priest took place on Sunday morning, June 10, 1937, when Father Michael, O.F.M. celebrated his Mass in St. Edmund’s Church.
Because of its ready accessibility, after the Marine Bridge officially opened in July 1938, the number of visitors began to increase dramatically. Soon Father O’Keefe began to add extra Masses at St. Edmund’s, Rockaway Point. Then in order to accommodate the many who were then building homes at Breezy Point, he asked the Archbishop for permission to build a second Church in that area. The Archbishop consented, and a few months later, work was begun on the new Church, also dedicated to St. Edmund, which would be built near the juncture of Oceanside and Clinton Walk. In order to distinguish between the two churches, the Pastor named the first church at Rockaway Point, St. Edmund’s of Rockaway Point, and the second, St. Edmund’s of Breezy Point. Long time residents at the Point will admit that this caused a bit of confusion.
In the year 1945, Father O’Keefe was changed to another parish and was succeeded by Rev. Cornelius Buckley. Father Buckley soon discovered that even though there were now two Churches at the Point they were still inadequate to handle the huge crowds who arrived every summer. And so he began a Fund Raising Campaign in order to build a newer and much larger Church on the opposite side of Rockaway Point Boulevard, across from the Catholic Club. Permission was soon obtained for the new Church to be built. But before the construction began, Father Buckley was made Pastor of another Parish in the Brooklyn Diocese, and was succeeded by Father Francis Donnelly.
ST. THOMAS MORE CHURCH
Father Donnelly, who had received his Canon Law Degree at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., and who had taught Canon Law in the major Seminary out in Huntington, Long Island, had very little parish experience. But he soon showed that he was an able administrator. It was he who carried out his predecessor’s plans for a new Church. Construction began in the year 1953 and was completed almost a year later. Because of the confusion caused by having two Churches dedicated to the very same saint, Father Donnelly petitioned the Archbishop for permission to dedicate the new Church when completed to St. Thomas More, who was also a Lawyer, and who later served as Chancellor of all England under King Henry VIII. The Archbishop agreed. When the late Bishop Raymond Kearney, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, came to dedicate the Church on Sunday morning, July 18, 1954, he gave it that name. At the conclusion of the Dedication Mass, as a reward for his labors at the Major Seminary and at the Point, the Bishop invested Father Donnelly in the robes of Monsignor, and he became a Domestic Prelate.
In 1955, Father Bartholomew Sharkey, an associate pastor, asked a few women to form the Rosary Society (now known as the Altar Rosary Society). During the early years the members were each assigned a day of the month to say the rosary. The group was involved in making cancer pads for St. Rose Home and translating books into Braille for the Xavier Society for the Blind which supplied Catholic reading material to the blind in the U.S. and Canada. The group held its first fundraiser for the parish in 1955 and continues to support the parish with various fundraisers throughout the year.Members of the group continue to lead the Rosary immediately before the weekday Masses.
Monsignor Donnelly was also responsible for the building of our Rectory and Social Center, containing a gymnasium. When the Center was dedicated in July of the year 1957, a Musical Concert was presented, featuring Gabor Corellia and Emilla Cundari, famous Metropolitan Opera Stars of that era. A short time later, Monsignor Donnelly wrote an article for the “Rockaway Point News” in which he stated that all buildings were free and clear of debt and Mass attendance during the winter months was approximately 2,000 persons, while during the summer it more than tripled to almost 7,000 people. A short time after the new Church of St. Thomas More was completed, the old Mission Church of St. Edmund’s, which had been built on the corner of Bedford Avenue, was demolished.
In the year 1960, Monsignor Donnelly was appointed a Synodal Judge in the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal and he left St. Thomas More – St. Edmund’s Parish. He was succeeded by Rev. James Smyth. Father Smyth left the Point in the year 1967 and was succeeded by Rev. John Sexton.
Although Father Sexton was sickly at the time of his appointment, he always tried to give his parishioners his very best. During his Pastorate, an Arts and Crafts Group was formed, and, over the years, by the sale of their handiworks, brought added income to the Parish. He also gave permission for a Garden Club to be formed at Breezy and its members have been meeting every spring, summer, and fall since. Father Sexton died in the year 1971 and was succeeded by Rev. George Mihovich.
