St. Thomas Aquinas
On January 3, 1926, Bishop Daniel J. Curley purchased wooded land on Binghamton’s West Side. This was to develop a new parish which has grown and become a modern campus in keeping with the Parish Motto: “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.”
The new parish was guided by Father Thomas J. Hannon who was born in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland. The church was incorporated on July 28, 1927.
In an early issue of “The Recorder”, a church booklet issued periodically by Father Hannon, the first child to be called Thomas, after the parish patron, was Thomas Edwin Benedict who is the father of current parishioner William Benedict, who, along with his family, is very active in our parish.
On April 28, 1929, the first Confirmation class was confirmed in the chapel of St. Mary’s Home; the present location of Seton Catholic Central High School. The class consisted of sixty children and fifteen adults.
In the 1950’s Father Hannon continued the development of the parish campus adding a rectory in 1950, the convent in 1953 and the school in 1956. On September 9th the new school was blessed and the cornerstone placed. The school thrived for over fifty years with many of those years having over 400 students enrolled. St. Thomas Aquinas school closed May 2011 with the restructure of the Catholic Schools of Broome County. The school building was then inhabited by Binghamton City School McAurthur Elementary due to the flood of September 2011 until their new building was complete in 2016.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital located at 169 Riverside Drive was started on August 15, 1925 in the Corbett Mansion and land once owned by the parish. And now, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and Lourdes Hospital are in process of welcoming the expansion of Lourdes Daycare Services to the St. Thomas Aquinas school site.
On December 15, 1964, Monsignor Hannon’s career as a priest of God came to an end upon his death. For over thirty seven years he saw the number of parishioners grow from 500 to 2,500. He guided them despite hardships and the great depression establishing a parish worthily reflecting the greater honor and glory of God.
On September 20, 1966, ground was broken for a new church. This was a changing time following Vatican II and a new circular church was designed, a dramatic departure from traditional churches. It conformed closely to the new liturgical changes in the Mass. People were more intimately associated with the altar of sacrifice being seated no more than 72 feet away with the choir as part of the congregation rather than in a loft. The church included a chapel for daily Mass and a nursery where young parents could have small children looked after by girls of the parish. On December 16, 1967 the first Mass and dedication took place.
On the 4th of July 1976, the bell in the church steeple rang officially for the last time while in the church. Per a request from Binghamton’s Mayor Alfred Libous, all churches across the city were asked to ring their bells to celebrate our Nations Bicentennial. In August of 1976 the original church was torn down. The old bell, a gift from the Children’s collection, has been relocated several times since and was used to mark the start and completion of each school year, having all the children give a tug on its rope.
In time for the 90th anniversary of the parish in 2017, the Church Sanctuary was remodeled, making it handicapp accesible. The update included the new appointment of a beautiful stained glass medallion above the main altar in the dome. The original marble altar is now highlighted with marble flooring and back drop with a beautiful life size crucifix. A solid wood tabernackle altar hosting the repurposed and readorned original tabernackle are at the foot to the cross. The storied angels from the original parish church were repurposed as part of the remodel appointments. A new choir area was added along with a new state of the art video and sound system. Two large screens over the Sanctuary were installed to display songs, videos and pictures. Monitors are in place in the vestibules to highlight events of the parish. The Baptismal Font was relocated to the main church and the original Baptistery was converted to a meeting room referred to as the Cebula Room. The restrooms were also expanded to accommodate accessibility.
St. Thomas Aquinas hosts the largest seating capacity in the southern tier and is a warm and welcoming comuunity.