Parish: Shrine Church of St. Jude
Address: 89 Overlook Drive, Mastic Beach, N.Y., 11951
Sunday Mass schedule: Saturday: 5 p.m. & 7 p.m. (Spanish);
Sunday: 8 a.m. (English and Italian), 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. & 5 p.m.
Daily Mass schedule: Mon-Friday, 9 a.m., Wed: noon, Saturday 8:30 a.m.
Registered families: 3,200
In the 1930s inexpensive property, beautiful beaches and a convenient Long Island Rail Road station made Mastic Beach the ideal summer getaway for Brooklynites. A small wooden church that seated 250 was built at the corner of Neighborhood Road where priests from St. John the Evangelist, Center Moriches, would celebrate Mass for the mission community. By 1949, Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Malloy saw the need for a separate parish and appointed Father John P. Skelly the first pastor.
The small church was overwhelmed during summer months when as many as 1,000 people would come to Mass, the majority standing outside the church on the two covered porches Father Skelly had built. He also started a campaign to build a parish auditorium/youth center which hosted parish functions and a roller rink for the growing community.
As the summer bungalows became year round residences and the community of Shirley was formed, the parish also grew. After the original auditorium burned down in 1972, a new parish center was built, which was to double as the main Sunday Mass site for many years. The wooden church, which still stands across from the parish center, was used mainly for daily Mass and on holy days.
During the pastorate of Father Joseph Mirro, a capital campaign was begun to build a new church large enough to house the congregation. The bright, white country church building was dedicated in March, 2001. A cross shaped sky light runs almost the length of the church. New stained glass windows represent the sacraments of initiation while a few pieces of stained glass from the original church provide continuity with the parish roots.
Current pastor, Father Gregory Yacyshyn, said the current congregation is made up of “good folks.” While there are a lot of people with needs, there is also a lot of generosity among the people. The parish outreach maintains a food pantry as well as providing other social services and a group of parishioners is in the process of restarting the local chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
In the early 1950s, Father Skelly erected a shrine to the parish patron on the property. Busloads of pilgrims from the city would come to pray at the shrine and attend Mass at the parish. Although they no longer come by the busload, people still come to the shrine day and night to seek the intercession of St. Jude, the patron of hopeless causes. The small shelter with kneelers and votives also has statues of other saints including the Blessed Mother, St. Rocco, patron of the sick, and St. Peregrine, patron of those suffering from cancer.
Father Yacyshyn hopes in the future to be able to refurbish the shrine, which is in need of repairs due to age. Meanwhile, the parish has just refinished parts of the parish center, removing the old altar and building classrooms for the religious education program which serves over 900 students.
In 1954, Father James Leone became the first parishioner ordained to the priesthood. Now a senior priest, Father Leone continues to celebrate Mass at St. Jude’s. The second parishioner ordained was Robert Guglielmone, now bishop of Charleston, South Carolina. Last spring, Bishop Guglielmone, who was director of religious education at the parish before entering the seminary, returned to the parish to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation.