Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Lasting Monument: The Birth of St. Vincent de Paul’s Parish

By Susan Miller

July 20, 1913 – March 19, 1914

Ninety-eight years ago this month, Father James Bustin announced during Mass at St. Mary’s Church that a new parish would be formed on Corning’s Northside, the Parish of St. Vincent de Paul. This parish would be a home for Catholics from Painted Post, Erwin, and Hornby, as well as the Northside. Father John S. Hayes described this history in the Diamond Jubilee Review, St .Vincent de Paul Parish, 1913-1988. If you were a member of St. Vincent’s parish in 1988, you probably have a copy of this well-written booklet.

The announcement on Sunday, July 20, 1913, was the culmination of several years of planning. The land for St. Vincent’s was actually purchased in 1909 due to over-crowding at St. Mary’s school. Father Bustin saw an urgent need for a Catholic school on the Northside, a need which evolved into the formation of a new parish. As Father Hayes wrote, “…the beginnings of St. Vincent’s, the purchase of this property, came from a desire to advance Catholic education facilities in Corning.” Today, the closing of a parish school is often an early warning sign that the parish is in jeopardy.

During the early 20th century, almost all new parishes in the Diocese of Rochester (DOR) started with one building that held both the church and school. “In most cases - St. Patrick’s in Corning and St. Vincent’s are cases in point – the parish would outgrow the original building and a new and more elaborate church edifice would be built later,” wrote Father Hayes. St. Vincent’s current church was built in 1955.

Father Bustin also announced the new pastor of the parish – Father John A. Conway. His appointment took place the previous day when he arrived in Corning. When Father Conway learned that July 19, the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, was his effective date, he asked to make St. Vincent the patron of the parish.

For $25,000, the church/school was built in an amazing eight months. “The first floor contained the church with an auditorium intended to seat several hundred people. The second floor was occupied by the school of four classrooms,” Father Hayes wrote.

He summarized this time as follows: “Energetic leadership and the response of the people is evident in these facts: July 20, 1913, the date of the establishment of the parish and Father Conway’s appointment (first pastor); Bishop Hickey blessed the cornerstone on November 13, 1913…Dedication by the same bishop took place March 29, 1914, again in such a short time-span to have a lasting monument to the faith of St. Vincent’s people….”


  1. Gretchen thank you for this post. As I looked at the picture of the school building I remembered my own years spent there attending St. Vincent de Paul School in the sixties and up until the flood of 1972. The building itself had as I recall eight classrooms, an enormous kitchen and a hall where many a suppers and bingo nights and festivals took place. With a little bit of ingenuity and some elbow grease I dare say that the right group of people could get that building right back to its original splendor.

  2. I absolutely agree that ingenuity and elbow grease would go a long way toward getting SV's school back in shape.

    I cannot take any credit for the article, other than posting it. Susan wrote it. I believe there are other such articles coming, too.