St. Francis Xavier's Church (Bronx)

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St. Francis Xavier Church, Bronx
General information
Architectural styleGothic Revival
Town or cityMorris Park, Bronx,
New York City, USA
Construction started1937 (for school);[1]
1955 (school annex)[1]
Completed1951 (for church);[2]
ClientRoman Catholic Archdiocese of New York
Technical details
Structural systemRed brick masonry

The Church of St. Francis Xavier is a Roman Catholic parish church in the Archdiocese of New York, located at 1703 Lurting Avenue, Morris Park, in the Bronx.[3] The parish has a church and school, both of which were founded by the Rev. James Edward Kearney (1884–1977), later the Bishop of Salt Lake City and Bishop of Rochester.


The parish was established in 1928[2][4] and dedicated in honor of St. Francis Xavier (1506–1552), the Spanish-born Jesuit missionary to India and Japan, who died en route to China.[5] The first pastor was the Rev. James Edward Kearney (1884–1977), who served St. Francis Xavier from 1928 until 1932, when he became Bishop of Salt Lake City.[6] He later was to become Bishop of Rochester.[7] John M. J. Quinn (1886–1955) was pastor from 1951 until his death in 1955, and headed a Catholic War Veterans organization.[8]

Fr. Kearney had been influential spreading Catholicism in the Bronx, founding this parish first "using two portable structures as a temporary church and auditorium."[1] During his pastorate, he also served as professor of religion at Good Counsel College in White Plains and as superintendent of parochial schools in the Bronx.[9] In 2016 the traditional Corpus Christi procession was being held after Sunday Mass of this feast in June,[10] under Frs. Robert Verrigni pastor and Matthew Reiman parochial vicar.

St. Francis Xavier's Altar on Easter Sunday 2016


In 1951, a new building was erected at 1658 Lurting Avenue, at the intersection of Van Nest Avenue, in the Morris Park section of the Bronx.[2][11] The church building was blessed and re-dedicated by Cardinal Spellman with more than 1000 people attending the ceremony.[11] The architecture of the church is very monumental for its neighborhood, if a bit retrograde for its post-ward period of design. However, in contrast to the post-war Modernist brick box churches of this period, St. Francis Xavier's Church is designed in an early Gothic style with pointed arched windows and entrances accentuating a stolid masonry mass of low gabled nave and hipped square tower. in leafy and manicured lawned surroundings. The architecture is in the style of thirteenth-century Italian Gothic. The general red brick masonry of the walls is elegantly trimmed with white limestone, as is the corbelled tower cornice, which match the white masonry statues above the principal entrance gable and on the tower upper stage side elevations.

"The parish has several substantial buildings, including what appear to be two schools. A convent was refurbished for the Franciscan sisters sponsored by Fr. Benedict Groeschel."[12] The address for the rectory is 1703 Lurting Avenue. The convent was likely originally built for the Sisters of Mercy.[1] The eleven-bay, two-storey-over-raised-basement brick school with Romanesque design accents was built in 1937 and extended in 1955.[1] The structure has a prominent, broad-hipped slate roof with an ornamental louvre surmounted by a copper-clad Latin cross. Despite varying dates, all the structures of the complex appear to have been built in harmonious styles with a brick color that very much matches the vernacular neighborhood architecture.

St. Francis Xavier School[edit]

The parish school is located at 1711 Haight Avenue and has students from New Beginnings to Eighth Grade. Following the parish's founding in 1928, Fr. Kearney founded the school in 1929, which was initially housed in the "portable" (temporary) auditorium building.[1] The school first opened on September 15, 1930; the first principal was Miss Helen Kelly.[1] Ground was broken for a permanent, eight-classroom school building on April 11, 1937, which was then staffed by the Sisters of Mercy.[1] An annex for that building was begun in 1955.[1] The school has between 325[1] and 370 students.[12]


