History of
Valley Stream, N.Y.

Click any blue underlined item, to view that portion of the history.


In May 1950 Bishop Molloy wrote this message.
“Dear Monsignor McGovern:
It is a source of genuine gratification to announce to you that our Holy Father has graciously deigned to confer upon you the dignity of Domestic Prelate, with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor, and I am pleased to present at this time the Papal Brief of official designation.”
The Bishop invested him on Sunday, July 2, 1950.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950.

On June 13, 1952, at the old Garden City Hotel, more than eight hundred parishioners and friends attended the Fiftieth Anniversary celebration of Holy Name of Mary Parish. Monsignor McGovern, Fathers Schoenenberger and Kelly joined in the celebration.

Reverend James M. Cavanagh was appointed an assistant to the Pastor on June 28, 1952. It was his first assignment after being ordained.

Reverend James M. Cavanagh


On September 18, 1952, only a few months after the Fiftieth Anniversary celebration, Monsignor Peter P. McGovern was called to his eternal reward. It was within a week of his eighty-third birthday and fifty years and four months after his first Mass at Holy Name of Mary Parish. Parishioners and friends viewed the earthly remains of our beloved Pastor in the old rectory, prior to their transferal to the church on Sunday evening, September 20. On the following morning, Bishop Thomas E. Molloy officiated at a Solemn Mass of Requiem. Burial took place in Mount St. Mary's Cemetery in Flushing on September 22, 1952. After more than fifty years of leadership and guidance, a great leader and holy priest had passed from the scene.

In 1944 at Monsignor McGovern's Golden Jubilee as a priest, his friends had written:

“Forty-two years ago, Father McGovern came to us here in Valley Stream. He came to live not only among us but for us. No matter what our religion or race, he was our friend. ... a true priest ... a member of each family, yet belonging to none ... teaching, forgiving, consoling, blessing!”

Artist Paul Wood was commissioned to paint a portrait of Monsignor McGovern. The painting today hangs in the school foyer.


Bishop Thomas Molloy announced a replacement for Monsignor McGovern. The appointment was to become effective on November 12, 1952.

Reverend Joseph P. Butler

Reverend Joseph P. Butler was assigned to become the second Pastor of Holy Name of Mary Parish. He had founded Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Point Lookout on July 25, 1937. Father Butler had served there as Pastor for more than fifteen years. He was born August 26, 1895. He was ordained May 21, 1921. Father Butler was a dynamic and dedicated priest, who was to undertake a major rebuilding program for the parish. Reverend Edward J. Byrne accompanied Father Butler as an assistant.

Reverend Edward J. Byrne


Father Schoenenberger relinquished the duties of Administrator to Father Butler, and was reassigned.

The task ahead for Father Butler was to be one of mammoth proportions — to replace the existing wooden frame church, rectory and convent. The church and rectory were approximately fifty years old and had been outgrown by the parish. Also in the plans was an expansion of the school. Father Butler originated a building and fund raising program, which was decisive, innovative and controversial. Some parishioners were alienated. Father Butler was not deterred.

In February 1953 the monthly Church Bulletin was expanded and appeared as the Parishioner.

With the establishment of the parishes of Our Lady of Peace in Lynbrook, St. Joseph's in Hewlett, St. Clare's in Rosedale and Blessed Sacrament in north Valley Stream, the boundary lines of Holy Name of Mary Parish were gradually narrowed to the present perimeter.

The Diocesan Boundary Commission set the boundaries as of June 28, 1951. They were confirmed and published by the rectory in September 1953. There was a parish census. The parish was no longer to be referred to as St. Mary's. A weekly envelope collection system was instituted in November 1953. It permitted an accurate record of contributions and is in use to this day.


On July 27, 1953, the Korean War ended. There were approximately thirty-three thousand American battle casualties. Among those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country from our parish was:

  • Thomas Shields

On September 30, 1953, Reverend Thomas F. B. Carroll was assigned as an assistant. He had been an exceptional basketball player during his seminary days and was popular with the young people.

Reverend Thomas F. Carroll

Fathers Kelly and Cavanagh were reassigned on September 25, 1954.

Reverend John J. Preston was assigned as an assistant on September 29, 1954. He was reassigned in June 1955.

In January 1954 parish “Get Acquainted” dances were instituted. They were jointly sponsored by the Holy Name Society and Rosary Society.


The dances became an annual affair, first being held in the school auditorium, and then at Carl Hoppl's Valley Stream Park Inn. The Valley Stream Park Inn was located on the south side of Merrick Road, a few blocks east of Central Avenue between Payan Avenue and Hicks Street. Later the dances were moved to the Plattdeutsche Park Restaurant in Franklin Square.

