Parish History

Click for Home Page.

Here follows the rich history of how our Catholic Church in Chappaqua, New York, came to be. We draw from a number of sources: Cecilia Cleveland's diary "The Story of a Summer";  Vera Malin Harris's account of our parish "History of the Church of Saint John and Saint Mary, Chappaqua, New York";  Richard Neale's synopsis in anticipation of the Church's 75th Anniversary "A Bicentennial History of the Town of New Castle"; Maurice Lavanoux and Harry Lorin Binisse's article "The Small Church"; some reflections from "Liturgical Arts" (Volume II, Number 1, 1932) and a conversation with Daniel McKeon, last surviving child of Catherine Manning McKeon, as well as anecdotal reminiscenes of many parishioners.

A special thank you to Luke McHugh and Joan Corso Boutross for curating our images, both historic and contemporary.

No Catholic Church existed in what we know today as Northern Westchester until Saint Patrick’s in Verplanck was founded in 1843. Even thirty years later, there were only four parishes, the newest being Saint Francis of Assisi, founded in Mount Kisco in 1868. It was to that tiny chapel (the present Church was built much later) that Horace Greeley’s Catholic niece Cecilia Greeley Cleveland, traveled on June 1, 1873. Her diary recounts the earliest story we have of Catholics in Chappaqua.

"Our first Sunday in Chappaqua. We have a little Church for a next door neighbor, in which services of different sects are held on alternate Sundays, the pulpit being hospitably open to all denominations except Papists. Three members of our little household, however, mamma, Marguerite and I belong to the grand old Church of Rome; so the carriage was ordered and with our brother in religion, Bernard the coachman for a pioneer, we started to find a Church or chapel of the Latin faith. At Mount Kisco, a little town four miles distant, Bernard thought we might hear Mass. 'But then it’s not the sort of Church you ladies are used to,' he added apologetically, 'It’s a small chapel, and only rough working people go there.'

 

I was quite amused at the idea that the presence of poor people was any objection, for is it not a source of pride to Catholics that their Church is open alike to the humblest and richest? So, with a suggestive word form Bernard, Gabrielle’s spirited ponies flew over the hills and far away.

A perpetual ascent and descent it seemed – a dusty road, for we are sadly in want of rain, and few shade trees border the road. Once in Mount Kisco, the novelty of the little chapel quite compensated for the disagreeable features of our journey there. A tiny chapel indeed, a plain frame building, with no pretense to architectural beauty. It was intended originally, I thought, for a Protestant meeting-house, as the cruciform shape, so conspicuous in all Catholic-built Churches, was wanting here.

 

The whitewashed walls were hung with small, rude pictures representing the Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross, and the altar piece – not I fancy, a remarkable work of art in its prime – had become so darkened by smoke, that I only conjectured its subject to be Saint Francis in prayer.

Although it was Whit Sunday, the altar was quite innocent of ornament, having only six candles and a floral display of two bouquets. The seats and kneeling benches were uncushioned, and the congregation was composed, as Bernard said, entirely of the working class, but the people were very clean and respectable in their appearance, and fervent in their devotions as only the Irish peasantry can be.

 

The Pastor, an intelligent young Irishman apparently under thirty, had already said Mass at Pleasantville, six miles distant, and upon arriving at Mount Kisco he found that about twenty of his small congregation wished to receive Communion, as it was a festival. Consequently, he spent the next hour not literally in a confessional, for there was none, but in the tiny closet dignified by the name of a vestry. From thence, had we nothing better to do, we could have heard all of the priest’s advice to his penitents.

 

This ceremony over, the young Father came out in his black cassock, and taking up his vestments which lay upon the altar steps, he proceeded with the utmost nonchalance to put them on, not hesitating to display a long rent in his surplice and a decidedly ragged sleeve.

The Mass was a Low one and the congregation were too poor to have an organ or organist. Quite a contrast to a Sunday at Saint Stephen’s or Saint Francis Xavier, but the Mass is always the same, however humble the surroundings.

 

Nearly another fifty years would pass before there was a Catholic Church in Chappaqua.

