One Astoria Catholic church will soon be celebrating nearly a century of serving the community.
The Immaculate Conception Church, located at 21-47 29th St., will be marking 90 years since it held its first Mass in 1924.
There are two celebratory Masses planned for this fall, followed by a party in the new year.
“It’s wonderful. It’s a great way of marking the accomplishments of the parish,” said Monsignor Fernando Ferrarese, the current pastor of the church, about the celebrations. “When you see the accomplishments of the parish over 90 years, you see the possibilities for a future as well.”
The Rev. Michael Lopez held the church’s first Mass in the Immaculate Conception School, which will also be celebrating its 90th anniversary, on Oct. 4, 1924. The church’s current building, located on the corner of 29th Street, was fully completed in 1951.
The National Organization of Catholic War Veterans was started in the parish by the Rev. Edward Higgins in the 1930s and Post 1 is still located at the church as various other posts have become established throughout the nation.
“[The church] has been a unifying factor and the celebration of diversity that people from all different countries, all different walks of life, all believe in God and believe that God is the best thing for community,” Ferrarese said. “It brings us together, it gives us the virtues and values that we need as a city and it is a real anchor for people.”
The Astoria church now offers Mass in four languages — Spanish, English, Italian and Tagalog — and Ferrarese said he has seen the community and parish itself grow and bring a “wonderful mixture of people.”
Other programs and services the parish offers include a homeless shelter in the winter, a food pantry throughout the year, an introductory opera course, an active school, a religious education program and spiritual courses.
For the past five years, the church has also been holding film festivals every fall and spring. This fall’s festival, which begins on Oct. 17 and is free to the public, will surround the topic of “hate,” and screen three movies including “42.”
“We want to be able to give our people a real sense of growth of development on all levels,” Ferrarese said. “It also is a kind of way to introduce people to issues of faith.”
The first celebratory Mass of the church’s 90th anniversary will be on Oct. 4 at 5 p.m., and the second Mass will be on Dec. 7. The gala reception is expected to be held on Jan. 18, 2015, at Russo’s on the Bay.
For more information on the Immaculate Conception Church, visit www.immacastoria.org.