St. Frances de Chantal parish had its humble beginnings in a tent erected at Meagher and Lawton Avenues where the first mass was celebrated in July of 1922. At that time Throggs Neck was a part of Holy Family parish. In 1926 this little chapel was placed under the care of Father William Jordan who was entrusted with the task of founding a new parish and replacing the tent with a church. Our parish was formally established in 1927 by Patrick Cardinal Hayes.
Father Jordan directed the building of the new church despite the hardships and difficulties which came as a result of the Stock Market crash in 1929 and the ensuing Depression. St. Frances de Chantal Church was completed and the first mass offered in 1930. The parish school opened its doors for the first time in September of that same year. There were 150 students in grades one through four under the guidance of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion. Sr. Mary Bernard was the founding principal.
During Father Jordan's 29 years as pastor, the parish grew not only in size but in the variety of ways in which the needs of parishioners were cared for. One of the proudest moments in now Msgr. Jordan's pastorate was when Frances Cardinal Spellman came to dedicate the new convent on October 9, 1953.
The second pastor of St. Frances de Chantal was Father John T. Halpin who came to the parish at a time of rapid growth and expansion. He began plans to build an addition to the school and started to buy up land on which to build a new and larger church. A new wing to the school containing 16 classrooms and an expanded convent were dedicated by Cardinal Spellman in 1957.
The major task faced by Msgr. Halpin was the construction of our present church, necessitated by the ever growing population of the parish and his desire to respond to the liturgical changes that came from the Second Vatican Council. Construction began in April, 1969 and was completed in September 1970.
The present Brutalist-style church structure was designed by Paul W. Reilly. Colorful chunks of stained glass are set directly into the concrete in the style of the then-contemporary European post-war stained-glass work.
This magnificent structure was free of debt, a wonderful tribute to the faith and generosity of the parishioners of St. Frances. His Eminence Terence Cardinal Cooke celebrated the Mass of Dedication on October 25, 1970.
When Msgr. Halpin's health began to decline, Cardinal Cooke sent Msgr. Joseph Devlin to the parish in 1972 as an administrator. Msgr. Devlin became the third pastor in 1973 until his retirement in 1986 and lived at St. Frances as pastor emeritus until 2001, the year in which he celebrated his 90th birthday and 65th anniversary as a priest. During the Devlin years, the parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1977.
The fourth pastor of our parish was Monsignor Daniel J. Keehan who was appointed in 1986 and served for 10 years until he was appointed pastor of Holy Family Church on Staten Island. It was during his tenure that a new congregation of religious women founded in 1991 by Cardinal O'Connor, the Sisters of Life, took up residence in our parish convent. Our parish school also celebrated its 60th anniversary with Msgr. Keehan in 1990.
Following Msgr. Keehan was Msgr. Leslie J. Ivers who was appointed in November of 1996 by John Cardinal O'Connor. Prior to becoming the fifth pastor of St. Frances de Chantal, Msgr. Ivers served on Cardinal O'Connor's staff as a Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York.
Following Msgr. Ivers was Father Michael Sullivan who was returning to the parish after his ordination. Fr. Sullivan had previously taught in the parish school and was excited to give back to his parish in a new capacity.
After Fr. Sullivan left the parish, Fr. Peter Miquelli was appointed pastor. Fr. Miquelli served the parish for 3 years before Monsignor John J. Graham was appointed in September 2016 by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.