A Church for Chappaqua

 

In a way, it was the Panama Canal that gave rise to the Church of Saint Johnand Saint Mary. Before there was a canal, John B. Manning owned the railroad that crossed the Isthmus of Panama. When the canal was being constructed, first by the French and then by the Americans, the railroad was needed by the engineers and

excavating crews. Selling it to the canal developers, John Manning made a not inconsiderable fortune for himself and his family.

After John’s death in 1918, his daughter, Catherine Manning McKeon (Mrs. Robert McKeon), determined to use part of her inheritance to erect a memorial in stone to him and to her mother, Mary O’Leary Manning. The result was the Little Church, built in 1922 by Mrs. McKeon – one of the few Catholic Churches in the country paid for by a single donor. At Mrs. McKeon’s request and in light of the Church she was giving to the Archdiocese, the Parish of Saint John and Saint Mary was established in 1922 by the Most Reverend Patrick J. Hayes, Archbishop of N.Y.

Building a Parish

 

A parish as such did not exist in Chappaqua until the building of the Little Church. Before that Catholics in the area attended Mass at Holy Innocents Church in Pleasantville (established in 1893), and traveled there on foot or by train. When the parish was established it served about forty Catholic families in the territory between the Hudson River and the Connecticut line.

 

The Reverend Martin F. Cavanaugh was appointed the first Pastor, celebrating the first Mass in the Church on November 12, 1922. The Church was formally dedicated by Archbishop Hayes on June 3, 1923. The celebrant of the Mass that day was a newly ordained Priest, Reverend William J. O’Brien, who was a nephew of a member of the parish, Mrs. John Malin, and was well known in Chappaqua. A delegation of the Chappaqua Post of the American Legion in full uniform attended the Mass and ceremonies. The Archbishop gave the address of the day.

A local newspaper "The Bulletin," in its account of the ceremonies, reported that His Grace closed his talk as follows: “Here from this altar will be taught only what is truly American; what is God-given as American will always come from the sanctuary and nothing else.” After the ceremonies, Mr. and Mrs. Robert McKeon hosted a luncheon at their home for clergy and notables who had been present at the dedication.

 

In 1923 Father Cavanaugh established a mission Church in Armonk, New York. On January 25, 1924, two acres of land fronting the Armonk-Bedford State Road in Armonk were purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Schmaling. On this property Saint Patrick’s 

Church was built by volunteer workmen from the Chappaqua and Armonk areas, under the supervision of William Moran, a Chappaqua builder. It was used for the first time May 4, 1924, and remained a mission of Chappaqua until May 1966, when Armonk was established as a separate parish with Father John J. Wallace as the first Pastor.

The year 1924 saw the establishment of another mission, in Millwood, New York, where Mass was first said on Christmas Day in the Court Room. Beginning March 1, 1925, the first Sunday of Lent, Mass was offered at Millwood every Sunday. At the same time, a plot of ground, 100 x 75 feet was donated by Mr. Henry Law of Briarcliff Manor and construction of a Church began. The new Church was dedicated under the title of “Our Lady of the Wayside” on Sunday, June 21, 1925, by the Very Reverend Cornelius P. Crowley, Dean of Westchester County. In June 1929 Saint Theresa’s was established at Briarcliff Manor, and Our Lady of the Wayside was attached as a mission to the new parish.

 

In 1926 Father Cavanaugh established a third mission in Purchase, New York, where Mass was first offered on

Sunday, May 8, 1926. This remained a mission of Chappaqua until 1929, when it was transferred to the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows in White Plains. It subsequently became the parish of Saint Anthony in West Harrison.

A Religious Presence

Soon after Saint John and Saint Mary parish was established, the Society of Helpers of the Holy Souls purchased the Percy Kent estate off Paulding Road in Chappaqua to serve as their novitiate. Father Cavanaugh quickly involved the Sisters in the life of the parish, and during the fifty years they remained in Chappaqua, they were an integral part of parish life, serving especially as Sunday School teachers in all parts of the parish. The Sisters provided help to the needy, supported retreat facilities, and offered prayer and friendship to generations of people in Chappaqua. By 1973, however, their numbers had dwindled and the property was sold to the Christian Herald.

