PHOTOS BY CARL BALLENAS
from left to right:
Gargiulo (garden designer)
Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello
Elect Roy Lancman
of SBJL Msgr. John O'Brien
Sellers (SBJL School 8th Grade Student)
of the Richmond Hill Historical Society Nancy Cataldi
Rev. Thomas R. Gilbert
By Dennis Doyle
For the benefit of those who could not make the SBJL Historical Plaque
Unveiling Event in Richmond Hill on Sunday, November 5th, 2006, these
are some of the highlights of that historic event:
The turnout by all accounts was quite impressive. The attendees consisted
of SBLJ students, parents, faculty, SBJL alumni, guest clergy, local
politicians, members of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, friends
The event started promptly at 2:30 PM with a Powerpoint slideshow presentation
and lecture by Carl Ballenas,
local historian, and a Board Member of the Richmond Hill Historical
Carl Ballenas' slideshow, which was held inside the historic SBJL Church,
was a most thorough and detailed history of St. Benedict Joseph Labre
Church, from its founding to its present day.
Ballenas' intriguing slides gave us a rare glimpse into the past, such
as when the SBJL Church began as a humble wooden structure that had
a very tall and impressive steeple with a cross on top. Carl pointed
out with other early photos of the Richmond Hill area, that the SBJL
Church could be seen for miles because it was one of the tallest structures
at that time (1890's) in this part of Queens which was then known as
Morris Park before it was incorporated into Richmond Hill.
Carl's slideshow continued with many photos of the pastors with personal
details, who helped in the developing of SBJL, the building of the school,
and the first graduating class from the St. Benedict Joseph Labre School
Remarkably, Carl had located and interviewed one of the students of
this first class a few years back, who was in her 80's at the time,
and she remembered all of her fellow students names and recalled how
all the girls were required to make their own graduating dresses if
they wanted to graduate.
Carl also showed photos of the first Rectory, the new Rectory, the
expansion of the School from two floors to three floors, all with great
caring detail. When Carl had completed his extensive slideshow, a proclamation
was read, issued from the office of the Queensboro President, declaring
that Novemeber 5th is St. Benedict Joseph Labre Day, due to the recognition
of the Church's 100 years of serving the Richmond Hill community and
the reading, several local dignataries spoke eloquently on the honor
that was bestowed upon SBJL, and all attendees in the Church applauded
the praises. A deep sense of pride and joy was felt and shared by all.
Then all the attendees proceeded to go outside to the Church's beautiful
Shrine Garden adjacent to the Church, where the Historical Plaque was
ceremoniously unveiled documenting the recognition of St. Benedict Joseph
Labre's historical significance in Richmond Hill and beyond.
The text on the plaque gives a brief history of this historic parish
and was written with the help of students and teachers from Saint Benedict
Joseph Labre School. This has truly been a unique way for our young
students to be personally involved with their local history and this
event has afforded them a rare opportunity to leave a permanent mark
on the community.
After the ceremony all attendees were invited and welcomed to take
a tour of the School and Church, and to add to the festivities, wine
and cheese were being served in the Rectory.
HISTORY OF ST. BENEDICT JOSEPH LABRE
The Parish of Saint Benedict Joseph Labre was established in the year
1892 in what was once called the Village of Morris Park which today
is now part of Richmond Hill. For over 100 years this parish was the
only church in the world under the patronage of this humble saint. The
parish of Saint Benedict Joseph Labre was the first Catholic Church
in the Village of Richmond Hill and today four parishes have been established
within its old boundaries. The history of the parish is unique and deeply
rooted in the early foundation of Richmond Hill.
Location: Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Church 94-40 118th St. Richmond
Hill, NY 11419
>> Read more on the
history of the St. Benedict Joseph Labre Parish.