Our ParishHistory › From Church to Cathedral

    From Church to Cathedral
1957 ~ 2007
Celebrating 50 Years as a Cathedral
"We establish the seat of the new diocese in the Village of Rockville Centre and accordingly we raise this village to the dignity of an episcopal city; we fix the Chair of the Bishop in the parochial church dedicated to Saint Agnes, situated in the same village, which we therefore raise to the rank and dignity of a Cathedral Church."

The words above were taken from the decree by Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Titular Archbishop of Laodicea in Phrygia and Apostolic Delegate of Pope Pius XII to the United States announcing the creation of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, May 25, 1957.

The year 2007 is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and to the parishioners of St. Agnes it marks 50 years of our parish church serving as a cathedral.  1957 represented the fulfillment of a dream of Msgr. Peter Quealy, who served as pastor of St. Agnes and later as Cathedral administrator from 1905 until 1959 .  By 1933, the marble church that had served the parish of St. Agnes since 1905 was no longer adequate to serve the rapidly growing Catholic population.  

  Msgr. Quealy envisioned a grand and majestic building to take the place of the marble church completed shortly before his arrival at St. Agnes in 1905.  He had always  felt that one day a new diocese would be formed on Long Island which would require a cathedral. In his mind St. Agnes would  be that cathedral. 

Msgr. Quealy lived long enough to see his dream come true. On Sunday afternoon, May 26, 1957 a ten car motorcade escorted by two New York City motorcycle police began at the home of Bishop Kellenberg's mother on Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx. They made their way through the Bronx and across Queens to the Nassau County Border. Here the Bishop's entourage was met by various civic and community leaders including Nassau County Executive A. Holly Paterson and continued on to Rockville Centre with a Nassau police escort.  Along the way the Bishop stopped at the parishes of Blessed Sacrament and Holy Name of Mary in Valley Stream, Our Lady of Peace in Lynbrook and St. Raymond in East Rockaway.  Finally reaching Rockville Centre, Bishop Kellenberg was met by Msgr. Joseph Smith, marshal of the parade and chairman of the arrangements committee. Bishop Kellenberg and Msgr. Smith sitting in an open car were escorted from Maine Avenue and Peninsula Boulevard to Quealy Place.  

The afternoon of May 26th would see the beginning St. Agnes' dual role as  parish church and seat of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. 

The links below will take you to pictures that record the events of May 26th and May 27th, 1957.

  Sunday, May 25, 1957  
  Church Hierarchy Canonical Possession  
  Cathedral Visit Reviewing Stand  
  Monday, May 26, 1957  

- "From a Blacksmith Shop To A Majestic Gothic Edifice", 1935
- Leonard, CSJ, Sr. Joan de Lourdes, "Richly Blessed, The Diocese of Rockville Centre 1957-1990", (Walsworth Publishing, 1991)
- O'Neill, James "To Believe In A Vision"  (Delmar, 1983)
- "Rededication Journal", 1982


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Parish of Saint Agnes Cathedral
29 Quealy Place
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
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