Father Butler had completed the groundwork for his main mission — to replace an overcrowded fifty-year-old building complex. He assumed the role of planner and builder of a new church.

To finance the project, he inaugurated a program of monthly Church Building Fund collections in March 1954. He personally directed the fund to avoid fund raising costs. Most parishioners donated five dollars a month. The name of the donor and their donation were published in the Parishioner.

Architect's Drawing, 1954

The plans for the new church were ready in August 1954. The architects, Beatty and Berlenbach, were particularly interested in the building since Mr. Berlenbach's father had been the architect of our first church and Mr. Beatty's father, the builder.


A groundbreaking ceremony for the new church was held on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 1, 1956. The cornerstone was laid the following Easter Sunday, April 21, 1957.

On November 26, 1956, Bishop Thomas E. Molloy died.

Our new church was to be an L in shape, and built on the north and east side of the old rectory. The smaller section of the L would surround the original church, and replace the wooden walls with a brick structure. Father Butler retained the original church out of consideration for the parishioners for whom it held so many memories. Pews from the church, built in 1904, were retained and still remain in good condition in this the Centennial Year. The backs of the old pews contain a symbol of a different era, clips that were used to hold a man's hat or a lady's pocketbook. Ladies wore their hats in church. Pillars used to support the roof of the original church were retained and enclosed with wood paneling. A new slate roof was provided.

The larger section of the L shaped church contained the newly constructed church. This section, also a brick structure with a slate roof, was designed without pillars to provide an unobstructed view from anywhere inside the church. The refurbished original church was joined at the side of the sanctuary of the new church. Red oak paneling was used on the interior walls throughout the church.


Beautiful woodcarvings were created, highlighted by the life sized Crucifixion scene located on the wall behind the main altar.

Crucifix at the main altar

The Crucifixion scene contained carved wooden statues of Our Lady, the Crucified Jesus and Saint John. Each figure was six and a half feet tall and carved from white oak. The cross was fourteen feet long and constructed of walnut. The words of Our Lord, first to His Mother, “BEHOLD THY SON,” then to Saint John, “BEHOLD THY MOTHER” were engraved on the marble wall on either side of the base of the scene. The following quotation by Father Butler, in the March 1956 Parishioner, summarized the feelings of most people who viewed this scene. “I am quite convinced that no well disposed person could kneel before it without thinking and praying - that it will inspire countless prayers of contrition and love - that it will draw people close to the crucified Christ and the Mass.”


The main altar and wall behind it were constructed of marble. The sanctuary floor was Vert-Antonio marble.

Two relics were obtained for use in the altar:

  • Martyred Saint Maria Goretti
  • Saint Francis of Assisi

The 12 shields (emblems) of the Apostles, also known as the Cross of the Apostles, were located in vertical columns of six on each side of the Crucifixion scene, on the wall behind the altar.

Starting at the top left (west side of the altar):

  • St. Bartholomew - his skin draped on a cross
  • St. Philip - basket and cross
  • St. Andrew - saltire (cross) and anchor
  • St. John - snake around sword
  • St. James the Greater - scallop and sword
  • St. Peter - upside down cross and crossed keys
Starting at the top right (east side of the altar):
  • St. Thomas - spear and carpenter's square
  • St. Matthew - axe
  • St. James the Less - handsaw
  • St. Jude (Thaddeus) - boat
  • St. Simon - fish atop bible
  • St. Matthias - bible and axe

The Stations of the Cross, also carved from white oak, were located on the side walls of the new church wing.


Wide stained glass windows were designed to provide great amounts of daylight.

Fifteen of the windows, in honor of the Holy Name of Mary, represented each mystery of the Rosary.

The following quotation by Father Butler, in the February 1956 Parishioner, best described the details. “The fundamental purpose of these windows is twofold — to modulate or soften the light coming into the church, and to instruct by their pictures. ... ‘books for those who could not read.’ ... The fifteen principal windows of the church will depict the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. Each will be eight by ten feet, ... The color border bands will be green for the Joyful Mysteries, red for the Sorrowful Mysteries, and purple for the Glorious Mysteries. Besides these ... there will be ... an eight by twelve foot ... window for the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.”

Three of these windows were named in memory of priests who had a major impact on the development of the parish.

