Saint Angela Merici
Saint Angela Merici, the patroness of the parish, was born in
Desenzano, Italy in 1474. The house in which she was born is
till standing. It is marked by plaque, which states that
Angela Merici who founded the Order of Saint Ursula, and died
in Brescia in 1540, was born in the house in 1474 on the
second floor. Her Father, Thomas Merici, was a highly esteemed
landowner in the lake Garda District. Her mother was a member
of prosperous Biancosi family, merchants in Salo. Angela spent
her childhood at Grezze, the family farm near Desenzano. The
estate is still a working farm today.
Shortly before her death in 1540, one of Angela’s good friends
asked her for a spiritual testament. She advised: “Do in life
what you would wish to have done at the hour of death.”
St. Angela Merici Parish
In September of 1899, Archbishop Corrigan asked Father Thomas
Wallace to establish a parish in the Borough of Bronx. Father
Wallace was appointed pastor on September 18, 1899. Morris
Place and Helen Street, now known as Morris Avenue and 163rd
Street, was the location chosen for the church. Since Father
Wallace had two sisters who were Ursulines he had no
difficulty deciding on a name for the new parish. The first
mass was said in a private house near 158th Street and Morris
Avenue. The first child baptized in the church was William
Cochran. He was born on November 20, 1899, and baptized by
Father Wallace on December 3, 1899. The first couple married
in the parish was Lawrence Moran and Mary Barnes. They were
married on February 11, 1900.
The original Saint Angela’s church was a small wooden building
on the site of the present church. The first mass was
celebrated there on June 24, 1900. The rectory was located on
Morris Avenue between 162nd and 163rd Streets. The small
parish hall, on the Grant Avenue side of the church, housed
the first school.
St. Angela Merici School
Religious education has always been very important at Saint
Angela’s. Before the parish school was established in 1904,
Ursulines came on Sundays to give religious instruction. Once
the school was begun, the Ursulines were invited to teach and
Mother Alphonsus, one of Father Wallace’s sisters, became the
first principal. She was principal for ten years. The school
has an enrollment of over 500 students.
Pastors of the Church of St. Angela Merici
In 1974 St. Angela’s parish celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Father William Reisig was the pastor and he had three
assistants. The present pastor, Father Peter Barjacoba, is the
only priest assigned to the parish. He is also the chaplain
for Lincoln Hospital. Father Peter was born in Spain and spent
several years in the Philippines. He was appointed pastor on
July 1, 1990 and his appointment has been a great gift to the
founding members of the association for South Bronx Catholic
Schools. Its aim is to support the six member schools which
are educating over 3,000 students. St. Angela’s has an
enrollment of over 550 students. This represents an increase
of 100 students in the past two years.
Father Barjacoba is strongly committed to the continued
success of St. Angela’s school. He is joined in the
determination to provide a quality Catholic education to the
children of the parish by the principal, Patrick F. Kelly. Mr.
Kelly became principal in august of 1992.
At this time there are approximately 350 families in the
parish. Among the active parish societies are the Holy Name
Society (which had its first meeting on January 21, 1900), the
Charismatic, the Curcillistas, the daughters of Mary, the
Helping Hands (a group involved in fund raising for the
parish) and the League of the Sacred Heart. The school has a
Parent/ Guardian association which coordinates volunteer
efforts and assists in fund raising.
PASTORS OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI
Rev. Thomas W. Wallace Sept. 18, 1899 –Sept. 5, 1913 R.I.P.
Rev. Michael J. Mulhern Nov. 17, 1913 – July 14, 1919 R.I.P.
Rev. Charles H. McAuliffe, ADM. 1917-1918
Rev. John J. Harrington Sept. 5, 1919 – Dec. 6, 1935 RIP
Rev. Patrick J. Mee. ADM. 1935 – 1936
Rev. Joseph A. Foley Jan. 24, 1936 – Dec. 4, 1950 RIP
(Msgr. Nov. 29, 1947)
Rev. Thomas L. McKenna Jan. 1951 – Nov. 6, 1952
Msgr. Edward R. Martin Jan. 6, 1952 – Sept. 2, 1967
Pastor Emeritus R.I.P Sept. 6, 1967
Rev. Philip P. Shannon Sept. 2, 1967 – June 26, 1971
Rev. William E. Reisig Aug. 14, 1971 – Aug. 2, 1978
Rev. Patrick V. McNamara Sep. 8, 1978- July 1, 1980
Rev. Peter Barjacoba July 1, 1990 – Sept. 1996
Rev. Carlos Mullius Sept. 1996 - 1997
Rev. Conlow Timothy Aug. 1997- Sept. 2000
Rev. Peter Mushi, AJ Nov. 15, 2000 - 2009
Rev. Nestorio Agirembabazi, AJ, 2009 to present. Church and School Building
The present church and school building was opened in 1924.
Like any building that has been in constant use for 70years,
it needs a great deal of expensive repair.
COMMENT: As with so many saints, history is mostly
concerned with their activities. But we must always presume
deep Christian faith and love in one whose courage lasts a
lifetime, and who can take bold new steps when human need
QUOTE: In a time when change is problematic to many, it
may be helpful to recall a statement this great leader made to
her sisters: “If according to times and needs you should be
obliged to make fresh rules and change certain things, do it
with prudence and good advice”