ABOUT THE CHURCH - OUR PARISH
The Parish of St. Paul the Apostle church began years before the present church was built. It was founded at the same time the Paulist Fathers started in 1858. New York was a rapidly growing city of immigrants arriving by the hundreds every day from Europe. The need for parish priests was urgent, and the Archbishop of New York, John Hughes, formed St. Paul the Apostle parish and assigned it to the Paulists. Fr. Isaac Hecker served as the first pastor of the parish. At that time, the parish extended from 52nd Street to 110th Street; and from the Hudson River to 6th Avenue.
The Paulists resided in a small rented house, located at Broadway & 60 th Street, until 1860 when a larger residence was built. This building also contained the parish church. The parish outgrew its church within the first year, and a new one was built. This church served the parish until the present church was completed in 1885.
Even in its early days, St. Paul’s was a progressive, exciting parish. The Paulists were known for their superb liturgy, with particular attention paid to the preaching and music. An excellent boy’s choir was formed, and congregational participation was encouraged. Along with good liturgy, the Paulists also believed in education. In 1886, they established an elementary school in the parish, and then a high school in 1922.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, the construction of the New York Coliseum, Lincoln Center, and Fordham University made it necessary for blocks of tenement housing to be knocked down. Entire neighborhoods disappeared and much of the parish community was forced to move out of the area. The parish and its school struggled to survive, and the school finally closed in 1974.
The parish withstood this change, as it has weathered others over the years. Today, St. Paul’s is once again a vibrant, and growing parish. New high-rise buildings in the neighborhood add to the growing community. St. Paul’s completed the building of its new Parish Center in 2000, a 19,000 square foot building that is three stories tall and contains offices, classrooms, and meeting spaces. It will help our growing parish face a future filled with challenges and changes.