History

historyOur Lady of Pity Parish is a community of faith. Our history is the story of that faith passed from generation to generation which has grown in the hearts of a small group of Italian immigrants in 1913 to a living faith shared by the large family of people who compose Our Lady of Pity Parish today.

On Christmas day 1913, Father Louis Riccio, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, opened one of his twelve missions by celebrating Mass in a private home on Depuy Street, now Caswell Avenue in Bulls Head. At this time the neighborhood was semi-rural with homes and small farms scattered along narrow, tree-lined streets and country roads. Masses were offered regularly in private home(s) organized as an out-mission of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish under the title and patronage of Our Lady of Pity, the Sorrowful Mother.  This out-mission served the Italian people until September of 1919, when a small prefabricated chapel was dedicated on Summer Avenue with Our Lady of Mount Carmel as the Mother Church.

In the summer of 1923, the Mission became a canonically established Italian National Parish to serve the many immigrants moving to the Bulls Head section of Staten Island. Father John Gallo served as the first pastor until his return to his native Italy. The succeeding pastors, Father Cyrus Falco, Father Joseph Cattoggio, Msgr. Charles Roselli, Msgr. Anthony Ricotti, Msgr. Robert Mazziotta and Msgr. Philip Franceschini have all continued in the building uf of this small Italian Mission to the great parish it is today.church-034

City planning for the Staten Island Expressway after the construction of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge called for a new location and new buildings. In May of 1956, Msgr. Ricotti purchased thirteen acres of land bordering on Richmond and Merril Avenues and saw to the construction of a new Gym (used as a Church until 1988) and Rectory. The extra property not mapped out for any projected parish facilities was donated by the parish to the Archdiocese for the furtherance of Catholic education on the Island. Upon that property Moore Catholic High School now stands.
The critical need for a fitting place of worship, a Church building, was met by Msgr. Mazziotta who in 1988 saw the dedication of our present Church by John Cardinal O’Connor. The completion of the Church altars, sanctuary and chapel were realized under the pastorate of Msgr. Franceschini and solemnly consecrated by Cardinal O’Connor in 1994.

The parish has grown in numbers significantly over the years. The many programs and activities called for more space for our youth in religious education, our senior citizens, choirs, sports and youth program, societies, etc. With this phenomenal and ever-increasing growth the parish was faced with a new challenge. In 1998 Msgr. Franceschini was able to realize and construct, through the enthusiasm and generosity of the parishioners, a state of the arts Parish Center dedicated on September 9th, 1998 and named in honor of John Cardinal O’Connor.