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History of Saint Daniels

History of Saint Daniels


In February 19, 1933 the air echoed with the first celebrated mass of this 129th parish of the diocese of Syracuse, New York. A year prior, St. Daniel's was born out of the need to expand from St. John the Baptist Church on Park and Court Streets. Boundary lines were established for this newly formed parish. It would expand north and partly northwest to run parallel with St. Margaret's parish in Mattydale and on the remaining north, south, east and west sides the boundaries would extend to a small section of Court Street, Cowie Avenue, Harding Street, upper Wadsworth to Grant Boulevard, North Avenue and as far as Thompson Road.

This out-mission of St. John's would be the last official act initiated by Bishop Daniel J. Curley before his death and would become his namesake. Both Bishop Curley and the Vicar General Doody approved financing that would come from the Charity Funds used by the various pastors. A note was drafted for Monsignor McEvoy with an undetermined amount, in that, the total sum for building the church was not yet determined. The actual amount borrowed would be $30,000.

The Lyncourt area would finally have its own parish. The Rev. Msgr. Charles F. McEvoy was assigned as guardian of the small mission. It would take great courage on the part of the parishioners to undertake the building of their parish since it was at the height of the Depression.

Ground was broken under the directorship of Architect Paul Hueber, Sr. Soon afterwards the non-faced cinder block structure was not only to become a mission church, but eventually became established as a parish with a residential pastor under the leadership of Bishop Walter A. Foery. Unfortunately, many of the statistics regarding the actual construction of the original church were destroyed by summer flooding that often filled the rectory basement with water and debris.

On July 20, 1939 Bishop Foery appointed the Rev. Denis F. Lyons first Pastor of St. Daniel's. The trustees at that time were Frank Carroll and Charles Dussing. It was at this point that the out-mission became a permanent parish and St. Daniel's was established as the 129"' parish of the diocese. Being predominantly German and Irish, the enrollment had grown to approximately 600 members. Since that era St. Daniel's has grown to over 1200 members. That small cinder block structure would remain the home of St. Daniel's parish until 1966 when the expanding enrollment demanded the need for a larger structure.

On March 1, 1966 work began on the construction of the new and present church. Architects Pederson, Hueber, Hares and Glavin, J.A. Vault Inc.. were responsible for the innovative design of our present church. The original stained glass windows were used to enhance the stylistic design of the existing windows, blending the two eras together. The modernistic marble altar sits upon the original altar site. St. Daniel's mission church still echoes gently within the walls of this young expanding parish. The total cost of this structure, which seats 740, was $500,000.

On April 26, 1967 the Most Rev. Bishop Walter A. Foery dedicated the new church. Fr. Denis F. Lyons was the Celebrant of the Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving, assisted by the Most Rev. David F. Cunningham and members of the clergy. From the time that the permanent parish was established in 1939, St. Daniel's has benefited and grown through the leadership and guidance of three Pastors: Rev. Denis F. Lyons, Rev. James F. Gillen and presently Rev. Msgr. Eugene M. Yennock.


The Rev. Denis F. Lyons was a native of Limerick, Ireland. He attended St. Munchin's College and St. John's Seminary in Ireland. He also attended Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri and was ordained on May 29, 1926 at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Albany. During his term the new church and school were constructed. His foresight in establishing Catholic education for the Lyncourt area was the planting of the seed for a school and permanent residence for the Sisters. His hard work and dedication were the building blocks of the strong family unit that is evident in our parish today. Fr. Lyons died on May 19, 1969.

The successor to Fr. Lyons was the Rev. James F. Gillen, a native of Oswego, New York. He attended St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, then St. Bernard Seminary in Rochester, N.Y. He was ordained March 17, 1945. He served at St. Daniel's from 1969 to 1981. Fr. Gillen had a great appreciation for music and shared this love by donating the organ to the church.

Msgr. Yennock was born in Syracuse and attended St. Andrew and St. Bernard seminaries in Rochester, New York. He was ordained at Our Lady of Pompeii on June 3, 1950 by his cousin, the Most Rev. Raffaello Delle Nocche, Bishop of Tricarico, Italy. Fr, Yennock's first assignment was Assistant Pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Fulton, New York. From 1966, he also served as Pastor of St. Peter Church, Oswego. In 1971 he was named Pastor of Our Lady of Angels Church in Endwell, N.Y. and in December of that year Pope Paul VI designated him a domestic prelate of the Church with the title of Reverend Monsignor. From 1979 to 1981, Msgr. Yennock served as Episcopal Vicar of the southern region of the Diocese of Syracuse while residing at St. Paul Rectory in Binghamton, N.Y. He has also served as Chaplain to the Catholic Daughters of the Americas in the Fulton, Oswego and New York State Courts.

On June 15, 1981 Msgr. Yennock was appointed as the third pastor of St. Daniel Church. During his tenure, he has overseen the commencement of Perpetual Adoration in the convent chapel, the renovation of the convent to include Pre-K facilities, the installation of new stained glass windows in the church vestibules and the development of Fr. Lyons Hall. During his time at St. Daniel's Msgr. Yennock has performed over 500 Baptisms, given hundreds of children First Holy Communion, witnessed over 200 marriages, heard thousands of confessions and administered anointing of the sick to many people. He continues to inspire parishioners with his homilies and teaching and is well known throughout the region for the annual blessing of the bikers.