The Sisters provided help to the needy, supported retreat facilities, and offered prayer and friendship to generations of people in Chappaqua. By 1973, however, their numbers had dwindled and the property was sold to the Christian Herald.In what they did, the Helpers of the Holy Soul were not unlike another group of Religious Women who lived in the parish, the Sisters of the Cenacle. Their Retreat House on Route 128 drew retreatants from all over to reflect, pray, and meditate in the quiet surroundings provided by the Sisters. When they too faced dwindling numbers, their property also was sold and purchased by the Unification Church. But in recent years, it has been sold again and become a Formation House for the Legionaries of Christ, a new institute within the Catholic Church.

Father Cavanaugh enjoyed an unusual rapport with non-Catholics in the community, and was far ahead of his time in the ecumenical movement. In 1927 when he was assigned to found a new parish, that of Saint Ann in the Bronx, Mrs. S. Earl Gedney, a member of the Congregational Church, organized a committee to collect funds from non-Catholics in the community to purchase a chalice for him as a token of their esteem. At a farewell dinner at the Briarcliff Lodge in Briarcliff Manor, the chalice was presented to him by the Reverend Frank M. Clendenin, son-in-law of Horace Greeley and Rector of the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. Father Cavanaugh was succeeded as Pastor of Saint John and Saint Mary on July 1, 1927 by the Reverend John J. Stanley, who remained until September 24, 1932, when he was transferred to the Pastorate of Saint Mary’s Church, Kingston, New York. It was during Father Stanley’s Pastorate that the present rectory was constructed.

The original rectory had been the first house beyond the Church on King Street. The present rectory, blending in architectural design with the adjoining Church, was built in 1928 and donated to the parish by Daniel Manning McKeon, son of the donor of the Church.

 

The architect for the rectory was a local man, James Renwick Thomson. Father Stanley’s charity as the Great Depression began was noteworthy; he was greatly loved, and all were saddened by his transfer.

Depression, War and Peace

The Reverend Joseph E. Brady succeeded Father Stanley, and served during a period of tremendous growth in the parish. In the Spring of 1933 Saint Patrick’s Mission Church in Armonk was remodeled, enlarged and completely refurbished. Saint John and Saint Mary’s Holy Name Society was organized on May 10, 1938, and the Altar Society on June 29, 1938. In 1944 Father Brady acquired the property on Saint John’s Place that is now the lower parking lot. He also obtained for the parish the house beyond the lot to provide a place for Sunday School and Church society meetings. During his long tenure, through the Depression, World War II, and the burgeoning of the suburbs afterwards, Father Brady remained the final arbiter of Catholic life in Chappaqua until his death on July 15, 1955. 

A Parish School

The school opened on September 21, 1959 for children in grades one through four, and was staffed by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, a teaching order from Newburgh, New York. One grade was added each year until eight grades were in operation. The school’s Mother’s Auxiliary was organized almost immediately. The name of the organization was later changed to the Women’s Auxiliary and later still to the Women’s Association. The solemn blessing and dedication of the new parochial school and convent by Francis Cardinal Spellman took place on Saturday afternoon June 11, 1960. At the ceremony Cardinal Spellman announced the elevation of Father Stryker to the rank of Monsignor.

Monsignor Stryker remained Pastor until August 24, 1963, when he was transferred to the Church of Saint John in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. He was succeeded by Monsignor Thomas A. Kelly. The Reverend John J. O’Donohue, who had served as parochial assistant for eleven years, was transferred in February, 1966, to become Pastor of the Church of Saint Mary in Washingtonville, New York. On May 28, 1966, Monsignor Kelly was granted an indefinite leave of absence due to ill health, and the Reverend Robert J. Skelly was named administrator of the parish. On September 2, 1967, Father Skelly was appointed Pastor, and Monsignor Kelly was named Pastor Emeritus. In October 1969, Father Skelly was elevated to the rank of Monsignor by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI.