The organ at St. Francis Xavier Church was designed in 1951 by the Kilgen Organ Company, successor firm to Geo. Kilgen & Sons of St. Louis, Mo. Kilgen's Opus 7529 for St. Francis Xavier has 2 manuals, 18 stops, 16 ranks.[13]


  • 1928-1932: Rev. James Edward Kearney (1884–1977)[1][6]
  • 1932-1955: Rt. Rev. John M. J. Quinn (1886–1955)[1]
  • 1955-1972: Rt. Rev. Joseph Doyle (1897-1984)
  • 1972-1977: Rt. Rev. G. Howard Moore (1913-1977)
  • 1977-1985: Rev. John Reardon
  • 1985-1988: Rev. Christopher O'Connor
  • 1988-1992: Rev. Bartholomew Daly
  • 1992-1998: Rev. Joseph Hickey
  • 1998-2008: Rev. Arthur Welton
  • 2008-2016: Rev. Matthew Furey
  • 2016-2017: Rev. Robert Verrigni
  • 2017- : Rev. Salvatore DeStefano


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "History of St. Francis Xavier School". Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b c See Thomas J. Shelley, The Archdiocese of New York: the Bicentennial History, (New York: Archdiocese of New York, 2007), p.484, 486; St Francis Xavier, Van Nest Ave., Morris Park (Accessed 9 February 2011)
  3. ^ The Archdiocese of New York: the Bicentennial History. 2007. ISBN 2-7468-1945-7.
  4. ^ "Bronx Church Buys Site. St. Francis Xavier to Build on Van Nest Avenue Block". New York Times. August 16, 1928. Retrieved 2011-02-08. The Seitz Estates, Inc., sold to the Church of St. Francis Xavier of the Bronx, the Rev. James E. Kearney, pastor, a plot of fourteen Iota, 200 by 175 feet ...
  5. ^ Herberman, Charles B., etc., eds. (1913). "NewAdvent Online Catholic Encyclopedia". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York City: The Encyclopedia Press, Inc. Retrieved 9 February 2011.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b "Crowd Hails Bishop At Pontifical Mass. Bronx Neighbors and Friends, Some of Other Faiths, Gather to Honor St. Francis Xavier Pastor". New York Times. October 31, 1932. Retrieved 2011-02-08. The Most Rev. James Edward Kearney, who was consecrated Bishop of Salt Lake. Utah, by Cardinal Hayea on Friday, celebrated his first solemn pontifical mass at noon yesterday in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier, 1,658 Lurting Avenue, the Bronx, where he has been pastor for four years.
  7. ^ "Bishop James Edward Kearney, Bishop Emeritus of Rochester, New York". Catholic Hierarchy. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
  8. ^ "Msgr. John Quinn, Bronx Pastor, 69; Priest at St. Francis Xavier Church Dies. Had Headed Catholic War Veterans". New York Times. August 30, 1955. Retrieved 2011-02-08. In 1932 Cardinal Hayes made him pastor of St. Francis Xavier's. There he played a leading role in building a new church edifice, which was dedicated in 1951, ...
  9. ^ Curtis, Georgina Pell (1961). The American Catholic Who's Who. XIV. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  10. ^ "St. Francis celebrates Corpus Christi" (PDF). Bronx-Times Reporter. New York. June 17, 2016. p. 30. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  11. ^ a b "New Church Dedicated In The Bronx Yesterday". New York Times. July 23, 1951. Retrieved 2011-02-08. A new edifice for St. Francis Xavier's Roman Catholic Church, 1658 Lurting Avenue, the Bronx, was blessed and dedicated yesterday morning by Cardinal Spellman with more than a thousand persons attending. ...
  12. ^ a b "St Francis Xavier, Van Nest Ave., Morris Park". March 15, 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  13. ^ See Trupiano, Larry. "Specifications for Kilgen Organ, Op. 7529" (c.1951), AGO article on St. Francis Organ, New York City Organ Project Website, (Accessed 10 February 2011)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°50′53″N 73°51′10″W / 40.84806°N 73.85278°W / 40.84806; -73.85278