Monsignor's desire when he first came to St. Daniel's 21 years ago was to make the parish a close-knit family. He initially did this by meeting with families in their homes to listen to their concerns. To this day this family spirit remains evident in our parish. We are not only blessed with a vibrant Catholic school , but by many vocations to the priesthood.


A profound silence must have filled Fr. Lyons as he walked the halls the night before St. Daniel's School was to be dedicated. November 22, 1953 would be the day remembered by not only Fr. Lyons and Fr. J. McCloskey, but by all the parishioners who saw the dream of their own parish school dedicated by Bishop Walter A. Foery.

It was the beginning of an era of Catholic education for this growing community. This structure had the capacity to house 450 students with the capability to expand to 800 students and a second floor. Eight classrooms with eight alternate rooms were the beginnings and in 1959 a gymnasium was added, which served many purposes in the years to follow.

Plans were drawn to house the Sisters of St. Francis from the Motherhouse on Court Street. No longer would they have to travel three times a week to give catechistical instructions. They were to become the residential teaching staff of St. Daniel's School. On May 14, 1954 the construction of the convent was completed and five Sisters were assigned to the new school. The opening enrollment was 212 children from Kindergarten through 6" grade. In later years Grades 7 and 8 were added and the teaching staff grew.

Though the enrollment has fluctuated through the years, it has never ceased. Even though the decline of Catholic school enrollment throughout our nation and diocese caused St. Daniel's School to adjust back to K - 6`" grade, it still thrives on the determination and dreams of those original parishioners.


Built on the leadership and determination of a parish destined to grow, St. Daniel's foundation was held together by parishioners who gave more of themselves than can ever be truly noted. All these people helped to shape this parish as it went through its growth, anxieties and joys. There were and are trustees who give of their time and efforts to keep St. Daniel's running smoothly. Such individuals as Earl E. Boyle (1953-1962), Charles W. Dussing (1953-1960), Edward Todd (1962-1970), Harold Yeazel (1970­1985), William Haller (1980-1989), Edith Matott (1985-2002), Joseph Celentano (1989-2002) and currently Nancy lannolo and George Hunter (2002-present) all toiling tirelessly to plant the seeds needed for growth.

The list of Associate Pastors is filled with men who gave their lives to Christ and served by leading this parish to become a vital place within the family unit. Leaders like: Fr. Richard A Clark (1940-45 and 1948-50), James F. Gillen (1945-46), Robert Donovan (1946-47), John K. Ryan (1947-48), James McCloskey (1950-54), Daniel Heintz (1954-57), Ambrose Farrell (1957-61), Joseph M. Devitt (1961-67), William C. Cahill (1967-70), Bernard Nelson (1970-71), James Mathews (1970-73), Joseph Phillips (1973-76), Albert J. Proud (1976-79), Paul Slavetskas (1979-81), Edmond A. Castronovo (1981-87), John DeLorenzo (1987-94), Mark Gantley (1994-2001) and Fr. Mark P. Kaminski (2001-2004), Rev. Amedeo G. Guida (2004-2006), Rev. Thienan Tran (2006-2008), Rev. Timothy Elmer (2008-2010), Rev. Charles Vavonese (2010-2012 ).

Vocations have flourished from the seeds of prayer and guidance this parish planted in the hearts of its young. Individuals who chose to serve as Priests and Religious are: Donald Connors (Rev. Canis Connors), Richard Allard, Ronald Barchette, J. Robert Yeazel, Daniel Caruso, Clifford Auth, Richard Prior and Rev. Mr. Pio Peter Carranti and Joseph Celentano as Permanent Deacons, along with Theresa Herold (Sr. James Denis), Mary Dolores Smith (Sr. Marie Bernadette), Mary Ann Legnetto (Sr. Antonia), Kathleen Osbelt (Sr. Ann Matthew), Sr. Dorothy Bernadette Allard (Sr. Daniel Joseph), Theresa Allard (Sr. Elizabeth Jean), Sr. Theresa Brown (Sr. Theresa Andre) Sr. Joan Mary Brogle, Anne Allard (Sr. Annette Maria), Sr. Nancy Burkhard (Sr. Carl Marie), Sr. Rosemarie Freitag (Sr. Robert Daniel). Current seminarians include Jonathan Moore, Mark Loftus and Christopher Celentano.

The seeds of this parish have grown into a strong tree that has weathered much, its branches reaching beyond the clergy into the lives of the laity who have become involved in organizations such as the Mary and Martha Society. This society was established in the early 40's under Fr. Lyon's leadership. Originally this group of women undertook the task of the special needs of the parish, including social and financial functions. The Altar Society began its services for the upkeep of the altar and sanctuary in 1949.

The spiritual growth of St. Daniel's has been through such organizations as the Prayer Group, started in October 1981. Their primary directive, under the guidance of Sr. Josephine Regan, was to pray for the needs of God's people. This group was also instrumental in the organization of a Bible Study Group, along with a weekly Holy Hour.

The Legion of Mary at one time continued this spiritual growth with daily recitation of the Rosary. Established on December 12, 1981, the Legion undertook a variety of spiritual works with the help and prayerful guidance of the Blessed Mother. One of their corporal works of mercy was visiting the sick and elderly, along with acting as Eucharistic Ministers.

During the Lenten season of 1985, the Renew Group began its pursuit to better know Jesus and His teachings. They spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelization within the parish as well as reaching outside the parish.

In 1989, St. Daniel's celebrated its 50th Anniversary as a parish with many gala celebrations.