Father Mihovich loved to travel, and during his Pastorate, he organized many Parish Tours to foreign countries, during which he acted as Chaplain and tour Guide. He put new roofs on the two Churches, installed Air Conditioning Units, insulated the Rectory and Gymnasium, and beautified the rock gardens out front. Father Mihovich was also interested in sports. Because of his enthusiasm, our C.Y.O. flourished. Hundreds of our youth took part in our Basketball, Baseball, Track and Swimming Programs and many of them won cups and medals because of their athletic ability. It was Father Mihovich too who decided that the Church of St. Edmund’s should remain open during the week for Daily Mass. Formerly it had been opened only on weekends. Father Mihovich also invited the Agape Movement to establish a Center at St. Edmund’s. Since it started in 1980, it has attracted to its meetings, not only many of our parishioners, but also countless visitors from Brooklyn, Long Island, and even New Jersey. Father Mihovich retired as Pastor in the year 1981 and was succeeded by Rev. Michael Connelly.
Under Father Connelly’s expert direction, the Parish continued to flourish. He hired Sister Joseph Amata to be our Religious Coordinator in 1983 and under her astute direction our First Sacraments, CCD and Confirmation Programs have grown from 69 children in 1983 to our present enrollment of 205. The parish was delighted when Father Connolly was appointed a Monsignor in 1987. Monsignor Connelly encouraged the formation of a School of Religion for Adults which meets during Advent and Lent. Msgr. Connelly made needed repairs to the parish plant, installed bright new floodlights outside the Church, Rectory and Parish Center and in 1990 had an extensive renovation of the rectory completed to make much needed office space and for CCD classrooms. On July12,1987, the parish celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a Mass on the ocean beach at Bedford Avenue, and a reception that evening on the plaza in front of St. Thomas More Church. More than 1,000 people attended the anniversary celebrations. A ticket to the reception cost $10.00, which included food, liquid refreshments and dancing to two bands.
During the years Msgr. Connelly was pastor, the parish was home to many associate priests at different times and in 2007 Jim Ruoff, a longtime parishioner, was ordained a Deacon and joined the Staff.
Monsignor Connelly and Father Vincent O’Connell were instrumental in organizing the hospital and home bound elderly visiting ministries on the Rockaway Peninsula, and our parish is still active in this mission. The parish library started in 1996, and was housed in St. Edmund’s. The first Parish Show was presented in 1988 and has been a yearly source of entertainment for our parish by our local talent during the last weekend in June.
The community was shaken to its very core on September 11, 2001, when twenty-nine of its members lost their lives at the World Trade Center. Weekend after weekend, memorial Masses were said to standing room only crowds in remembrance of our lost parishioners. The community built a memorial on the bay beach near 217th Street, where Masses are said in tribute to those who lost their lives on that day. It is a common sight to see New York City Fire Department Engines, Trucks and ambulances parked near the memorial, as well as New York City Police department vehicles pulling in to allow their members to visit the memorial. In 2006 an additional memorial was dedicated in Roxbury. A memorial Mass is celebrated at one of these memorials, on a rotating basis, each year on September 11th.
The parish started a Drug Awareness Program in 2002, which sponsors lectures and group discussions for both teens and adults, with the participation of doctors, social workers, recovering addicts, as well as parish personnel.
In 2005, Monsignor Connelly retired as Pastor, but remained in residence as Pastor Emeritus. The Parish, although saddened by the retirement of their beloved Monsignor Connelly, welcomed back Monsignor Michael Curran who served here as a newly ordained priest from 1982 to 1985. In the time he was away from our parish Monsignor Curran studied in Rome, received a Doctor of Sacred Theology Degree, and became a Monsignor in 2003. Monsignor Curran came back as pastor of St. Thomas More - St. Edmund’s and administrator of St. Genevieve’s parish in Roxbury. He was remembered by the parishioners for his sharp wit and warmth, and was immediately embraced by all. Monsignor Curran instituted our first annual Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday, 2006 and encouraged all the children of the parish to participate. On the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 2006 we had our first annual evening Mass at the bay beach in front of Kennedy’s restaurant. On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4, 2006, the parishioners were encouraged to bring their animals to the Plaza in front of St. Thomas More Church for a blessing. In 2006 the Parish added a monthly Teen Mass to its already scheduled monthly Family Mass. Sister Mary Beata is kept busy arranging music liturgy for each of these Masses as well as her other responsibilities as the Director of Music for the Parish. At the behest of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Monsignor Curran also encouraged the formation of a Parish Pastoral Council to carry out the Bishop’s directions to revitalize each parish in the Brooklyn Diocese and develop a plan for each parish, with clear goals and objectives. To this end, the Parish Pastoral Council has conducted one-on-one interviews with the parishioners to hear the concerns and needs of the parish members, and has held two Parish Assemblies. Under Monsignor Curran’s guidance the first annual parish fair was held in the Spring of 2006, followed by the first annual doggie costume parade which happened in late summer, 2006. Monsignor Curran can be seen during any given day walking around the streets of the parish keeping abreast of parish activities, in the company of his newest associate, Monsignor D(og).
