Holy Rosary Church

Holy Rosary parish traces its origins back to the year 1889 when Bishop McQuaid organized a “mission parish,” initially under the spiritual care of the Cathedral parish (then St. Patrick’s Cathedral) in that part of the city known as “Glenwood.” From an initial group of about 89 Catholic families, sufficient support was found to lay the cornerstone of the first church in 1890. That first church was a simple wooden structure, but provided an initial home for the first generation of Holy Rosary parishioners. The mission was elevated to official parish status in 1896 with Father John Van Ness appointed as its first residential pastor.

In 1904, a second church was built—this one of stone—as a combination church/school building. Under Bishop McQuaid, this multi-use building model was customary in many Rochester parishes as it demonstrated McQuaid’s commitment to Catholic education, and allowed parishes time to grow and save fund before building a larger and more permanent church structure.

But the rapid growth of Holy Rosary parish meant that parishioners did not have to wait long. In 1916, the parish broke ground on the third and final Holy Rosary church. The construction plans were for two buildings, a church and matching rectory, both built in a Spanish mission style (rather unique to the Diocese) and connected by a cloister-style walkway. The church was dedicated by Bishop Thomas Hickey on May 21, 1916.

This church building remains standing to this day. Significant interior decoration was added in 1927. This remained in place until 1961-1962 when the church was remodeled to include a new main altar and two new side altars (all of marble), a bronze baldachin capping the high altar which is loosely based on a design from the Cathedral in Girona, Spain, and a large oil painting replica of the famous Our Lady of the Rosary image originally painted by Ferrato.

Holy Rosary church was officially closed in 2008. It currently houses Mary’s Place refugee outreach.


For historic images of Holy Rosary church, click HERE.