A Brief History of the Curé of Ars Parish
Curé of Ars Parish began as a mission church of St. Barnabas Parish in Bellmore on Nov. 5, 1922.
Bishop Molloy established Curé of Ars Parish on Oct. 10, 1926, the nation’s first parish named after newly-canonized St. John Vianney.
Fr. Arthur Leonard was founding pastor. He had 200 parishioners. Work on the church began on May 17, 1928. The church was dedicated on May 1, 1932.
In 1940, Fr. John F. Cusack, became the second pastor. There were 800 families in the parish. A drive was begun to build a parish school.
On Jan. 1, 1946, Fr. William O’Keefe became the third pastor. There were 1,300 parishioners. He renovated the church and purchased land for the school. Groundbreaking for the school took place on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950. On September 17, 1951, nearly 600 students began classes. The school was staffed by the Dominican Sisters of Amityville. By 1956, there were 1,129 students enrolled.
In 1957, Fr. Martin J. Flynn became the fourth pastor, but he was soon transferred to the diocesan seminary as rector.
Fr. Francis H. Liller became the fifth pastor. He built the new rectory which was dedicated in 1960.
Fr. Stephen Cuddeback was appointed the sixth pastor in 1963. The parishioners then numbered 2,100 families. Fr. Cuddeback initiated the CYO program, presided over the first Vianney Ball, and welcomed the new Parish Council.
Fr. William Costello became the seventh pastor. He kept the school open, hiring laymen when the Sisters could no longer staff it. He revised the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, initiated Home Missions, and a monthly Children’s Mass. He had the church repainted and conducted a parish census.
Fr. Edward Sweeney became the eighth pastor. In 1979 the first Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were commissioned and the pastor created C.A.R.E (Curé of Ars Religious Education). The church underwent major renovations and reopened on Palm Sunday 1992. That same year Curé of Ars School closed and became part of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Regional School.
In 1992, Fr. James P. Swaider became the ninth pastor. He shored up parish finances and beautified the grounds. He also began repairs on the church masonry, restoring the appearance of the exterior to its original design and beauty.
Fr. James Mannion, a son of the parish, became the tenth pastor in 2001. He served during the horror of September 11, 2001, when seven parishioners perished. Prayerful consolation was provided to all the parishioners through memorial liturgies during which the church was packed. He enhanced the prayer life of the parish through Advent and Lenten missions, Adult Faith Formation and Family Ministry.
In June 2004, Fr. Charles Mangano became the eleventh pastor. At his installation Mass, he dedicated our parish and his pastorate to the Blessed Mother. He claimed that through Mary’s intercession, many changes occurred in the parish spiritually, socially and financially. Generous parishioners funded the construction of two new Chapels in the church: one to honor Our Lady, Queen of Peace and one to honor St. John Vianney. In 2006, through the invitation of Fr. Charles, the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney was brought to the parish by the Bishop of Belley-Ars, France. Over 15,000 pilgrims came to pray, venerate the heart and go to confession. In 2007, the interior of the church was renovated through the help of generous benefactors. Fr. Charles beautified the parish grounds in a variety of ways, one being by adding a grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. He renovated the Monsignor Leonard Hall and created a Youth Center. Fr. Charles established a New Evangelization Team, Respect Life Committee, a new Pastoral Council and other ministerial teams to assist in enlivening the parish with the joy and love of Christ. There was an increase in confessions and hours of adoration. Many people came back to the sacraments and there were a total of 2,800 families in the parish.
In June 2016, Curé of Ars welcomed its’ twelfth and current pastor, Monsignor Frank Caldwell.