On November 25, 2007, our beloved Msgr. Michael Connelly died after a short illness. His wake and funeral Mass in St. Thomas More saw an outpouring of love and affection by his family here in the U.S. and those who traveled from Ireland to join us, by our past and present parishioners and by numerous others whose lives Msgr. Connelly touched in so many ways. After his funeral Mass in St. Thomas More Church, his remains were taken home to Ireland to be buried in Kilcooney Cemetery in his hometown in County Galway.
A NEW PARISH IS FORMED
In May, 2008, after two years preparation, St. Thomas More-St. Edmund Parish and St. Genevieve Parish were both closed and merged to form Blessed Trinity Parish. Monsignor Michael Curran was installed as the first pastor on May 18th, 2008 by Bishop Frank Caggiano at a Mass held in St. Thomas More Church. The parish offices, records and main church would all be located at St. Thomas More Church in Rockaway Point.
In June, 2008, Sr. Joseph Amata retired as our Director of Religious Education after twenty-five years of devoted service to our Parish. In September, 2008 Betsy Heinlein agreed to continue this important work for the children of our parish.
Here then we have a brief survey of the past history of our parish. As we all know, the history of any parish cannot be recounted only in a few pages or in a few faded photographs. No, the history of any parish can be seen only in the lives of the clergy, people, and children who lived there. During these years, Blessed Trinity Parish has been blessed with many wonderful parishioners who have contributed greatly to the progress of this parish. There were so many of them, that were we to try to mention them all by name in this history, we would fail miserably. We can be sure that they are all known to God, and after all, that is what really counts.
We pray to the Holy Spirit to help us discern the needs of our parish, to plan for our future, and to give us the courage we need to maintain our efforts to address the present and future of our Church.
Weekend Mass Schedule (in-person)
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Tuesday @ 7:30 AM in-person Mass
Wednesday @ 8:00 AM Virtual Morning Prayer
Wednesday @ 5:30 PM Virtual Contemplative Prayer (On Facebook)
Thursday @ 7:30 AM in-person Mass
Friday @ 8:00 AM Virtual Morning Prayer
History of Trinity Parish (Episcopal)
The cornerstone of Trinity Parish was laid on June 1, 1871. The earliest history of
Trinity Parish began in 1729, when the Rev. Samuel Johnson of Stratford,
Connecticut visited Westerly, Rhode Island and Wethersfield, Connecticut for
the purpose of establishing Episcopal churches at these places. These initial
efforts were unsuccessful.
In 1797, a church was organized and a building erected in the Newington section of
Wethersfield by the Society of Protestant Episcopalians. This group was made up
primarily of dissident members of the Congregational Church living in that
area. This attempt failed and was disorganized and the church was sold and
The Rev. John Williams who was connected with Washington College (now Trinity
College) preached a single sermon in Wethersfield during the year 1840 or 1841.
It was not until 1866, some 25 years later that Rev. Henry W. Nelson, Jr.,
rector of Good Shepherd Church in Hartford conferred with some local residents
of Wethersfield, and it was decided to arrange for a Sunday service.
The congregation met in Academy Hall in January of 1868. The total number attending
was about 120 persons. The Rev. Nelson was the preacher. A second service was
held in late January of 1868. Some 155 persons attended this service.
