History

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On December 8, 1896 the first Mass was celebrated in St. Catharine’s Church. The church was designated as a mission of St. Gabriel’s Church in New Rochelle and served the Town of Pelham. A year later St. Catharine’s became and independent parish and Rev. Francis McNichol served as the first pastor. The first Rectory was built in 1899 and the parish school was established in 1907. In 1921 when the parish celebrated its Silver Jubilee five parish buildings had been built since its founding.

In 1939 the new school was completed and opened with an enrollment of 275 students. As the number of Catholics began to grow it was obvious that a new parish had to be established to accommodate parishioners. Mr. William T Grant who owned the chain of five and ten cent stores deed six acres of property in Pelham Manor including a large manor house and two smaller home to St. Catharine’s to serve as a mission to the parish. By the end of the year the remaining property of the Grant estate, which included the parking area near the present school and two additional houses was deeded to St. Catharine’s. For the next fifteen years this small chapel served the needs of the Catholics of Pelham Manor.

In 1941 the new altar and sanctuary at St Catharine’s was dedicated and Msgr, McNichols died after having been pastor at St. Catharine’s for 47 years. In 1949 the school building at St. Catharine’s was expanded by adding a second floor to accommodate eight more classrooms.

On July 6,1954 Cardinal Fancis Spellman approved the erection of a new parish in the village of Pelham Manor under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Msgr. Robert McCormick was appointed the first pastor and the mission’s property was transferred to the new parish and the priests moved into the Manor house.

Mr and Mrs Abdala Barsa donated the half block on Fowler Ave facing Boston Post Rd in 1955 and this property eventually became a much needed parking area. The Dawson home on Fowler Ave was purchases in 1956 and it would become the first convent housing the Franciscan Sisters who taught in the parish school. The school opened in 1958 with grades 1 through 4.

In 1975 a fire caused extensive damage to the interior of St. Catharine’s church including the organ. Three years later a new organ was dedicated with a special concert.

The liturgical reforms dictated by the Second Vatican Council would play a major role in designing the new Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Construction started in 1966 and the cornerstone was placed the following year. On September 7, 1967 the first Mass was celebrated in the new church and the church was dedicated in 1968. In 1978 a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated in honor of the 25th anniversary of the parish.

At the end of the school year in 1962 St. Catharine’s School closed bringing to an end 75 years of Catholic education in the parish. The school building would later be converted to a Parish Center to provide space for Religious Education classes, parish activities and groups to meet.

In 1991 Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish raised $724,000 as part of an archdiocesan capital fund appeal. As part of this effort the landscape of the property was modified to include parking for the elderly and handicapped. Much needed renovations and repairs were also done.

In 2014 after an extensive process Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced plans to merge the two Pelham parishes into one new parish with Our Lady of Perpetual Help being designated as the Parish Church and St. Catharine’s as a worship site.

This plan became finalized in 2015 and the newly established parish known as Our Lady of Perpetual Help-St. Catharine was established.