Welcome To Our Parish
Ash Wednesday Mass Times:
We Joyfully Share Our Faith in Jesus the Christ.
As you enter our web site, you also enter our prayers.
At St. Sylvester's we pray for numerous people and for many intentions every single day.
We would be delighted, if you joined our company.
Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.
- Jesus the Christ as reported by Luke the Evangelist 23:1
Nature, chance, opportunity, and faith happily combined to create the parish of St. Sylvester. Nature provided a landscape rich in scrub oak, pine woods, and sandy soil. Chance crossed a rough wagon trail from Port Jefferson in the north to Patchogue in the south with an eastward thrust of the Long Island Railroad. Their empty intersection became Medford Station.
In 1897 real estate promoters carved a grid of streets through the woods, called it a village, and sold ground for $30.00 and acre. Finally, in 1909 Catholics regularly began worshipping together in the home of James Flynn on Waverly Avenue.
Compared with other Long Island communities, Medford was an infant. A tiny mission church was built on the corner of Port Jefferson to Patchogue Road (now called Route 112) in 1912 and priests came for Mass from surrounding parishes, but the local publication did not surpass 1,000 souls 1940. Then the highway was widened so the church had to be moved back thirty feet. It was simultaneously enlarged in an ingenious way. The entire building was cut in half across its width and a new section was inserted in the middle. Newspapers found this a delightful offbeat story.
The mission itself and Medford, Holtsville, and the surrounding areas boomed in the post war years. In 1945 an energetic young priest, Fr. Raymond Harrickey was appointed St. Sylvester's first formal administrator. Unfortunately, he had been badly burned in a church fire in Brooklyn and died within four years. In 1949 diocesan permission was granted for the mission to become an independent, self-sustaining parish, and on July 4, Fr. Rudolph Kraus was formally installed as its first pastor.
He immediately began planning a larger church for the growing congregation. This completely new building, the present church, was erected on Ohio Avenue, a residential block just west of Route 112. This second St. Sylvester's was dedicated on Christmas Eve, 1953. Sadly, Fr. Kraus died very shortly thereafter.
Nevertheless, the parish continued to grow. It rejoiced in the new approaches heralded by the second Vatican Council and in the 1970s the church building added side sections, or wings, to the length of its nave. This brought the building's capacity to about 470 people. The church was redecorated in 1986 when there were 3,600 Catholic families in the parish. Then there were three resident priests, plus regular Sunday assistants. Soon, whole sections of families were split off from the parish to become part of the new Church of the Resurrection. Today, with reduced territorial boundaries, St. Sylvester's has 5700+ households and more than half the area's total population. The number of priests, however, has fallen to two, without any Sunday assistance.
St. Sylvester's programs are huge. Christian Family Education instructs more than 1700 children from pre-school through eighth grade. Parish Social Ministry champions social justice, advocates beneficial changes in public policy, counsels hundreds of clients, and distributes food, clothing, and emergency financial assistance. Stewardship is widely practiced and parishioners imaginatively use their time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of their faith community. Indeed, there are more than 800 individuals involved in dozens of parish ministries.
Some 50 weddings, 250 Baptisms, 200 Confirmations, and 110 funerals are celebrated each year. A grand new Parish Center was dedicated on December 31, 1994, the Feast of St. Sylvester. In its first year more than 2300 separate groups met there. Another time there were 425 individuals enrolled in a course in Hebrew Scriptures. Fathers Michael F. Holzmann and Edward J. Kealey became co-pastors in 1996 and the whole parish welcomed the new millennium and its own fiftieth anniversary on December 31, 1999 by ringing the great bronze bell from its first church which had lain silently hidden in the garage for decades.