John Williams, Bishop of the Diocese, made a pastoral visit to Trinity Parish,
and it was determined to move ahead with the work of the mission. The Bishop
administered the rite of confirmation to eight persons in 1869. Another aspect
of growth occurred in 1869 when a seminarian (who was attending Berkeley
Divinity School) by the name of John H. Watson began morning services. A church
school was inaugurated at that time. Mr. Watson later became Rector of the
Church of Good Shepherd.
In October of 1869 a committee was formed to organize and incorporate a parish in Wethersfield. The first officers were: F.T. Chapman, Warden Austin
Robertson, Clerk Stephen Buckeley, Treasurer Samuel W. Goodrich, Horace
Robbins and Albert E. Warner, vestrymen.
The land (owned by Silas W. Robbins) was purchased. This is the land where the Church now stands.
The Parish was received into the Diocese of Connecticut on June 15, 1870. Prior to this the first persons baptized were Mary Francis Warner and Albert Emmett Warner on May 23, 1869. The first confirmation class was held on May 23, 1869. The first marriage was held on July 1, 1868. The groom was Arthur Edward Baker and the bride was Frances Ann Coleman. The first burial was that of an infant, John B. Church, on October 15, 1869.
The church building in which we continue to worship today was begun in 1871. The
architect was E.T. Potter of New York (acclaimed locally as the architect of
the Mark Twain House in Hartford.) The Church was occupied for the first time on Easter 1874, and the Church was consecrated on October 1, 1874. In 1955 the present parish house was constructed. The church was enlarged in 1963, and a new office wing was also added as a part of that project.
For a more complete reading of the history of Trinity Parish it is suggested you read “The History of Trinity Parish (Episcopal)”, Wethersfield, Connecticut, 1871-1971 as compiled by Elizabeth Hanmer MacCutcheon, dated 1972.
This history lists all the various rectors and terms of office. For some of us the history we recall commences with Rev. Percy Felix Rex, who served the parish from 1932 to 1937. Evidently the Bishop must have thought Trinity Parish was dying on its feet as reported to the annual meeting by Mr. Alfred W. Hanmer, then Senior Warden, in 1932. Rev. Rex was a leader who led the Parish back from the brink by anticipating future growth and expanding of the Church.
Following Rev. Rex’s resignation, The Rev. William G. Wright assumed the position of Rector.
The next Rector was Rev. A. Palmore Harrison who commenced his rector ship at
Trinity Parish on January 1, 1941 and served the Parish until January 30, 1947.
His tenure coincided with World War II. Another event that occurred during his
tenure was the “Great Barnum & Bailey Circus Fire” in Hartford. As many of our parishioners were involved in this conflagration, Rev. Harrison called or visited each of the Parish families to determine their needs. Another near disaster happened in 1943 when the Hart Seed Company located next door caught fire, and the spread of the flames severely damaged the old Parish Hall.
Following Rev. Harrison’s departure, The Rev. Maxwell B. Courage became Rector from 1947 to 1949.
The next Rector was The Rev. John Hall Findlay who served the Parish for
twenty-five years, from 1951 until his retirement in 1974. He was affectionately called “Father John.”
During his tenure many changes were made: the Parish House Building Committee was reorganized in 1953, an architect was hired, the property lines with the Hart Seed Company were defined so encroachment would not occur and the old Parish Hall was demolished. The cornerstone was laid for a new parish hall in 1954. This stone holds a Cross, a Bible, Prayer Book, History of the Parish, list of Donors and a list of all the families in the Parish. Church School was held at the American Legion Hall during the construction period. Horace B. Francis was General Chairman.
The Parish House was dedicated on Easter Day, April 10, 1955 by the Rt. Rev. Walter H. Gray. Rev. Findlay then led the Church in acquiring the Pelletieri Property on the south side of the Church. This house originally was the rectory of the Rev. James Lockwood, a minister of the Gospel in the First Society. It was constructed in 1767. At that time the British flag waved over our town and it remains as the only house in Wethersfield occupied by a colonial minister.
Immediately behind the Lockwood House is a small house called the Dowling Property. Thiswas thought to be a house built to house slaves owned by Captain Justin Reilly,who purchased the house following the death of Rev. Lockwood. At one time thehouse was also occupied by Marshall Harris’s family, whose descendants are WarrenJ. Blessing, Sr., his wife Dorothy Harris Blessing, and their son Warren J.Blessing, Jr.
