Monroe County, Gates
310 Hinchey Rd.
Feb. 23, 1930 [mission], 1940 [parish]
Present church built:
Part of the Holy Family
Web site: http://www.gatescatholiccommunity.org/
St. Helen's was established as a mission church in 1930 by Bishop John Francis O'Hern, the third Bishop of Rochester.
The new mission church, dedicated February 2, 1930, was named in honor of the bishop's mother, Helen.
For the first ten years of its existence, St. Helen's
was visited by priests from St. Augustine in the city who would offer Mass and the Sacraments. It wasn't until 1940 that
the small community was elevated to a Parish and received its first resident Pastor, Fr. John Beecher Sullivan.
In 1956, the school building adjacent to the church was completed. Soon after, the parish raised $350,000 toward a
rectory and a new church to replace the small wooden church that was being used by the community. The priest had previously been living in the back of the church.
Construction on these projects began in 1959, and the present-day church was dedicated in June of 1962. A few years after moving into the new
church building, the founding Pastor, Fr. Sullivan, passed away. Msgr. Patrick Flynn was appointed in 1965 to succeed him. The 1960s saw
growth for the parish, and a number of activities such as the annual parish festival began around this time. By the early 1980s, the parish
had grown to 1,500 families.
During the pastorate of Fr. Michael Bausch, significant renovations were made to the church interior, including
a completely remodeled sanctuary with new liturgical furnishing. The two side altars were removed, as well as the mosaics on the walls
behind the side altars and main altar. A gathering space was constructed in front of the church.
It was announced by the diocese in November of 2004 that the parish school would be closed due to financial reasons. This news
was met with resistance by parishioners, who organized a grassroots effort to save the school and sent several letters to Bp. Matthew Clark
voicing their displeasure with the decision. Ultimately, the school was closed and today the former school building is rented out.
On June 23, 2007, the local Vietnamese Catholic community began to worship at St. Helen's. The community had previously
been worshipping at St. Anthony of Padua in the city, but the church was closed due to declining attendance and financial difficulties.
In June of 2010, St. Helen's would be clusted with nearby St. Jude the Apostle and Holy Ghost parishes as part of the Gates Catholic Community,
and would share priests with these two parishes. The parish is smaller today, as are many parishes in the diocese, but thanks to
the infusion of new parishioners from the Vietnamese community, there are now roughly 800 registered families at St. Helen's.