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Our Lady of Fatima R. C. Church

by Sophia Lian

It wasn’t until 1903 that the residents of what was known as the Cow Neck Peninsula could attend mass without having to leave town every week. In the early 19th century, to attend Sunday Mass, Catholics had to go to church in Flushing. Then, in 1857, these residents could go to a closer church, St. Mary’s in Manhasset, and soon after, St. Mary’s in Roslyn was founded.  However, only after 1900 did Bishop McDonnell of Brooklyn determine that it was time for the Catholics of Port Washington to have their own church for the community. This was followed by the construction of the church on Harbor Acres with the labor of mostly Italian immigrants.


The Church of St. Peter of Alcantara celebrated its first mass on September 6th, 1903, as the earliest church on the Cow Neck Peninsula. Soon after, more religious buildings were constructed for the residents of Cow Neck to practice their faith, including the second church: Our Lady of Fatima R.C. Church in Manorhaven.

The beginning of the second church was as a mission chapel for the Church of St. Peter of Alcantara. Gas rationing during World War II was making it difficult for residents in Manorhaven to travel the distance to attend. A group of women known as the Ladies Guild raised money for five years to purchase property and to build the current church through bazaars and other forms of fund-raising activities. With the help of Mr. and Mrs. Leeds and Manorhaven residents who were St. Peter's parishioners, a neatly decorated chapel was created to be utilized by those who lived in Manorhaven. The goals of these women were achieved. The mission chapel held its first Mass on Palm Sunday, April 18, 1943.

On June 5, 1948, Our Lady of Fatima separated from St. Peter’s with Rev. Joseph McGoldrich as the first head of the new church. Our Lady of Fatima was officially recognized as a parish by the Diocese of Brooklyn on July 11, 1948. Father Joseph McGoldrich led the young church in its first six years before Father Leonard Pavone took over the church. He made significant contributions to the premise of the church seen today. Modifying the warehouse on the other side of the street, he turned it into a Youth Center that is still being used as a Parish Center. To raise money for this expansion, Father Pavone started an annual festive tradition that lasted more than 30 years in an empty space near the current Soundview shopping complex and he sponsored operas held in the auditorium at Weber.

The church still stands today at Cottonwood Road and Manorhaven Boulevard, where the residents of Manorhaven continue to come to worship and celebrate. In the past few decades, Our Lady of Fatima has not only assisted parishioners in their spiritual paths but also contributed to helping the individuals in the community. Notably, their food pantry provides service to around 125 families in need in the Manorhaven and Manhasset Isle areas year-round. They make this possible by working closely with donation organizations such as Plant a Row for the Hungry, The Dodge House, Grassroots, and Our Harvest, which provide fresh produce. During holidays, the church thinks of the community by hosting community events to spread the spirit of giving. The OLF Parish Outreach is a community event where Port Washington residents donate and distribute Thanksgiving food baskets that are assembled by the church's volunteers.


Over the years, in addition to their social ministry, they have had an active choir, pastoral committee, and other advisory groups for their active community. Restoration work, clothing drives, parish festivals and dinners, Spanish masses, bereavement support, youth nights, family time, and many more events have been ongoing at Our Lady of Fatima, where they look to make everyone feel welcome.


Next time you pass the church, you may find yourself appreciating the church’s history and its importance to parishioners.

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