At the turn of the Twentieth Century, the farming community of Rosedale was expanding and there were larger numbers of Catholics in the area. This expansion grew more rapidly after the First World War.
Accordingly, in 1924 Bishop Thomas Molloy established St. Clare’s Parish with Rev. Joseph Goeller as its founding pastor. Father Goeller offered the first Parish Mass on Sunday, July 20, 1924. Mass was first celebrated in the firehouse which was rented by the parish. This building is still standing across from St. Clare’s. The Rosedale Sports Association most recently occupied it. Begun in 1926, the present church building would be completed and dedicated by Bishop Molly on November 13, 1927. But the Great Depression and World War II would leave work on the other parish buildings on hold.
A fundraising drive for a school building was begun in 1950. The school opened its doors in September of 1957. A new wing was later opened in 1967. Initially, the Sisters of St. Joseph were entrusted with teaching the parish youth. Today a dedicated staff of lay teachers welcome hundreds of students from within and outside our parish boundaries each morning.
1957 was also the beginning of a period of ecclesiastical transition when the Diocese of Rockville Centre was created. The parts of St. Clare’s which were in Nassau county were incorporated into a parish in the new diocese. Furthermore by 1960 the worshiping community had grown to such a size that St. Pius X Parish was erected to better serve Rosedale’s Catholics.
That time of change also saw the closure of St. Clare’s Convent.
With less Josephite Sisters in residence there, it was decided under the guidance of Msgr. John McCullagh to renovate the convent building and lease it to the Mercy Home for Children. Named after one of their benefactors, the Kevin Keating Residence opened in 1985. Under the auspices of the Mercy Home for Children, this intimate living setting is the home for autistic young men.
Besides institutional changes, there was also a cultural and ethnic transition that the parish underwent in the 1970’s when many of the original settlers of Rosedale and Laurelton left and new settlers particularly from the Caribbean arrived. This transition brought some great tensions with it and the parish staff was quick to preach and facilitate harmony. St. Clare’s Parish has blossomed into a community of many cultural heritages from many nations baptized and living one common Faith in Christ Jesus.
The present challenges faced by the community are those of evangelization, as the words of the Gospel are needed to lead and guide more than ever as Christ’s People make their way to the Promised Land. His followers continue to facilitate the outreach of Christ to young and old. This outreach helps sustain our natural families as well as our common Family of Faith.
At the dawn of the Twenty-first Century, St. Clare’s Parish continues to meet the spiritual needs of the people of Rosedale and Laurelton. Much has changed in our community and in the world during the last century but the message of Christ and His Gospel is always the same.
Compiled by Fr. John O’Connor