St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church (Queens)

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St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church
St Sebastian Roman Catholic Church Woodside4.jpg
Basic information
LocationNew York City, United States
Geographic coordinates40°44′41.9″N 73°54′23.6″W / 40.744972°N 73.906556°W / 40.744972; -73.906556Coordinates: 40°44′41.9″N 73°54′23.6″W / 40.744972°N 73.906556°W / 40.744972; -73.906556
AffiliationRoman Catholic
Year consecrated1896 (old church)
1952 (new church)[1]
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusParish Church
Architectural description
Architect(s)Berlenbach, F.J. (1896 church)
Herbert J. Krapp (1952 church)[1]
Architectural styleRomanesque Revival
Length55 metres (180 ft)
Width25 metres (82 ft)

St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic parish church in the Diocese of Brooklyn, located at Woodside, Queens, New York City.

Although the parish of St. Sebastian itself was founded in May 1894[2] by Bishop Charles McDonnell of Brooklyn, New York, there was no building for the congregation until June 14, 1896 when the parish's first building was dedicated [3][4] a year after the demise of its architect Franz J. Berlenbach, Jr.[4][5]

A new and permanent church building for the parish was later erected in 1952, on the location of a former cinema.[1] Fr. Edward Gannon was the first pastor of the parish.[4] The current church building is located on Roosevelt Avenue at 58th Street.[6]

Historical background[edit]

Prior to becoming a church site, the current St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church was the former location of Loew's Woodside Theatre, a movie theatre that opened on September 27, 1926, and designed by Herbert J. Krapp. It had the capacity to seat 2,000 people. On its opening night, it once screened a pre-release version of Buster Keaton's comedy film, the Battling Butler. Later in 1955, it was sold to the St. Sebastian Roman Catholic parish in order to found a chapel which was transformed into a church building. The construction of the church began with the demolition of the entrance and lobby of the theatre, where a Romanesque bell tower was erected. The theatre's original auditorium decor was kept and restored, along with "the domed ceiling, 40 columns along the side walls that were returned to their original marble with gold leaf capitals".[1]

Formally founded as a parish in 1894, St. Sebastian Roman Catholic parish was originally intended to provide religious services to German factory workers and immigrants of Queens County. Afterwards, it became the religious center of immigrants from Ireland. As of 2014, Sunday Mass attendees include those of Hispanic (45%), Irish (25%), Filipino (25%), and Korean (5%) descent; which in total averages 4,000 people.[citation needed]Masses are celebrated primarily in English, but also in Spanish, and occasionally[clarification needed] in Tagalog and Korean as well.[7]

The New York City Organ Project has documented the musical organs used or formerly used by the St. Sebastian Catholic Church, namely the III/Rodgers Instruments electronic organ, the II/Midmer-Losh Organ Company organ in 1930, and the I/6 Geo. Jardine & Son organ in 1878 for the church proper, and the II/Rodgers Instruments organ for its chapel.[8]

After Monsignor D. Joseph Finnerty and Msgr. Michael J. Hardiman[7] the current pastor and administrator of St. Sebastian is Rev. Kevin P. Abels.[9] The parish complex includes a convent, a rectory, a parish center (with a fitness center), and a school officially known as St. Sebastian School, but is sometimes referred to as Saint Sebastian Parochial School or St. Sebastian Roman Catholic School.[4][10] The rectory is located at 39-63 57th Street.[8][11]


  1. ^ a b c d Loew's Woodside Theatre, Woodside, New York, 58-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, NY 11377, USA,
  2. ^
  3. ^ St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church profile at Queens Federation of Churches, Directory of Queens Congregations,
  4. ^ a b c d St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church website: "Our History"
  5. ^ New York City Planning Commission Archived 2010-05-28 at the Wayback Machine., June 23, 2004; Calendar No. 15 N040463 HKK
  6. ^ "Woodside at a Glance", (...) "The imposing St Sebastian Roman Catholic Church at Roosevelt Ave and 58th St" (...)
  7. ^ a b Cheng, Mae (Newsday, Melville, N.Y. reporter), "Easing the Way", "Faith keeps immigrant groups together", "Spirit of Home In House of God", "Immigrants & Religion", "ASK A PRO",; January 7, 2001.
  8. ^ a b St. Sebastian Catholic Church (Woodside) profile: "The New York City Organ Project Organs present and past in the five boroughs of New York City, Queens,
  9. ^ St. Sebastian Church Bulletin, July 20, 2014.
  10. ^ Contact Info, St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church,
  11. ^ Press Releases/2006,, June 16, 2006

External links[edit]