  • Agony in the Garden, the First Sorrowful
    Mystery; Monsignor Peter P. McGovern
  • Carrying of the Cross, the Fourth Sorrowful
    Mystery; Reverend Joseph P. Butler
  • Finding in the Temple, the Fifth Joyful
    Mystery; Reverend Thomas F. Carroll


The sixteenth stained glass window, in honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, framed a marble altar of Our Lady. Father Butler had founded Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Point Lookout, prior to being transferred to Holy Name of Mary. In addition to this Miraculous Medal altar, marble side altars for Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and the Sacred Heart graced the church interior. There were also plans to build a Saint Anthony altar that was never started.

High above the south entrance, a massive stone Celtic cross encased a stained glass rosette featuring the four Evangelists, depicted as follows:

  • St. Matthew as a winged man with a book
  • St. Mark as a winged lion with a book
  • St. Luke as a winged ox with a book
  • St. John as an eagle with a book
An identical Celtic cross above the west entrance to the church, encased a stained glass rosette featuring the four Cardinal Virtues depicted as follows:
  • Prudence as the sun with eight rays
  • Justice as a sword supporting balanced scales
  • Temperance as a triangle
  • Fortitude as a sword


Five stained glass windows represented the church hierarchy during the 1950s. Coats of Arms were provided for the Pope and Bishop of Brooklyn:

  • Pope Pius XII
  • Bishop Thomas E. Molloy S.T.D.
and three Auxiliary Bishops of Brooklyn:
  • Bishop Raymond A. Kearney S.T.D.
  • Bishop John J. Boardman D.D.
  • Bishop Edmund J. Reilly D.D.

The church had 11 entrance/exit doors. Integral to each door was a small stained glass window, featuring the Marian symbol, for Maria Regina.

The original rectory remained in use during construction of the new church. Upon the completion of construction of the church, and construction of a new rectory in a different location, the original rectory was demolished.

During construction of the church there was little clearance between the new church's west wall and the east wall of the old rectory. A “temporary wall patch” was made in the west wall of the church to facilitate the building of a side altar, in honor of Saint Anthony, after the rectory was removed. The “temporary wall patch” for the side altar remains to this day.


A sealed copper box containing among other things, bound copies of the monthly publication Parishioner, from February 1953 through January 1957, was inserted in the cornerstone. Father Butler said in May of 1957, “All of us will be in eternity when the cornerstone is opened. But when that future generation finally opens the cornerstone, they will find ample evidence of how much so many of you did to make possible the church that rested on that cornerstone.”

Father Butler was involved in every aspect of the new construction. It was Father Butler's custom to stroll outside the church, greeting and talking to his parishioners following the seven o'clock Mass every Sunday morning. When not in the rectory, he could be found in the midst of the construction, either consulting with the workmen or giving a tour to a family of parishioners. He eliminated the time consuming practice of announcements from the pulpit, by reinstating the Bulletin on March 17, 1957, as a weekly Sunday publication.

While the church was under construction, Sunday Masses were held in the school basement as well as the auditorium. Every Friday afternoon two classrooms in the basement were dismantled and an altar and folding chairs were set up. On Sunday morning, Mass was offered. On Sunday afternoon, volunteers from the Holy Name Society reassembled the classrooms.


Because of the rapid growth in Long Island at this time, there was a temporary shortage of priests and Father Butler searched outside the diocese for assistants. Reverend Colum Swan came from Ireland in September 1955, and served in the parish until December 1957. Reverend Roger Guerault served from December 21, 1957, until June 21, 1958. Reverend Gerard Gfroerer was assigned to Holy Name of Mary on August 17, 1957. Reverend Patrick McHugh, from Ireland, arrived as an assistant on June 21, 1958.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed on April 6, 1957. Nassau and Suffolk Counties had up to this time been a portion of the Brooklyn Diocese. On April 16, 1957, the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, appointed the Most Reverend Bishop Walter Philip Kellenberg, D.D. of the Diocese of Ogdensburg the first Bishop of Rockville Centre. On May 27, 1957, he was installed at the newly designated cathedral of St. Agnes.

An accident claimed the life of Father Carroll at age 44. He sustained critical burns while enjoying a summer afternoon barbecue party with relatives and friends. Father Carroll's death occurred on July 21, 1957, a few days after the accident. In early 1958 a number of Holy Name Society members formed a new council of the Knights of Columbus and named it the Father Thomas F. B. Carroll Council in his honor.


Father Butler enthusiastically encouraged the new council serving as the first Chaplain, and supplied the use of the Church Hall for its first meetings.

The first Mass celebrated in the new church was on the Sunday before Christmas, December 22, 1957. Dedication by Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg occurred on Sunday, April 13, 1958.

