St. Mary’s has been blessed with a diverse and capable staff serving a multi-ethnic congregation in Lower Manhattan. Fr. Andrew O’Connor was made administrator of St. Mary’s August 1, 2013 and elevated to pastor April 2017. He succeeded Msgr. Neil Connolly who, by coincidence, was his first pastor here at St. Mary’s when he was first ordained in 1996.Msgr. Connolly had been pastor from 1984. Fr. O’Connor isa sculptor and visual artist. He completed the Varela Mandorla in 2014, The Gentle Rain of Mercy in 2016, and completed Lux Mundi the doors of the church 2021.
Photo by Alex M. Smith
Having the anti-Catholic “Know Nothing” party burn down our church in 1831 on Sheriff Street “100 feet north of Broome Street” helped give birth to a new church on Grand Street. Saint Mary Grand signifies that it is the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the Archdiocese of New York as much as it identifies us as on Grand Street, a street in colonial times was the road to Crown Point; ferry service to Brooklyn and that from Hoboken were linked by what became Grand Street. Our church purchased the present site, the highest elevation in Lower Manhattan, from the former mayor of New York, Mayor Allen. Our story is still unfolding as a grand story…
Founded on Sheriff Street in May of 1826. It is said that
the first parishioners came from Ireland via a boat from Argentina. Fr. Hatton Walsh, the first pastor wrote a 13 page homily dedicating the church to Our Lady and praising God for sanctuary from religious persecution. Penal Laws in Ireland did not end until the emancipation of catholics in 1829. Among things illegal for catholics in the penal code included possessing bells for worship. This was the first acquisition of Saint Mary’s after purchasing a small cladded church from the 7th Presbyterian Church. The photo gallery below is contained in our library. Please visit Saint Mary’s to learn more about our history and the history of the Lower East Side.
The Bell of Saint Mary’s is the first bell hung in a Catholic Church in New York.
It rings once a day at noon and on Pentecost for as many years as we have assembled as a community (get ready fora long wait). It is a call to prayer and to spread good will to the community. The angel referred to in the prayer is Gabriel who revealed to Mary that she would conceive a child to be born the son of God (Luke 1:26-38)
The Bell is suppressed during Lent until the Gloria on the Easter Vigil. Like not eating meat on Fridays in Lent, this is a religious nod to silence and contemplation of the mysteries of the passion of Christ.
Father Andrew O’Conner
Members and guests of the community are invited to ring the bell in a spirit of prayer and thanksgiving. Please call or stop by the rectory to secure a reservation. There is no fee for this. Call (212) 674-3266
Are you looking for an ancestor who lived on the Lower East Side? Saint Mary’s Church maintains sacramental records dating from the early 1800’s. Please fill out the General Inquiry Form and someone will get back to you to begin the process. There is $50 fee for each inquiry. An inquiry constitutes one name and sacramental information thereof.
Please fill out general inquiry form to start your research process.
The Grand Hall is a state of the art 9000square feet event space which can accommodate parties up to 200 persons. This space is perfect for wedding receptions, graduation and anniversary parties, photo shoots. This space is also available to Film and Production companies for craft service. Please fill out general inquiry form for pricing and availability.
Saint Mary Grand will celebrate its Bicentennial Anniversary on Pentecost Sunday, May 26, 2026