St. Vincent de Paul, a native of France, lived a life of dedication to the poor. So outstanding was this virtue of charity that Pope Leo XIII proclaimed and appointed him the special patron before God of all charitable societies existing in the entire Catholic world. In light of appeals in behalf of impoverished peoples, by Pope Paul VI in 1965, it was fitting that this parish be named in honor of St. Vincent de Paul. It should stand as a reminder to our parishioners and the community of our obligations in charity of our fellowmen.
The parish of St. Vincent de Paul was officially established by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Walter A. Foery, D.D., the Bishop of Syracuse, on May 7, 1965. On the same day, the Reverend Lawrence E. Giblin was appointed pastor.
Temporary Chapel Established
A short time later, through a generous offer of the Eastern Shopping Plaza, Inc., a vacant store was made available in the Vestal shopping plaza for church services. A chapel was established and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was first offered on June 6, 1965.
Parish meetings were held, trustees appointed and plans dis-cussed for the development of parish facilities. A census was taken and an architect selected to formulate designs for a church and social hall-catechetical center. In January, 1966, a financial campaign was conducted which met with an overwhelming response on the part of the people. Construction was begun in July with a catechetical program established for the children along with a variety of parish organizations. On May 27, 1967, Bishop Foery blessed and dedicated the new church building.
Colonial and Modern Architecture
The architecture of the church is a harmonious blend of colonial and modern. The colonial style is found in the construction materials and their appearance on both the exterior and interior of the buildings. Brick and cedar shake shingles form the walls, roof and ceiling areas. Above the entrance, three large arched beams reach toward the heavens to support a cross. Wood beams frame the interior and provide construction material for the altars, the pulpit, the sanctuary furniture and the altar rails. The use of arched doors and windows reaches back through and beyond the colonial period to lend a religious, monastic appearance to the overall edifice.
Entrance to the church is through a low ceiling vestibule framed by wood beams and with a patterned quarry tile floor. The vestibule bursts suddenly to a high level in the Nave, symbolic of the power, the glory and the majesty of God. The rich, soft tones of brick and natural wood are combined with colonial chandeliers giving a restful and devotional atmosphere to the church interior. Stained glass windows contribute to the quiet dignity of the church. This is further enhanced by the carpeted floor areas. Stained pews arranged in a semi-circular configuration about the altar, provides seating for eight hundred people. Two sacristies are adjacent to the sanctuary.
The Altar of Sacrifice is predominant whereon the Sacrifice of the Son of God is renewed. The small altar to the right is the Altar of Repose holding the Tabernacle with its precious treasure of the Body of Jesus Christ in His Eucharistic Presence.
The Baptismal Font, where new members are welcomed into the Church of Christ and the People of God, has a place of prominence in the front of the church, to the left of the Sanctuary.
Set in the Sanctuary floor in front of the Altar of Sacrifice is a millstone. It was brought from a farm in northern Pennsylvania, from where many of the first settlers of our area originated. It was used to grind wheat into flour from which was made bread for the Eucharist of Sacrifice. The stone is a reminder that we must grind out sinful tendencies of our human nature if we are to communicate worthily with God.
The church has four hand-carved, wooden statues. To the right of the main altar are statues of Mary, Mother of God, Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Christ and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the vestibule, is a statue of our patron, Saint Vincent de Paul. The Stations of the Cross, carved in wood, are mounted on the side walls of the church. They present the story of Christ’s passion and death, our redemption from sin.
The stained glass windows on the side walls of the Nave depict the sacraments of the church receiving their spiritual power from the Sacrifice of Our Blessed Savior on Calvary. The cross in the left rear window symbolizes the crucifixion from which originates the streams of Christ’s redemptive grace to flow into each succeeding window. The waters of Baptism flow from a shell to cleanse the souls of men from original sin and give spiritual life. The Holy Spirit, represented by a dove, descends on man with His seven gifts, the flaming of fire, in the Sacrament of Confirmation. The grapes and wheat express the Holy Eucharist containing the body and Blood of Christ.