As Trinity Parish was expanding rapidly it was necessary to obtain assistance for the Rector. In May of 1960, The Rev. Frederick P. Lefebvre was appointed as the first Curate. On his resignation in 1963, The Rev. John A. Rogers was appointed Curate. When he resigned in 1966, he became Vicar at Christ Church, Quaker Farms, Connecticut. He was succeeded by The Rev. William Sorrells who served until 1968. The Rev. Donald H. Parker served as Curate from 1968 to 1970.
At a special meeting of the Parish in 1961 it was voted to expand the Church.Ground was broken on St. Mark’s Day, April 25, 1963. The sanctuary was extendedeastward and offices were added. The first wedding held in the newlyrefurbished church was that of Torrey Watson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer S.Watson, and Paul Wise. It was held on November 9, 1963.
The100th Anniversary of Trinity Parish was celebrated on October 19, 1969.
In 1970 the Vestry voted to appoint The Rev. John A. Rogers, Jr., Vicar at Christ Church, Quaker Farms, Connecticut as Assistant to the Rector. In 1971, The Rev. John Hall Findlay celebrated his 20 th year as Rector at Trinity Parish. At that time the Parish had some 1,000 members. On Father John’s retirement in 1975, The Rev. John A. Rogers was called as Rector. He retired in 2001. He, also was affectionately called “Father John.”
During the tenure of Rev. Rogers a number of changes occurred: the Rectory on Hartford Avenue was sold, two women were nominated to be lay-readers and administer the chalice, the mortgage was burned and the Parish was now free of debt and Dowling House was purchased, completing the property lines as they are known today. During the 1990’s the Parish pledged and gave Camp Washington $10,000. 00, the nave floor was reinforced, new windows were installed in the Parish House, the Seabury Room was created and decorated, the Haitian outreach program was started, and a large bequest of $287,000.00 was given the church by Susan McCann.
Of special interest to the Rev. Rogers and the parish was the relocation of the altar and the renovation of the nave. The altar prior to this change was located against the east wall of the apse. The change made at this time made it possible for the celebrant to face the congregation during the service. This work was done in 1988. The financial support for this project was made by the Montgomery family in memory of John Montgomery, former Warden of the Trinity Parish.
Prior to 1979 three new liturgies were introduced. These were called the “zebra books”, and finally led to what is now the familiar 1979 Book of Common Prayer as ratified by the 1978 convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
Fr. Rogers will be remembered for conducting memorable services particularly at Easter and Christmas.
The Rev. Joanne Neel-Richard was named Interim Priest on August of 2001.
Subsequently she was named Priest-In-Charge. She served in that role until August of 2006.
The Reverend Scott Lee was called as rector and took office September 1, 2006.
Stiles – “Ancient History of Wethersfield”
The Hartford Courant and the Hartford Times
Town of Wethersfield Records
The information as submitted above was excerpted from the MacCutheon history of Trinity Parish by Richard G. Rouse and submitted here as a digest of that history. Additional notes were added starting with the ministry of the Rev. John A. Rogers and the Rev. Joanne Neel-Richard.
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1853 - Rev. Mathias Hannon, mission priest, travels by horseback to Webster County.
1855 - Fr. William Edmonds comes to Fort Dodge. He purchases lots and organizes a congregation to be Corpus Christi.
1856 - Bishop Matthias Loras sends Fr. John William Vahey to Fort Dodge as first resident pastor for all of northwest Iowa. The original parish ranges from Fort Dodge to Sioux City, extending to the northern borders of Iowa.
1859 - Fr. John Marsh donates $1,100 for construction of the first Catholic School in Fort Dodge.
1871 - Construction of St. Patrick on the Lizard Church.
1878 - First Mass celebrated at Coalville.
1883 - New Corpus Christi Church dedicated in Fort Dodge.
1886 - St. Matthew Parish established in Clare.
1890 - St. Matthew Catholic Church - Clare - First structure is dedicated.
1890 - St. John Catholic Church - Vincent - Becomes Mission of St. Joseph - Duncombe.
1891 - First Pastor appointed for St. Joseph Catholic Church - Barnum.
1892 - Our Lady of Good Counsel established in Moorland - becomes a mission to Barnum.
