Opening of Mater Christi Homily
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Mater Christi Parish officially opened its doors on October 4, 2009. Our parish was formed by the merger of St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena parishes. Our name, “Mater Christi,” honors our Blessed Mother, someone who lived a pilgrimage of faith. As a new faith community, we look forward to creating new traditions and, continuing to bring the Gospel message to the world.
St. Teresa of Avila
Bishop Edmund Gibbons founded St. Teresa of Avila Parish in April of 1920. He appointed Reverend James E. Kelly as pastor of this parish, which consisted of forty-five families. The first home of St. Teresa of Avila Parish was the Albany City Almshouse, later known as the home of CBA and now Albany Law. The first parish Mass was held on Sunday, June 6, 1920. Four months later, a new church was completed at Erie Street and New Scotland Avenue. The original rectory was a farmhouse on the grounds of the present church. In the summer of 1926, a second rectory was built at the corner of Sycamore Street and New Scotland Avenue. Three classrooms were set up in the original rectory to instruct students up to the fourth grade by the Sisters of Mercy. By 1935, there were 800 families enrolled in St. Teresa of Avila Parish. This growth in population gave impetus to the consideration of the construction of another building on the corner of Maplewood Street and New Scotland Avenue. The new St. Teresa of Avila Church was dedicated on March 7, 1937. Three years later, a new rectory was built.
In 1953 under Monsignor John G. Hart, the population of St. Teresa’s had reached 1,200 families and the enrollment of the school increased as well. This prompted the construction of an additional building on Hollywood Avenue, which consisted of a combined junior high school and social center in 1956.
A mere nine years later (1965), the parish built a convent for the Sisters of Mercy at 401 New Scotland Avenue under the supervision and direction of Monsignor James G. Hart. The parish continued to grow, reaching 1,500 families registered in 1970, the parish’s golden jubilee of its institution in the Albany Diocese.
With the purchase of 1 West Erie Street (Mary T. Graziano Educational Center), St. Teresa’s offered additional religious education programs and subsequently, the building served as an outreach center.
St. Catherine of Siena
The parish of Saint Catherine of Siena was formed in February 1953 when the Most Reverend Edmund F. Gibbons, Bishop of Albany, directed the Reverend Lawrence P. Kelly to "Build your church here, Father." Father Kelly, Saint Catherine's first pastor, acted quickly to locate a temporary chapel for the five hundred families of the newly created Parish. Masses were celebrated on March 4, 1953 at the Dominican Monastery on New Scotland Avenue, now a part of Maria College of Albany. A separate home at 711 New Scotland Avenue, midway between the Monastery and the proposed church site, was purchased on March 4 to serve as the rectory.
Construction of the proposed parish buildings (a school and church/auditorium) was financed by a two-stage house-to-house canvas. The quote of $225,000 was surpassed by $26,000 and building contracts were then awarded to four major contractors. Excavation began on September 1, 1953.
The cornerstone was set on November 22 by Bishop Gibbons. The formal dedication of the new church and school took place on October 24, 1954. Assisted by the Reverend Joseph P. Kelly, the Reverend Raymond F. Rooney, Chancellor, and many of the clergy of the Diocese, the Most Reverend William A. Scully, Coadjutor Bishop of Albany, blessed the church and school. On this occasion sixty-two children and six adults received the Sacrament of Confirmation. On the following Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, the first High Mass was celebrated for parishioners who had died since the founding of the parish.
As the years went on, the parish flourished. The Parish Rectory (40 Collins Place) as well as, the Parish Center (40 Hopewell Street) were both constructed in 1962. A new church was erected in 1998. At the time of closure in 2009 (merger with St. Teresa’s) St. Catherine’s Parish grew to well over 1200 registered families.