One day almost 30 years ago, Alfred Blaikie found relief from the whirlwind of the Financial District in Manhattan by stepping into Our Lady of Victory Church. He now regularly attends weekday Mass during his lunch hour at a church that marked its 75th anniversary at a Mass Cardinal Dolan offered June 25.
“One day, I was feeling down,” Blaikie, a media consultant in the Financial District and parishioner of St. James in Red Bank, N.J., told CNY. “I was walking by the church and I went in. The chaos of the Financial District and everything that goes on there, I found peace.
“I sat there and found out there was a Mass at lunchtime. I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to start coming here to church.’ Mass is only a half hour. So you can go out to get lunch and go to Mass. It felt so good.”
Our Lady of Victory Church, founded by Cardinal Spellman in 1944, serves the residential and business communities in the Financial District. Known as the War Memorial Church, the current church opened in 1947 on land donated by Major Edward Bowes with a quote at the front door from Cardinal Spellman.
It states, “This Holy Shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Victory in Thanksgiving for Victory won by our Valiant dead, our soldier’s blood, our Country’s tears, shed to defend men’s rights and win back men’s hearts to God.”
In 2015, Our Lady of Victory merged with St. Andrew, a church established in 1843 near New York City Police Department headquarters, as part of the archdiocese’s Making All Things New pastoral planning initiative. The Sisters of Life, founded by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1991, have been using St. Andrew Convent since 2018 to serve women who are pregnant and their families at their Visitation mission. It’s one of seven convents the Sisters of Life use to carry out their mission in the New York area.
St. Andrew Church is currently closed, but Father Myles Murphy, the parish’s pastor, said he is hopeful of reopening the church in the future, if warranted.
Father Murphy began his second six-year term as pastor this month.
“I’m very happy and excited about it,” Father Murphy said. “We’re in the business of being positive and looking forward and not back and down. This is what Christ was about. As priests, we follow in His footsteps and do likewise.
“The word of God has been handed down to us for a reason. Life as it is does not end, it’s a new beginning with almighty God.”
Father Murphy added that churchgoers at Our Lady of Victory are committed to the Church and the sacraments, and noted that unlike the bustling Financial District, people are not hurried at Our Lady of Victory.
“They’re in a rush to get in and not in a rush to get out,” he said. “People like to linger at Our Lady of Victory.”
Father Lino Gonsalves, who is in residence, assists Father Murphy at Our Lady of Victory.
Masses are celebrated Sunday at 10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.; Monday through Friday at 8:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m.; and on holy days of obligation at 8:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.
Confessions are Monday through Friday, 12:45-1:15 p.m., and Sunday, 11:15 a.m.-noon.
The 75th anniversary Mass with Cardinal Dolan, a rare Saturday Mass at Our Lady of Victory, was followed by a reception at 48 Wall Street Events.
“It was amazing,” Joanne DeCarlo said. “The cardinal delivered such a beautiful sermon. It was a beautiful Mass.
“The cardinal is amazing, very friendly and really cares about people. He stops and listens to everybody. I wish he’d come back all the time.”
Ms. DeCarlo resides near the church and has been attending Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Victory for about four years. She said she enjoyed the church community that was coming together before the Covid pandemic and is hopeful it will return.
“He’s a leader,” she said of Father Murphy. “I don’t think the church would be open if he wasn’t there. He rallied and led the fight to keep people coming back and acknowledge the church is there.
“It’s a little jewel in the Financial District. He’s polished it up and made it a community.”