Jamaica, New York Historical Summary
In early 1924, the Passionists established Immaculate Conception Church in Jamaica Estates, Queens, and began a laymen’s retreat league, thus inaugurating the community’s mission and presence in Queens, New York City. By late 1924 a temporary frame parish church was built on the grounds of the former Degnon Estate. By 1929 a permanent structure was erected. In 1962, this structure became the basement church when the new church was dedicated. The school, staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, New York, opened in 1938. Through the years the Passionists, with religious women from several congregations and dedicated laity, have continued the mission of the parish to a culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse urban community.
The monastery community and the retreat ministry shared quarters in the old Degnon mansion until 1930 when the monastery was completed. That year the monastery began to serve as a house of studies, and did so until 1981. At present, itinerant preachers, hospital chaplains, a university professor, and several other ministers live at the monastery.
As the monastery’s red tile roof has dominated the neighborhood architecturally, so the ministry of the Passionists there has impacted the lives of the people of Queens in countless ways. Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group has been meeting for 54 years. The monastery is also home to an active Confraternity of the Passion and a Padre Pio prayer group. Recently, an Internet Confraternity has been launched.
In 1953, a 74-room retreat house was completed and the retreat ministry, which had become known as the Bishop Molloy Retreat House, moved out of the Degnon mansion. In 1959 the retreat house was expanded, bringing the capacity to over 100 rooms. This ministry has made its mark on the metropolitan community over the years. One can find evidence of this on the wall of the nearby city subway stop on 178th Street, where a sign for the retreat house is part of the original tile work. Today, programs at Bishop Molloy include recovery programs, hosted events, lectures, special theme retreats, and days and evenings of reflection.
Immaculate Conception continues to be a Passionist center of hospitality in the New York City area.