In 1935, Monsignor Edward J. Higgins a World War I veteran saw the need for an organization to serve veterans and uphold the Catholic faith. Monsignor Higgins gathered parishioners who had served in World War I together at Immaculate Conception Church in AstoriaQueens, New York. This event is recognized as the first meeting of the Catholic War Veterans. On May 19, 1935 the Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York. In 1935 Monsignor Higgins journeyed to Rome where Pope Pius XI bestowed his blessing upon the Catholic War Veterans, and blessed the American and Papal flags of the organization. In July 1940 The Catholic War Veterans was officially recognized as a Veterans Organization by the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. President Ronald Reagan signed legislation on August 17, 1984 granting the Catholic War Veterans a Congressional Charter, being the 59th group to receive a Federal Charter, and the first explicitly religious organization to receive the honor.
Immaculate Conception Church in Astoria, New York where Monsignor Higgins founded the Catholic War Veterans has been designated the National Shrine of the Catholic War Veterans. The building was built in 1950 and designed by Henry J. McGill, one of the era’s leading church architects. There are two cornerstones, one on either side of the main entrance. The one to the left of the door as you approach is the 1950 date stone. To the right is the CWV stone which depicts the original cross logo of the Catholic War Veterans. The church also includes a number of stained glass windows that commemorate the Catholic War Veterans.