On the other side of the Nave, the power to forgive sins through the Sacrament of Penance is symbolized by two keys. The Anointing of the Sick is represented by a vial of oil and candles. Holy Orders is expressed by a Bible draped with a stole for it is the primary duty of the priest to announce the Good News of Salvation. The stole is symbolic of his authority. The entwined rings, resting below a Greek monogram for the name of Jesus, proclaim the Sacrament of Matrimony uniting a Christian man and woman in wedlock.
Sanctuary and Sacristy Windows
In the Sanctuary, the left window bears a three-in-one symbol of the Trinity and the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet proclaiming God as the beginning and the end of all things. The right window contains the Chi Rho, the first two letters of the name of Christ in Greek.
There are four windows in the sacristies. One bears our plea for peace symbolized by an olive branch. Another window shows the “Hand of God” displaying his readiness to help us. A third window commemorates Saint Vincent de Paul, the Apostle of Charity, symbolized by a heart. The fourth window is dedicated to the Mother of God using a monogram expressing the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Social Hall and Religious Education Center
A social hall, with kitchen and storage areas, extends to the right of the vestibule. It accommodates receptions, church and community events. For a number of years, it also served to house classes for the faith formation of the children. In 1975, however, a Religious Education Center, to the left of the vestibule, with eight classrooms and offices, was added to the original structure.
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
The Church of the Blessed Sacrament was formed in September 1945 by combining parts of St. James Parish in Johnson City with parts of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Binghamton. The new parish was to include most of Johnson City’s south side, some of its western parts, and the hamlets of Westover and Oakdale. The Rev. John J. Toomey was named founding pastor. Construction on the new church and rectory began in March 1946 and on November 24th of that year, Syracuse Bishop Walter A. Foery led the dedication ceremony. In September of 1988 a renovation committee was formed to make recommendations regarding how to update the church for future challenges. A second dedication ceremony of the parish was held on February 23, 1992 officiated by Bishop Joseph O’Keefe.
Linkage and Merger
The Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Johnson City, New York linked with St. Vincent de Paul Church on July 1, 2010. Following the final prayer service at Blessed Sacrament and transfer of the Holy Eucharist on December 10, 2011, the two churches formally merged on January 1, 2012, becoming St. Vincent de Paul Blessed Sacrament Church. Since that time, the two parishes have blended traditions and continue to grow in faith as we move forward.
Many items from Blessed Sacrament were incorporated into the everyday workings of the newly formed church, symbolizing the richness of both parishes. Its wood and granite lectern is used on the Altar of Sacrifice along with the Pastor’s chair. A small granite altar was placed at the Altar of Repose holding the tabernacle. To the left of the altar is Blessed Sacrament’s organ and choir chairs. The Sacramental Oils hang on the wall to the right of the congregation while Blessed Sacrament’s large wooden cross predominantly hangs on the back wall of the church. The vestments, Nativity set, altar cloths, and processional cross are used during masses along with those from St. Vincent de Paul Church. The oak storage units and a large plaque, in the shape of a chalice and host, are located in the vestibule. The plaque lists the names of those who contributed to the Blessed Sacrament renovation in the early 1990s. Blessed Sacrament’s sound system is now used in Monsignor Giblin Social Hall.
In the year 2012, cushions were installed on the pews in the church, one of the main entrance doors was fitted with a handicap opening device and a new glass outside door was in-stalled in Monsignor Giblin Social Hall.
During property renovations in 2013, a rosary garden and grotto were built on the property. A campfire area off to the side of the rosary garden was constructed and is used by young people on evenings before they head off on retreat. Refinished stations were posted on wooden plaques along a winding path and a granite altar sits prominently in the grotto along with a statue of the Blessed Mother, all of which items were all brought over from Blessed Sacrament. Also in year 2013, the kitchen in Monsignor Giblin Social Hall was completely renovated.
In 2014, a new cross was placed on the roof of the Church which is illuminated at night.
Since 2015, St. Vincent de Paul Blessed Sacrament joyfully welcomes students of Binghamton University.