Highly Regarded Local Church to Celebrate Its Demisesquicentennial Anniversary
Our Lady of Victory Church, at the corner of William and Pine Streets, in the Financial District.
A Lower Manhattan landmark will mark its 75th anniversary tomorrow (Saturday, June 25), when Our Lady of Victory Church (located at 60 William Street) celebrates a special Mass, featuring Archbishop and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, along with the Church’s pastor, Father Myles Murphy.
“Our Lady of Victory is a commuter church for observant Catholics in the financial services industry,” observes Father Murphy. “But as Lower Manhattan has evolved over recent decades into a residential community, we have more and more become a parish where people live, as well as worship. We still have legions of parishioners who work nearby but live elsewhere, and consider our church to be their ‘spiritual home away from home.’”
Father Murphy, who has led Our Lady of Victory (along with its sister parish, St. Andrew’s, located near Police Headquarters) for six years, notes that, “during the pandemic, there were many people who were angry and upset, hurt and vulnerable. For any priest, requests for prayers on behalf of somebody a parishioner loves are part of the daily routine. But during the pandemic, those requests were coming in practically all day long.”
During those difficult times, he says, “our goal remained constant—to make God increasingly known and loved through Our Lady. This needs to be heard and reiterated. Our message is to encourage people to turn toward and to trust in God, to believe in and to rely on God.”
“So many parishioners have reached out to me in the months since,” he reflects, “and said that Our Lady of Victory was a beacon that sustained them when everything else seemed to disappear. Although we had to suspend in-person Mass for several months, during the worst of the pandemic, we never closed the church. Confessions were still being heard. And it was always available as a place of solace and contemplation.”
Our Lady of Victory is a house of worship steeped in local history. Commissioned during World War Two by the legendary Francis Cardinal Spellman (who served as New York’s Archbishop as well as Apostolic Vicar for the U.S. Armed Forces), construction on the elegant Georgian brick structure began at a moment when American victory in the ongoing conflict was far from certain.
The land, at the corner of William and Pine Streets, was donated by Edward Bowes, the celebrity impresario behind the Major Bowes Amateur Hour. Although largely forgotten today, Bowes was the Simon Cowell of his day, presiding over a radio (and later television) series that riveted tens of millions of Americans each week and made him fabulously wealthy. (Bowes was identified by the Treasury Department in 1937 as having the sixth-highest personal income of anyone in America.) There is some debate about whether he ever actually earned the military rank of “major,” but Bowes was so beloved and powerful in his time that few thought it wise to question him too closely on this point. Among the future stars who appeared on his show as young unknowns were Frank Sinatra, Gladys Knight, Beverly Sills, and Redd Foxx. In his spare time, Bowes was also a serial philanthropist and benefactor of various religious institutions, gifting a dozen 40-foot trees to the gardens beside St. Patrick Cathedral in 1939, and donating his palatial estate in Ossining as a Lutheran retreat center.
Even in the 1940s, however, land was at a premium in Manhattan’s Financial District, which resulted in a unique design: the rectory of Our Lady of Victory is perched atop the Church, rather than alongside it, as is the case for most parishes.
That iconic presence will soon receive an upgrade. “We think of this project as more of a restoration than a modernization,” Father Murphy notes. “Our goal is to make Our Lady of Victory a destination for visitors to Lower Manhattan, in the same way they they come Downtown to see Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, or Federal Hall and the World Trade Center.”
This incipient renaissance will be presided over by Father Murphy, who was recently appointed by Cardinal Dolan to a second, six-year term as the leader of both Our Lady of Victory and St. Andrew’s.
Further attesting to Our Lady of Victory’s status as an inextricable part of local history and Lower Manhattan’s streetscape is that the New York Stock Exchange has invited Father Murphy to ring its opening bell on behalf of the church, on Friday, July 1. This is an honor usually reserved for titans of industry, heads of state, or universally admired celebrities. “They extended the invitation,” Father Murphy notes with quiet pride, “because, they said, Our Lady of Victory is a pillar of the community.”
