Corpus Christi Church Celebrates 75th Anniversary With Nostalgia Day
Corpus Christi Church, in the northern section of Woodside, concluded its 75th Anniversary Year with a Nostalgia Day Celebration on June 24. The day began with an anniversary jubilee Mass at noon, celebrated by the Rev. Patrick J. West, parish administrator, in the parish church, at 32nd Avenue and 60th Street. A bountiful potluck luncheon, served by parish Youth Ministry volunteers, followed in the parish auditorium-gymnasium. An extensive display of church memorabilia was on exhibition for all to view. The day concluded with an enthusiastic audience viewing a slide presentation by local historian and author, Catherine Gregory, who showed the parish area in its early years, and how Corpus Christi Church has served the area as new development took place.
The building boom in the 1930s, in what had been the rural northern part of St. Sebastian’s Parish, brought thousands of Catholics to the new housing in Woodside which caused an urgent need for Woodside to have its own Catholic church. Thus, Corpus Christi Church was established on June 18, 1937, with the Rev. Charles J. Cary as founding pastor. The following Sunday, four Masses were celebrated using a portable altar on the stage and daily Mass celebrated in a large room on the upper floor. Groundbreaking for Corpus Christi’s own church building, at its current location, took place on May 15, 1938, with the first Mass celebrated there on May 22, 1940. The formal dedication of Corpus Christi Church took place on July 13, 1941.
Just months later, the United States entered World War II, and the young parish threw itself into the war effort, working with war relief agencies and establishing the Corpus Christi Unit of the American Red Cross. After the war, the parish saw a growth in population with returning veterans and their families occupying Northern Boulevard Houses; 2,000 temporary housing units set up for them on Trains Meadow. The eastern parish boundary was then set at 73rd Street. The parish continued to grow after permanent housing became available for the war veterans at the western end of the parish, in NYC Woodside Houses, erected on a vacant tract that for generations was the site of the Jackson-Riker family home and farm.
Under the pastorate of the Rev. Robert E. Crowell, a new grammar school with auditorium, a convent, and a rectory were dedicated on October 29, 1961. With the new buildings, the church plant extended from 32nd Avenue to 31st Avenue and from 60th Street to 61st Street.
While parishioners continue to assist Corpus Christi priests in serving the spiritual needs of the parish community, parishioners also serve temporal needs by faithfully running the Corpus Christi Food Pantry. Corpus Christi Church is grateful for the assistance and good works of its many volunteer parishioners, including those who worked to put together its 75th Anniversary Nostalgia Day. Committee volunteers for this spectacular event include Mary Burkhardt, members of the Youth Ministry who assisted with set up, serving food, and clean up, Mary and Brendan Mahoney who took charge of the luncheon, and Deidre Andrews, Nancy Colgan and Gregory who set up the memorabilia exhibit.