Our ParishHistory › Part 2 ~ 1917 to 1951


1917 Father Quealy acquired more property and graced it with an ornate parochial school, English Gothic in style, containing a spacious auditorium. His next step was the erection of a suitable rectory between the church and school.  The old rectory was moved to the south side of College Place to serve as a convent for the Dominican Sisters who were selected as teachers.  Five Dominican Sisters move into the convent and begin teaching in the newly built school.  The school opened with an enrollment of ninety students with Mother Petra, O.P. as principal.  The registration of pupils increased so rapidly that a proportionate increase of teachers was demanded.  To provide adequate living accommodations for them the Campbell property on the west side of the school was purchased and in 1920 the convent was moved and annexed to the Campbell house. 
1921 The Heilman property on the south side of College Place along Clinton Avenue to Front Street was purchased for the sum of $20,000 with a view to building a high school to supply the needs of the neighboring parishes. (This property later becomes the present day parking lot across Quealy Place in front of the cathedral.) 

A two story high school for girls (the middle section of what will be later known as the Msgr. Williams Building) is completed at the rear of the elementary school.  The High School Department of the parochial school is chartered by the University of the State of New York and moves into the commodious building.

Bishop Molloy sends the first curate to St. Agnes in the person of Father Joseph Egan who faithfully assists Father Quealy for four years.  Following his elevation to Domestic Prelate, Monsignor Quealy, begins plans for a new convent that would harmonize with the other parish buildings.

The Convent is completed and by Christmas the Sisters move into their beautiful new home.  The new convent with its devotional and richly artistic chapel is Gothic in design. (As part of the major parish property renovation announced in 2000 the first two floors of the convent are converted to office space for various parish ministries and organizations.  The third floor is eventual converted into the Diocesan Bishop's residence. The Sisters serving the parish, no longer in need of a convent, have acquired residences elsewhere that better suit their needs.)  

After the convent is completed, Msgr. Quealy turns his attention to the inadequacy of the marble church to accommodate the increased Catholic population. The school was in no small measure responsible for this marvelous increase.  The white marble church, partly concealed be graceful maples, had to make way for a more spacious and majestic edifice.  On October 23, after the last Mass had been offered for the deceased parishioners, the demolition was begun.  A new Church, to be built in a fifteenth century Norman Gothic style and designed by architect Gustave E. Steinbeck, will soon rise.

The new Saint Agnes Church is completed by Contractor Dominick Milone of Dominick Milone, Inc., of Rockville Centre. Dominick's eldest son, Salvatore, was awarded the assignment to supervise the building of the new Church by Msgr. Quealy.  Salvatore, who had been baptized by Msgr. Quealy and was an alumnus of St. Agnes School, later became the first parishioner to be married in the new Church.  Bishop Thomas E. Molloy, Bishop of Brooklyn, dedicates the Church which will one day become a Cathedral.

Msgr. Quealy continues the expansion of the parish buildings by having a third story added to the high school building to handle the expanding enrollment.

Father Frank Williams is assigned as curate to St. Agnes, a parish of 1,500 families.  Fr. Williams will eventually go on to succeed Msgr. Quealy as cathedral administrator of St. Agnes.

The high school building is extended east and west, more classrooms are added and a gym and lower hall built. (The 2000 parish property renovation plans call for the eventual demolition of the high school building behind the gym to make way for a new Parish Activity Center.)

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- "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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