St. Joseph’s Breaks Ground on New Church in Somers
By MARY ANN POUST
Chris Sheridan
An artist's rendering of the new church.

After years of squeezing into a tiny church, and scheduling Masses at three other locations to accommodate its 2,800 families, St. Joseph’s in Croton Falls is finally getting a brand-new church—large enough to serve the entire parish in the same place—in a complex that includes offices, meeting rooms and more.

A groundbreaking was held June 1 for the new facility, which is already under construction on land acquired from the archdiocese on a former baseball field of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers.

Auxiliary Bishop Dominick J. Lagonegro, episcopal vicar of Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Northern Westchester/Putnam, presided at the ceremony along with the pastor, Msgr. James R. Moore, and priests who serve the parish.

“Basically, the people in the parish will be able to worship together, as opposed to being so segmented, the way we are now,” said Richard Casterella, the parish business manager.

“Our church holds only 199 people,” he said. “We can’t even accommodate large funerals.”

The new 30,000-square foot complex will include a church that seats 800 people, a chapel for daily Mass that seats 80, a hall for social events, two meeting rooms, parish offices and priests’ residences.

Casterella pointed out that the worship spaces will combine the old with the new.

“All of the liturgical furnishings from our present church—the statues, the altar, all the stained glass—will be in the daily Mass chapel,” he said.

In addition, he said, the parish acquired the “spectacular” stained-glass windows and marble altar from the former St. Ann’s Church on East 12th Street in Manhattan, and has purchased a pipe organ from a Christian Science church in Washington, D.C.

The $20 million project will be funded from a number of sources, including the sale of two parish chapels where weekend Masses are currently held: St. Michael’s in Goldens Bridge and St. John’s in North Salem. Weekend Masses also are currently held in the main church at 10 Croton Falls Road and in the school auditorium.

No decision has yet been made on the future of the main church and rectory, however. And although St. Joseph’s School is slated to close at the end of the current academic year, the school building at 14 Croton Falls Road will remain in parish hands for the religious education program, which has 1,100 students enrolled, Casterella said.

The project first came under discussion in the parish and at the archdiocesan level at least five years ago, Casterella said. It was approved after a feasibility study conducted by the archdiocese, he said.

To go forward, however, the parish had to replace the baseball field at Kennedy Catholic High School in order to gain the school’s agreement. As a result, St. Joseph’s built three new fields for the high school—a baseball field, a softball field and a soccer/lacrosse field.

“It’s taken us five years to do all that, but we’re getting there,” Casterella said.

The project is expected to be completed in 18-24 months.

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