To this day there are fond remembrances of Saint John and Saint Mary School. Although its life was short – only fourteen years – it provided an educational center of surpassing excellence in subjects like mathematics. In February, 1972, Monsignor Skelly informed the parishioners that the Parish School of Saint John and Saint Mary would close in June at the end of the current school year. The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin were no longer able to staff the school, and after consideration of all the alternatives, it was recommended that the Parish School be converted to a School of Religion. Some who experienced that period remember the sadness and the hurt the announcement caused.

The Parish Center

 

Following the closing of the Parish School in June 1972, the building was rented for two years by the Chappaqua Central School District for middle school classes. The classrooms were also used by Saint John and Saint Mary’s School of Religion. In 1974, the auditorium was renovated to make it more suitable for additional Sunday Masses. The office of the Director of Religious Education and the Church administrative office were also located in the building, and it was designated as the Saint John and Saint Mary Parish Center.

An Expanding Parish

 

During Monsignor Skelly’s tenure as Pastor the parish experienced rapid growth – a reflection of the growth in the New Castle community at large. Maryknoll priests and seminarians responded to Monsignor Skelly’s request for assistance and a bond was forged between the missionaries and the parish. Maryknoll Fathers John Ahern and Joseph McCabe are still remembered fondly by long-time parishioners.

 

One of the first Parish Councils in the Archdiocese was established under Monsignor Skelly’s leadership, and since its inception, has assisted the Pastor and the parish priests in the work of the parish. Through the Council and its committees lay people have become enormously involved in the life of the parish. Enabling that involvement is one of Monsignor Skelly’s enduring legacies.

In 1985, because of Monsignor Skelly’s illness, Father James T. McGuire was named Administrator and in July of 1986, Father McGuire was named Pastor. Monsignor Skelly retired as Pastor of the parish and was named Pastor Emeritus. During June of 1986, the parish celebrated “Monsignor Skelly Week”, which was a series of celebrations marking Monsignor’s 75th birthday, his retirement as Pastor and his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.

 

The rectory was enlarged to provide living quarters for Monsignor Skelly who continued to assist the Pastor.

In 1922, when the Parish of Saint John and Saint Mary was founded, it comprised 40 Catholic families spread

across Upper Westchester from the Hudson River to the Connecticut line. Today the territory of the Parish is

much smaller – there are four Parishes in that same area – but Saint John and Saint Mary comprises over

1100 registered Catholic families. Projections are that the growth will continue. As of 1996, our Religious Education program now serves over 400 students in Grades 1 through 9, and the numbers increase each year. Teaching space is at a premium.

For the 75th Anniversary of the Parish in 1997, a reconfiguration of the interior of the Parish Center was provided. 

Thirty-eight years ago, in November 1972, as the Parish of Saint John and Saint Mary celebrated its first fifty years, Monsignor Skelly said “It has continued for fifty years, and hopefully it has not just grown up. I hope that it continues to grow in, through, and because of Christ, as long as His will be done.” At the completion of seventy-five years, we echo that prayer.

Msgr. McDonnell was later installed as an Auxillary Bishop of New York City in December 2001  His successor, Msgr. Charles Kelly raised money through the Restore & Renew Campaign for additional restorations to the Upper Church and the Little Church. After the death of the beloved Father Kenneth O'Toole, Msgr. Patrick Barry was appointed Senior Priest at Saint John and Saint Mary. Msgr. Kelley died suddenly in October of 2006. Rev. Msgr. Thomas E. Gilleece, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York, was installed as pastor in September of 2007.    

About the Little Church

 

Catherine McKeon appreciated the simplicity of old English churches. When she commissioned Raphael Hume to design a Catholic Church in Chappaqua, the enduring beauty of thirteenth century Traditional Gothic chapels may have been in her mind. Early Gothic was, at any rate, the style which the architect’s design followed: simple but beautiful lines tested by time. He chose fieldstone quarried locally, together with slate and red brick as the external structural elements.

 

To add an illusion of height to the roof line, craftsmen used the medieval technique of layering the slates in progressively smaller courses from widest at the bottom to narrowest at the top. It is meant to fool the eye and make the building look taller. 