1894 - First church dedicated at Moorland - Our Lady of Good Counsel.
1895 - First St. John Catholic Church - Vincent - Built.
1897 - Sacred Heart Catholic Church Established in Fort Dodge.
1897 - St. Joseph Catholic Church - Barnum - Church building dedicated.
1900 - Church construction completed for Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Coalville.
1902 - St. Joseph Catholic Church - Duncombe - Organized as a parish.
1905 - New St. Matthew’s Catholic Church - Clare - Dedicated.
1905 - New church construction begins for St. John Catholic Church - Vincent.
1910 - New St. Joseph Catholic Church - Duncombe - Dedicated.
1915 - Work begins on new Sacred Heart Church - Fort Dodge - basement is used for Mass.
1918 - Cornerstone laid for new Our Lady of Good Counsel Church - Moorland.
1922 - New Sacred Heart Church - Fort Dodge - Dedicated.
1930 - New St. Patrick on the Lizard Catholic Church Dedicated.
1946 - Holy Rosary Catholic Church established - Fort Dodge.
1954 - Christ the King Catholic Church established - Dayton. 25 families celebrate Mass in local movie theater.
1956 - New Church for Christ the King Catholic Church - Dayton.
1959 - First Mass in new Immaculate Conception Catholic Church - Lehigh.
1963 - New St. Joseph Catholic Church - Barnum - Dedicated.
1973 - Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Coalville - Closes.
1984 - Last Mass at St. Patrick on the Lizard Catholic Church.
1994 - St. John Catholic Church - Vincent - Closes.
2000 - Start of Catholic Team Parishes of Webster County.
2006 - 150 years of faith in Webster County.
2006 - Bishop Nickless decrees that the Parish of the Holy Trinity be established. Holy Trinity Parish is now the official name of our parish in Webster County while maintaining the existing names of each church worship site.
2008 - Long Range Collaborative Planning with St. Edmond Catholic School System. Parish reduced from 4 to 3 priests. Closure of Barnum, Duncombe and Holy Rosary. Long range planning process led to one site vision.
2009 - Cost analysis completed on single site and existing site options, for construction/renovation and ongoing cost. Single site proposal developed by BVH architects on space needs and potential site options. Major space needs include classroom space, hall/meeting space, sanctuary, narthex (informal greeting/entrance space/cry room, chapel).
2012 - Creation of Campus Concept with purchase of Phillips Middle School property.
2013-14 - Long Range Pastoral Planning, United By Faith, completed with input sessions and parish convocation. Single site concept again at top of priorities.
2015 - Single Site Implementation/Design Team Developed. Engage BVH Architects to reaffirm space concepts and create single worship site plan on the St. Edmond Campus.
2016 - Diocese of Sioux City's Ministry 2025 is implemented a year early and Holy Trinity Parish is reduced to two priests and that the worship sites of Christ the King, Dayton, St. Matthew, Clare and Our Lady of Good Counsel be moved to non-active worship site status.
Trinity Parish Church - History
"Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 28:19
Inscription on the Portal of the Church of the Holy Trinity
More than 100 years ago, The Church of the Holy Trinity was established through the confluence of three events—Serena Rhinelander’s desire to create a memorial to her father and grandfather, the merger of the original Church of the Holy Trinity with St. James Church and the needs of St. James Mission on East 83rd Street.
Serena Rhinelander’s grandfather, William Rhinelander (one of the wealthiest men in New York) in 1798 purchased 72 acres stretching from Third Avenue to the East River for a summer home. The northward growth of the city led to the Rhinelanders’ selling much of that land. However, Serena Rhinelander wanted as a memorial to her father and grandfather to donate not only the midblock site on the south side of 88th Street between Second and First Avenues, but also the cost of designing and constructing a church complex.
Serena Rhinelander wanted to make this donation to St. James Church at 71st Street and Madison Avenue and have St. James become the sponsor of the new complex in what had become a working-class neighborhood. However, St. James Church could not accept her offer because they did not have the money to maintain the church.
The maintenance money came from the original Church of the Holy Trinity (see photo). The church, located on the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and 42nd Street, wished to move from the business district and decided to sell its property and unite with St. James Church.