Father Butler had envisioned a seven-year building plan to include an addition to the school, a high school, a convent and rectory. Permission was granted by the Bishop to buy property adjoining the church and the site on the northeast corner of Rockaway and Jamaica Avenues. He purchased the former sections but was never to realize the full program. In 1958 Father Butler's health began to fail. He went to his eternal reward on April 28, 1959.


On May 2, 1959, Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg was the main celebrant at the funeral Mass for Father Butler. Interment in Holy Rood Cemetery followed the Mass.


Father Butler will always be remembered as the builder of our church. Due to his innovative funding program, it was fully paid for by the parishioners in less than five years. Westminster chimes and carillon were donated by the parishioners in his memory.

The third important stage in the life of Holy Name of Mary Parish began on May 29, 1959, when Reverend John F. McGowan was selected by Most Reverend Walter P. Kellenberg to be the Pastor. This new leader was to bring to the people the combination of humility, charity and administrative insight that was needed to carry forward the work of Monsignor McGovern and Father Butler.

Reverend John F. McGowan

Born in Brooklyn on September 28, 1901, Father McGowan studied at Visitation school, Cathedral Prep and Cathedral College, Brooklyn. He studied theology at the North American College in Rome for four years. He was ordained on April 3, 1926. Father McGowan served as Pastor of Our Lady of Peace Church, Lynbrook, from 1953 until 1959.


From 1946 to 1953, he served at Presentation Church, in Brooklyn and was Administrator and then Pastor. He was also a curate at St. Dominic's, Oyster Bay; Our Lady of Victory, Brooklyn; St. Brigid's, Ridgewood; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Inwood; and Our Lady of Grace, Brooklyn.

On June 24, 1959, shortly after Father McGowan's appointment as Pastor, three assistant priests, Fathers Edward Byrne, Gerard Gfroerer and Patrick McHugh were transferred. Four new assistant priests were assigned to Holy Name of Mary. They were the Reverends John J. Gorman, Robert T. Mulligan, Edwin J. Collins in residence, and the newly ordained William F. Daly.

Reverend Robert T. Mulligan

Father Mulligan was later to become the Principal of St. John the Baptist High School, and was a resident priest of our parish during that tenure. He was well known and popular among parishioners. He will always be remembered for his carefully prepared and interesting homilies based on stories with historical content.



The highlights of Monsignor McGowan's years as Pastor are as follows:

  • He continued the building program begun by Father Butler.
  • He  conducted  the  Diocesan  High  Schools' building campaign in the parish.
  • He provided activities for the parish family.
  • He   incorporated   many   changes  from  the  Second Vatican Council.

The dedication and generosity of the people encouraged Monsignor McGowan to continue the Holy Name of Mary building program. With the completion of the new church, attention was turned to the problem of the overcrowded school. Two years after his arrival, an addition to the school was begun. A cornerstone was laid in 1962. Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg dedicated the school addition on May 25, 1963. The number of classrooms was increased from 12 to 24.

Addition to School


The seating capacity of the school was increased to approximately twelve hundred. As a part of the addition, a modern cafeteria was added.

A new convent and a new rectory, both of brick construction, were completed in 1964, replacing the original wooden frame buildings.

New Convent

New Rectory

In 1965 as a result of the need for facilities for sports and recreation, the school auditorium was converted to provide a supervised recreational center for both day and evening use, for the CYO and for the girls and boys of the school.

On the international scene, it was August 7, 1964, when the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was approved. Our nation was becoming more actively involved in the Vietnam War.


Additional fenced-in playground and parking facilities were made available in 1966 after the removal of the original convent, and of the Church Hall beside it. They had been located on the southwest corner of South Grove Street and East Jamaica Avenue.

The next improvements were the installation of the ramp entrance to the church, designed to aid the handicapped, and the final landscaping of the church grounds.

Monsignor McGowan began a dialogue on the subject of adding air-conditioning to the church.

In order to provide more space on the east side of the church, along the outside eastern wall of its sacristy, the adjacent property, 60 feet by 100 feet, was purchased.

In December 1962 Pope John XXIII appointed Father McGowan to the rank of domestic prelate with the title Monsignor.

In 1963 Bishop Kellenberg began a campaign to build four diocesan high schools. Holy Name of Mary Parish provided strong spiritual and financial support.

A team of approximately two hundred men was formed to canvass the parish for pledges. A total of $365,000 in pledges and cash was obtained, against a goal set by the bishop's office at $350,000.