The pointed arch, which is a hallmark of all Gothic architecture, can be seen exteriorly in the window openings and doorways, but is most noticeable framing the sanctuary of the Church.In the original design, the belfry was to be on the rectory side of the church, with the church entrance on King Street where the stairs to the choir loft now rise.

 

The design was changed, however, before construction began, and the sacristy, belfry and a side entrance were placed on King Street. The main doors were then located at their present site on what later became Saint John’s Place.

Carved and gilded in Italy and purchased by Mrs. McKeon, the original altar candlesticks were of wood. Having dried and cracked over the course of time, they are now used only for Christmas and Easter seasons and for other special feasts during the year. The black metal candlesticks are a recent interpretation of a fourteenth century candlestick design. It is not the first time candle fixtures have been changed in the Church. Originally two small sanctuary lamps bracketed the Tabernacle. They were later replaced by the present magnificent Florentine handing brass sanctuary lamp. The lamp is a reminder of Christ’s Eucharistic presence in the Tabernacle.

The baldachin over the altar was not in the original plan, and was added afterward. The original vestments and antependia were made in Vienna, Austria in 1922 and were styled after those used in Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in the Middle Ages. Only the stole remains at present. The ornamentation on the vestment is reminiscent of the Book of Kells.

 

The vestments were embroidered in gold thread and solid gold braid, which are now irreplaceable. The elongated arched Creche, which is placed in the Parish Center during the Christmas season, was donated by the late Mr. and Mrs. John B. Kelly. It is the work of Mr. Frederick V. Guinzburg, a local sculptor.

The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also of wood, hand carved in Oberammergau, Bavaria, by Georg Johann Lang. Some have seen resemblances in Lang’s work to portrayals of Christ by Georges Rouault. Time spent meditating at each Station will prove rewarding. The stained glass windows are primarily Grisaille (a pattern painted and fused into the glass) and were designed and fabricated by the Tyrolese Art Glass Company of Innsbruck, Austria. The style can best be seen in the three choir loft windows where the pattern intertwines the Celtic Cross of Ireland with the Windmill Emblem of New York. A simpler cross hatch pattern is found in the three sacristy windows, and two flower patterns (fleur-de-lis and quatrefoil) are in the door panels.

The seven sanctuary windows depict six of the patron saints of the McKeon family. One faces the crucifix and on the right wall are Catherine of Alexandria, Patrick, Robert Bellarmine, Francis of Assisi, and Rita of Cascia. In the two windows opposite are Saint Joseph and the prophet Daniel.

The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also of wood, hand carved in Oberammergau, Bavaria, by Georg Johann Lang. Some have seen resemblances in Lang’s work to portrayals of Christ by Georges Rouault. Time spent meditating at each Station will prove rewarding. The stained glass windows are primarily Grisaille (a pattern painted and fused into the glass) and were designed and fabricated by the Tyrolese Art Glass Company of Innsbruck, Austria. The style can best be seen in the three choir loft windows where the pattern intertwines the Celtic Cross of Ireland with the Windmill Emblem of New York. A simpler cross hatch pattern is found in the three sacristy windows, and two flower patterns (fleur-de-lis and quatrefoil) are in the door panels.

With one exception (Saint Patrick, the Archdiocesan patron), the seven sanctuary windows depict the patron saints of the McKeon family. As one faces the crucifix, on the right wall are Catherine of Alexandria, Patrick, Robert Bellarmine, Francis of Assisi, and Rita of Cascia. In the two windows opposite are Saint Joseph and the prophet Daniel.

The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also of wood, hand carved in Oberammergau, Bavaria, by Georg Johann Lang. Some have seen resemblances in Lang’s work to portrayals of Christ by Georges Rouault. Time spent meditating at each Station will prove rewarding. The stained glass windows are primarily Grisaille (a pattern painted and fused into the glass) and were designed and fabricated by the Tyrolese Art Glass Company of Innsbruck, Austria. The style can best be seen in the three choir loft windows where the pattern intertwines the Celtic Cross of Ireland with the Windmill Emblem of New York. A simpler cross hatch pattern is found in the three sacristy windows, and two flower patterns (fleur-de-lis and quatrefoil) are in the door panels. Of the the seven sanctuary windows, six depict the patron saints of the McKeon family. As one faces the crucifix, on the right wall are Catherine of Alexandria, Patrick, Robert Bellarmine, Francis of Assisi, and Rita of Cascia. In the two windows opposite are Saint Joseph and the prophet Daniel.