Battery Park City resident (and Our Lady of Victory parishioner) Maria Smith says the church, “has been a beacon of light for me. As a practicing Catholic, I was devastated when Mass was suspended during COVID. If anything, it was the one thing people needed to get through that awful time. Once churches reopened, little by little the congregation at Our Lady of Victory grew. To Father Murphy’s credit, he never left the Financial District area, and parishioners knew it was not ‘if’ but ‘when’ we would celebrate Mass together again. I am so thankful for this gem of a church and look forward to celebrating the 75th Anniversary with his Eminence Cardinal Dolan.”
The Mass in celebration at the 75th anniversary of Our Lady of Victory will begin at 4:15pm tomorrow. It will be a followed by a reception and dinner nearby. All parishioners and friends of Our Lady of Victory and St. Andrew are invited, but anyone planning on attending is asked to RSVP in advance by emailing parishmail@OLVSTA.org.
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This tour explores Battery Park City’s southern district, which is home to the Skyscraper Museum and includes some of BPC’s earliest landscapes and infrastructure, including the residential enclaves built in the 1990s that followed the 1979 Cooper Eckstut Master Plan. We will visit historic Pier A, Wagner Park, and South Cove, as well as the green spaces that connect to the Esplanade, the first waterfront park in New York since the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade in 1951. We will also learn about the Resilience Action Plan of the BPC Authority. Free.
Enjoy this nostalgic celebration of the summer solstice. Join in lively dance around the Midsummer pole. Make wreaths from beautiful flowers representing those in bloom on the solstice in Sweden. Enjoy a parade, children’s games, and Swedish delicacies. Free.
National Museum of the American Indian, Diker Pavilion
Film screening; part of the 9th Americas Film Festival New York. Two radically opposed women divide the community into two fractions over the issue of alcohol in the community and come face-to-face with each other. A conversation with director, Caroline Monnet, follows the film. Free.
Paint in watercolor or use pastels and other drawing materials to capture the vistas of the Hudson River and the unique landscape of South Cove. An artist will help participants of all levels with instruction. Materials provided. Free.
Have coffee with the captain and crew of the schooner Apollonia, which docks here once a month to unload goods from upstate New York. Talk about modern sail-freight, historical connections, navigation, and sustainable shipping, and perhaps make some purchases. Free.
Visit Lilac, America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender. A retired Coast Guard cutter that carried supplies to lighthouses and maintained buoys from 1933 to 1972, Lilac is now a museum ship open for tours, exhibits and events while undergoing restoration. Free.
Breathe is the creation of trombonist/composer Craig Harris, who uses art to promote change. Breathe is performed by a large ensemble of musicians making a sonic statement in response to the long- term and current injustices inflicted upon African American people. Free.
To mark the 130th anniversary of the birth of Pearl Buck, a legendary American writer and humanitarian, the Renwen Society presents a lecture by Prof. Wang Fengzhen, the Chinese translator of Buck’s “Good Earth.” Prof. Wang will relate to the audience Pearl Buck’s life stories in China and her literary contributions through her Good Earth and other books. Free.
Dance that happens on a field in the sunshine next to another dance that happens inside a room, overlooking a river at sunset. It is a dance created between performers opal ingle, Joey Kipp and Jennifer Kjos, in partnership with choreographer Heather Kravas. Featuring an electro-acoustic score by composer Zeena Parkins. Free.
Dance that happens on a field in the sunshine next to another dance that happens inside a room, overlooking a river. It is a dance created between performers opal ingle, Joey Kipp and Jennifer Kjos, in partnership with choreographer Heather Kravas. One dance contemplates a shape made between two people so that we might also consider the distance between them. The other reflects a line as two people travel and change together. Featuring an electro-acoustic score by composer Zeena Parkins. Also at 8pm. Free.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn… that’s their order outward from the sun, and it’s the order you’ll see June’s planetary lineup, stretched across our morning sky (Earth is situated between Venus and Mars). See all five planets with the unaided eye until Mercury slips away in the morning twilight in early July.