On June 24, 1923, Patrick Cardinal Hayes established the parish of St. Anthony in Nepera Park and appointed Fr. John Murphy as the first pastor. His residence was at 78 Hearst Street, which stands to this day.
Legend has it that Fr. Murphy was walking his dog on North Broadway in 1926 and noticed that a Baptist Church was for sale. Realizing the need for another Catholic Church in North Yonkers, Father bought the property and became the founding pastor of Christ the King Church while remaining the pastor of St. Anthony’s until 1942 when Fr. Terrence Marshal was appointed pastor. In 1947, Fr. Andrew Donnelly succeeded Fr. Marshall, who was in poor health. In the next three years the outstanding debt was paid off, the mortgage papers burned, and a school fund was begun.
In 1949, Fr. Robert Woods became the new pastor. On March 21, 1951, a fire destroyed the interior of the church. Therefore, services for Holy Week and Easter were celebrated at the Colts Boys Club.
On September 17, 1951, the ground breaking ceremony for a new church took place on the same property: Hearst Street and Nepperhan Avenue. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen presided. In July 1952, it was decided to purchase a larger piece of property on Nepperhan Avenue between Squire Avenue and Jones Street. A church of Gothic design and a parish hall were built immediately; soon to follow were a rectory, convent, and school.
Mr. Shanley, the architect of the new church, purchased some colonnades of Romanesque design and these became the support for the main marble altar and the statues of the Sacred Heart and St. Joseph at the side entrances of the church. The main altar contains the relics of two early Roman martyrs. A mosaic cross is on the wall behind the main altar and six panels, three on each side, depict scenes that relate to each other from the Old and New Testaments
André Girard, a French Artist, painted the church windows. There are three panels in each window: the top panel relates to gospel scenes that St. Anthony preached about; the middle panel relates to martyrs because St. Anthony considered his destination in life to be that of a martyr; the bottom panel and incidents from St. Anthony’s life.
The stations of the cross were made in France out of two different metals.
The church was completed in 1953 and dedicated on September 12, 1954. Fr. James Riordan replaced Fr. Woods, who died in April 1954. In June 1956, Fr. William Cassidy replaced Fr. Riordan, who was appointed chaplain of St. Patrick’s Home. In August 1961, the ground was broken for rectory, convent, and first floor of a school. St. Anthony School opened in September 1962, under the direction of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkhill, and welcomed two hundred children. Soon to follow was the addition of another floor to the school, bringing the total number of classrooms to sixteen.
After a lengthy illness Msgr. Cassidy died in 1970. He was succeeded by Msgr. Richard Curtin, who had the sanctuary redesigned to meet the new liturgical requirements. In 1973, Cardinal Cooke presided at St. Anthony’s fiftieth anniversary Mass.
In 1981, Fr. Donald Hendricks succeeded Msgr. Curtin. He carried out many maintenance repairs on the church and school. In 1993, Msgr. Harold Robertson replaced Fr. Hendricks. Serving with Msgr. Robertson was Fr. Philip Gagliano, who was succeeded by Fr. John Fraser. Msgr. Robertson had the sanctuary wall painted in order to emphasize the Mosaic Cross, the bell tower was equipped with electric chimes, and the church was carpeted.
In July 1999, Fr. Karl Bauer succeeded Msgr. Robertson. Serving with Fr. Bauer was Fr. Kenneth Jesselli, who a year later was appointed as administrator to Holy Name of Mary Parish in Croton-on-Hudson. Replacing Fr. Jesselli was Fr. Robert Ashman. Fr. Bauer has been instrumental in beginning new programs and increasing membership in church ministries. New programs and/or committees were organized for RCIA, Prayer Group, Adult Religious Education. Participation in church ministries, such as lector and eucharistic minister, has increased greatly. And last but not least, this web site got off the ground.
St. Anthony’s Parish is vibrant with people who want to keep God’s Church alive in all areas of life. The parish has an active Parish Council, Finance, Liturgy, and Hospitality Committees, Holy Name and Altar Societies, and Fund Raisers. The Elementary Religious Education Program and St. Anthony School, along with the parents, are working to develop children who will be strong leaders in their Christian faith and Church.
[Excerpts taken from Diamond Jubilee 1923-1998: Church of St. Anthony]