The Diocese of New York arranged to transfer Holy Trinity’s assets from the sale of the property to St. James. This, in turn, enabled St. James to retire its own debt and to assume sponsorship for Serena Rhinelander’s memorial by establishing a $200,000 endowment fund. The Diocese also transferred the name of the church to the proposed new complex. Thus the generosity of Serena Rhinelander and the endowment from St. James enabled an institution the neighborhood could not have afforded.
At the same time, St. James also had a mission at 419 East 83rd Street that had outgrown its space. This mission was moved in 1897 to the first building completed on the site, St. Christopher's House, and administered by the mission's trustees.
St. Christopher's House was a clubhouse and kindergarten for all the children of the neighborhood no matter what their individual faith or if they had no faith at all. In the basement was a swimming pool which could be used for a nominal fee and on the top floor a well-equipped gymnasium. There were a circulating library, assembly rooms, playrooms and public showers.
On April 28, 1897 the new congregation began to worship in the assembly room of St. Christopher's House.
Construction of the new Church of the Holy Trinity began the following November with the laying of the cornerstone for the church. The New York Times described the ceremony:
". white vestments of the clergymen and the representatives of the highest social and intellectual circles on the one side showed in vivid contrast to the row of tenements across the street, from every window and door of which gazed a curious throng of people, for whose use the edifice was being dedicated."
On May 6, 1899 the Church of the Holy Trinity was consecrated. The following are excerpts from the sermon by Rev. Dr. William R. Huntington of Grace Church:
"It may shock some to hear it, but consecration is not the mere act of the Bishop it is a process that requires time to develop, and only years of use can properly consecrate a building like this…A church should not only be pleasing to the eye, but should be adapted to all the uses of a church. I can define them in three words—instruction, devotion and mercy. The pulpit, the altar and works of mercy form a part of the proper work of the church, and this group of buildings is fitted for all. "
Holy Trinity was built to be a "settlement church" which aimed to "cultivate the best in man, physical, mental, social and spiritual . not content to preach only to the soul . but with its clubs and societies seeks to help and elevate the social conditions amongst its members and the neighborhood in which it stands."
From 1897 to 1919 James V. Chalmers was the Vicar of Holy Trinity, and the early parish newsletters, The Chimes, describe a large and active Christian community. At that time the programs included a coal cooperative, day nursery for children of working parents, sewing clubs, and Christian education including a Sunday School of over 1,000 children. There were also excursions, lectures, and amateur theatricals. Holy Trinity remained a chapel of St. James until 1951, when, under the leadership of Rev. James Paul, it became an independent parish.
In 1897 the intention of the "settlement church" was to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of the growing immigrant community surrounding it. Although we no longer call Holy Trinity a "settlement church", its mission has not changed. It is still a landmark of architectural and social significance with its strong ministry to the people of Yorkville and East Harlem.
In 1887, Reverend Killian Flasch, Bishop of La Crosse acknowledged the need for a new parish on the south side of La Crosse and appointed a committee to determine a site for the new church and oversee the project. The first structure, Saint Nicholas, was dedicated on Sunday, October 30, 1887. The first Solemn High Mass was sung at Saint Nicholas Church on November 8, 1887.
In response to a growing congregation, the church members decided on January 1, 1894 to begin making plans for a new church building, which was constructed and dedicated on December 4, 1894 to the Most Holy Trinity. The original building was converted into classrooms for the school operated by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The Sisters later built a convent on South Park and 15th Streets to better accommodate the school operation.
In 1915, Holy Trinity High School was founded as the first Catholic high school in La Crosse. In 1928, Holy Trinity High School graduated its last class of thirty four students and Aquinas High School opened in September of that year.
In 1929, the Holy Trinity Bowling Association was formed and the original nine pin bowling alley in Leo Hall was replaced with two new ten pin alleys. Pins were originally set by hand, but mechanical pinsetters were installed in 1937. The alleys were used regularly until they were removed from Leo Hall in the 1980s. Leo Hall continued to function as a multi-purpose space for social events and receptions throughout the 1980s and early 2000s.
The congregation and school’s student body continued to expand, leading to modifications of the school and church buildings between 1940 and 1952. Further remodeling, updated electric lighting, and repainting in the church building continued throughout the 1970s.
In 1987, the Holy Trinity Catholic Congregation celebrated one hundred years of serving the south side of La Crosse.