The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also of wood, hand carved in Oberammergau, Bavaria, by Georg Johann Lang. Some have seen resemblances in Lang’s work to portrayals of Christ by Georges Rouault. Time spent meditating at each Station will prove rewarding. The stained glass windows are primarily Grisaille (a pattern painted and fused into the glass) and were designed and fabricated by the Tyrolese Art Glass Company of Innsbruck, Austria. The style can best be seen in the three choir loft windows where the pattern intertwines the Celtic Cross of Ireland with the Windmill Emblem of New York. A simpler cross hatch pattern is found in the three sacristy windows, and two flower patterns (fleur-de-lis and quatrefoil) are in the door panels.

 

With one exception (Saint Patrick, the Archdiocesan patron), the seven sanctuary windows depict the patron saints of the McKeon family. As one faces the crucifix, on the right wall are Catherine of Alexandria, Patrick, Robert Bellarmine, Francis of Assisi, and Rita of Cascia. In the two windows opposite are Saint Joseph and the prophet Daniel.

The medallions in the windows on either side of the pews portray incidents from the lives of the parish’s patron saints: Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist, after whom Mrs. McKeon’s parents had been named. Starting on the right, incidents from the life of Our Lady are depicted: the Annunciation, the Birth of Jesus, the Flight into Egypt, the Marriage Feast of Cana, Mary at the foot of the cross, and the Coronation of Mary.

 

On the opposite side, beginning by the side hallway, are scenes from the life of John the Baptist: the Angel’s message to Zachary, the Visitation, a portrait of the boy Jesus with his cousin John, “Behold the Lamb of God,” John baptizing Jesus, “Are you the One who is to come?”, and John’s beheading. One last window is in the side hallway: It portrays the then (1922) newly-canonized Saint Joan of Arc.

Like the Stations of the Cross, the sanctuary furnishings – the priest’s chair, the deacon’s bench, and the servers’ pew – were also carved in Oberammergau. The intricate needlepoint on the sanctuary cushions is more recent, having been painstakingly designed and executed by parishioners during the 1990 restoration.

When in 1990 the sanctuary was refurbished in keeping with liturgical developments, the Kasota marble of the high altar and of the altar rail was reconfigured to make the present altar and pulpit. Joseph Belfatto was the architect, and D’Ambrosio Studios executed the design to make the sanctuary a simple and beautiful setting for Mass and the Sacraments.

 

About the Upper Church

 

An Upper Church has traditionally been the larger of two churches in a parish, used for the more heavily attended parish Masses and celebrations. This is what we hope will be the case in Saint John and Saint Mary. The Upper Church seats 501 people as compared to the 135 capacity of the Little Church.

The Little Church – the original Saint John and Saint Mary – continues to be an integral part of parish life, used for scheduled daily Masses, for many weddings and funerals, and for prayer and visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

Because the Little Church was based on a thirteenth century model, a resonance of that is found in the contemporary interpretations of thirteenth century religious art used in the Upper Church. The interior walls are covered in a rough plaster surface and wood wainscoting. The wood is a hue consistent with the arches, ceiling, floor, pews and doors. The lighting fixtures are traditional looking outside, but state-of-the-art within. The old kitchen has become Community Room C – a Crying Room with a clear view of the altar for even the youngest child.

Curved pews have been laid out in a welcoming cruciform shape throughout the nave to provide easy access to Communion stations. A new Ahlborn-Galanti organ is the centerpiece of the traditional looking balcony.

Staircases to the balcony are on each side of the entrance. A reconciliation room is adjacent to each staircase. It is the hope that someday organ pipes will surmount each reconciliation room.