Shortly after the arrival of Monsignor McGowan, there was an article in the monthly Parishioner titled “The Parish Family.” It gave new emphasis to parish group activities for the youth and the adults. An announcement was made that the following groups were being initiated:

  • CYO,   athletic   activities  for  grammar school boys
  • Monthly religious discussion group to stimulate interest in the Vatican Council II
  • Junior Holy Name Society
  • High School Girls' Sodality
  • Theta Tau Sodality for college and working age women
  • Nocturnal Adoration Society
  • Reintroduced  CCD  (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine)

In the following years some of the groups flourished, and other new ones arrived:

  • Teen Club
  • Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts
  • Girl Scouts and Brownies
  • Ushers Society
  • Commentators
  • Sunday Collection Counters

In 1967 there were approximately ten thousand six hundred parishioners. The school enrollment was close to eleven hundred students, who were taught by 15 sisters and 11 lay-teachers. By 1972 the school enrollment had declined to 696 students.


In 1967 the sixty-fifth anniversary of the parish was celebrated with a dinner dance at the Malibu Restaurant in Lido Beach.

The Second Vatican Council charted the course for the Church in the modern world. It began on October 11, 1962, and ran for four fall sessions ending December 8, 1965. Pope John XXIII conducted the first session. Pope Paul VI conducted the final three sessions.

Many changes resulted from the following two articles from the Vatican Council as it applied to Liturgy.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
Sacrosanctum Concilium, 4 December 1963,
Article 14 states:

  • “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy the full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else, for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.”

Article 30 states:
  • “To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalms, antiphons, hymns as well as by actions, gestures and bodily attitudes. And at the proper time a reverent silence should be observed.”


Changes were incorporated in our parish.
  • A new altar was added which was closer to the congregation.  The  original  altar  remained in place, in addition to the new altar, until 1977.
  • The priest faced the congregation when he was offering Mass.
  • Extreme  Unction became the Anointing of the Sick.
  • The   Latin  language  was  gradually  replaced with English.
  • Hymns were introduced at Mass.
  • Sermons  were called homilies and were added to weekday Masses.
  • People  who  grew  up  equating adoration with prayerful  silence were suddenly encouraged to voice their praise of God in joyful song.

In 1968 in response to the Vatican Council's Decree on Religious Life, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood held the first session of a general chapter. One of the aims as stated in its General Decrees, was “to adjust the community to meeting the changing conditions and needs of the time.” Two changes were an almost immediate result. The Sisters were allowed to return to the use of their baptismal names, and the Congregation voted that those who so desired could change to a more modern style of dress.


By the fall of 1969, the ten o'clock Mass every Sunday was a Folk Mass. Father Robert Lane started a Folk Group. The schedule was expanded during the following year to make the nine o'clock Mass a “Guitar” Mass.

There was another change from the Vatican Council with regard to administration at the parish level. Bishop Kellenberg responded to the Vatican Council's call for a greater role for the laity in church affairs. In March of 1968, he presented his Guidelines for a Parish Council and requested that such Councils be formed in all the parishes of the Rockville Centre Diocese by May 29, 1969. As a result, Monsignor McGowan appointed a preparation committee to arrange for the election of our first Parish Council. The election was held in the spring of 1969, and 1,950 ballots were cast to elect two representatives from each of the four areas into which the parish had been divided. Eight members of the eighteen-member Council were elected.

The first official meeting of the Holy Name of Mary Advisory Council was held on June 4, 1969.

A Parish School Board was appointed in September of 1969.


There was considerable controversy in the parish at this time regarding the plan to install air-conditioning in the church. The matter was finally settled by a vote among the parishioners with approximately one thousand in favor of the project and three hundred against, and the Council approved it. The Council's other task for the year consisted of an effort to formulate a constitution.

Another change occurred in the 1960s; the obligation to abstain from meat on Friday was revised. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) Complementary Norms on Penance and Abstinence of November 18, 1966, changed the rules for abstinence from meat on Fridays to the following:
“3. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, EVEN THOUGH WE HEREBY TERMINATE THE TRADITIONAL LAW OF ABSTINENCE AS BINDING UNDER PAIN OF SIN, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law.”


In the 1960s there were several changes in the rectory staff.

Reverend John P. Henry, Diocesan CYO Director, was appointed to our parish in September of 1961, and remained in residence until October 1970. He replaced Father Edwin Collins who had been transferred in June of 1961.

On June 26, 1963, Reverend John J. Lynch replaced Father Robert Mulligan. Father Mulligan later returned in September of 1965 as Principal of St. John the Baptist High School and remained in residence until September of 1986.

On June 18, 1966, Reverend William J. Conlon replaced Father William Daly.

On September 24, 1966, Reverend George J. Hein replaced Father John Gorman.

On June 17, 1967, Reverend Robert G. Lane replaced Father John Lynch.

In the later months of 1969, Monsignor McGowan's health began to decline.