On any given Sunday, about 120 faithful file into Our Lady of Mercy Chapel, a mission church in Roseton in Orange County, to participate in the 9:30 a.m. Mass, the only regularly scheduled weekend Mass.
“It’s a great mission church,” said Father Thomas Dicks, pastor of St. Mary’s, Marlboro-St. James, Milton, of which Our Lady of Mercy Chapel is a part.
Auxiliary Bishop Dominick Lagonegro offered Mass at Our Lady of Mercy on Oct. 23 for the closing of its 125th anniversary year. Father Dicks was the concelebrant.
“The people there are very friendly and really keep the mission church alive,” Father Dicks told CNY, describing it as a “tremendous place of faith” for the people and one that has “a wonderful history, too.”
“It’s a very quaint church on the inside,” Father Dicks said. “It’s a nice place to pray and worship on Sundays.”
“People come there all the time to take pictures,” especially of the exterior, the pastor said. Through the years, others have come to paint pictures of the chapel at 994 River Road that is “nestled within woods.”
The families who attend are of Hungarian descent, as well as Irish, Polish and Italian, among other nationalities, the pastor said. “It’s a real mixture of people, which is what a parish should be.”
“They just love the Church,” he said. “Everybody knows each other.”
A number who attend Our Lady of Mercy come from families who have worshipped at the chapel since it first opened its doors.
The stately brick structure was built under the direction of the renowned Juan Jacinta Jova, a devout Catholic who was born and raised in Cuba.
Jova opened a brickyard in Roseton in 1885, employing many of the Irish and Hungarian Catholics in the area, according to the parish history. By 1887, Jova bricks were being used throughout New York City to build both public and private buildings.
Known for the initials J.J.J. emblazoned on his work, Jova brick was used to build Our Lady of Mercy and later, St. Mary’s in Marlboro.
Our Lady of Mercy was completed in 1891, “beautifully rendered in the rustic style of Hungarian-Slavonic churches,” states the parish history. “With its beautiful altars and pillars of darkened wood and with the reproduction of Murillo’s ‘Assumption’ adorning the sanctuary wall, the little country church was presented by the Jovas as a gift to the Archdiocese of New York and the hardworking brick workers of Roseton.
“The Jova brickyards are gone and also most of the original hamlet of Roseton,” continues the parish history. But an enduring legacy of the Jovas and the people of Roseton remains as a testament of faith: “Our Lady of Mercy Church still stands” and “the little church has preserved the rustic peace and spiritual purpose for which it was first built.”
The parish history chronicles the mission church’s present day as such: “For the most part, Our Lady of Mercy sits quietly with only the inhabitants of the surrounding wooded area scurrying in preparation for the winter months or enjoying the bountifulness of the warm weather months.
“But on Sunday morning between 8:30 and 9:00, a click can be heard as one of the faithful parishioners unlocks the front doors for Mass at 9:30. Doors are opened, lights are turned on, ushers set up, the music ministry arrives to prepare for the service and once again the church comes alive!”