Stained glass windows designed by Jean Jacques Duval, executed by Rohlf Studios

Raised three steps above floor level, the sanctuary platform consists of white Sardinian stone and slate, supporting a white stone altar and a stone pulpit with enamel work inserts of the four evangelists created by Yan Rieger from a painting in the Book of Kells. Carved into the center of the altar’s base is a thirteenth century Latin inscription: lesu Christe esto nobis lux, dux, rex, lex (Jesus Christ, be our light, guide, rule, law). On the wall behind the altar, a life-sized contemporary version of a thirteenth century Christus has been sculpted by Pasquale Matera. Flanking the crucifix are statues of Saint John and Saint Mary sculpted by the same artist and based on thirteenth century examples presently in the Cathedral of Magdeburg. The statue of Saint Mary is designated Our Lady of Chappaqua.

 

Located under a pre-existing Risen Christ window, the Blessed Sacrament Altar consists of a stone pillar supporting a tabernacle that is a miniature in stone of the Little Church. Pasquale Matera is again the artist.

 

The baptismal font, designed and executed by Yan Rieger, is unique. The pivoting bowl used for infant baptisms swings away to reveal a step-in adult Baptistery. The gate depicts the Baptism of Christ by Saint John the Baptist, the parish patron.

 

The Stations of the Cross begin at the baptismal font and end at the Risen Christ window – an echo of the pilgrimage each Christian undertakes in following Christ.

In keeping with ancient tradition, the stained glass windows provide material for meditation. On the upper right wall as you enter the Church are symbols of the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary; above the balcony the seven Sacraments are symbolically portrayed; and to the left on the upper wall are the Twelve Commandments. (The Two Great Commandments of the New Testament – love God, love neighbor – surround and summarize the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament.) The four Evangelists are depicted on windows in the walls, and over the side exits are symbols associated with Saint John (the Agnus Dei) and Our Lady (the Ave Maria sign). Additionally, at the entrance doors in the vestibule, two stained glass panels depicting Saint John and Saint Mary have been installed, together with the opening words of the prayers associated with them – the Benedictus and the Magnificat. Over the door the Church’s name – Saint John and Saint Mary – welcomes all to the parish.

 

Saint John and Saint Mary's Stained Glass Windows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Walls of the Church: Lamb of God Ave Maria symbol Risen Christ (Symbols for the Four Evangelists are inspired by how the Gospels begin)

 

Matthew: human face (genealogy of Jesus)

Mark: lion (Christ in the desert)

Luke: ox (the stable at Bethlehem)

John: eagle (the Word swooping down from heaven)

 

Above the Balcony: Symbols of the Seven Sacraments

Baptism: flowing water

Confirmation: laying on of hands, Spirit, cross

Penance: power of the keys, purple stole

Eucharist: host and chalice

Marriage: rings and flames

Holy Orders: stole, host and chalice, scriptures

Anointing: oil for the infirm

Stained Glass Windows Inspired by the Twelve Commandments

 

Love God with all your heart, soul and mind: hands reaching out to God.

I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods beside Me: the eye of the Lord inside the Star of David

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain: Star of David smashing golden calf idol

 

Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day: house of worship

 

Honor your father and your mother: entwined branches giving rise to new leaves

 

You shall not kill: knife cutting root of living bush

 

You shall not commit adultery: snake crawling through wedding rings

 

You shall not steal: coins falling from cut purse

 

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor: crossed fingers on Bible

 

You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse: jealous eye in wedding rings

 

You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods: figures with backs to one another, each looking out for self

 

Love your neighbor as yourself: hands reaching out to each other

Long before it was articulated in the Constitution of the Parish Council, the mission of the people of Saint John and Saint Mary was being fulfilled. For eighty-eight years, parishioners have been a generous, caring and sharing people of God. Grateful for the example given by those who have gone before, and blessed with the ongoing dedication of today’s parishioners, we celebrate the past eighty-eight years and look forward to our future as Chappaqua's Roman Catholic Church.

 

(Text from booklet composed July 21, 2010)

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon