Our Parish History
The Church of St. Paul, Rock City Falls, New York was incorporated in July, 1874. In years prior to 1874 Rock City Falls was visited by priests from Saratoga Springs. Mass was said in the district schoolhouse or the home of Mrs. Vogel. Mrs. Vogel and her son, John, were the first and most active in the movement for a church at Rock City Falls. An 1866 map of the area shows the Vogel home to be opposite the Rock City Falls School on the bank of the Kayaderosseras.
In October, 1872, the Reverend John McMenamin organized a meeting after Mass and opened a subscription for a church at the Falls. Father McMenomy, as the name had come to be by customary use and pronunciation, was the pastor of St. Peter's in Saratoga Springs, appointed in October of 1871 and serving in that capacity for 21 years. Within the year 1873 the church in Rock City Falls was built and paid for, with the exception of about $300. Mr. Chauncey Kilmer, owner of several mills along the Kayaderosseras, generously donated the land, a lot one hundred and fifty by two hundred feet, his son Clarence gave $300; a Mr. Walsh, $500 and his son $100. The first incorporators were Rt. Rev. John J. Conroy, the second Bishop of the Albany Diocese; Rt. Rev. Francis McNeirny, acting vicar-general; Rev. John McMenomy, pastor, together with John Vogel and John Enright, two laymen of the congregation.
Appointed in November, 1875, the first pastor of the church was Reverend Patrick Smith. The first church community was predominantly Irish. The 1875 census of the Town of Milton indicates that about half the foreign-born population of the township was from Ireland. The first resident Pastor was Father Michael Mullany.
Dedication of the church took place in September, 1877. The Rt. Rev. Francis McNeirny, appointed third Bishop of Albany on October 16, 1877, dedicated the church, assisted by Rev. P. Haverman of Troy, Rev. McMenomy, and Rev. Mullany. Rev. Haverman gave the sermon and the choir of St. Peter's sang the Mass.
Father John F. Donahue succeeded as pastor in 1884, attending Galway as a mission and building the church there about 1884. In May, 1888, Father Quinn became pastor establishing his residence at Galway, and Rock City Falls then became a mission parish in Galway. Father Barrett of St. Mary, Father John F. Donahue succeeded as pastor in 1884, attending Galway as as Church, Troy, took over as pastor of the two churches in October, 1897.
Father John F. Donahue succeeded as pastor in 1884, attending Galway as a mission and building the church there about 1884. In May, 1888, Father Quinn became pastor establishing his residence at Galway, and Rock City Falls then became a mission parish in Galway. Father Barrett of St. Mary's Church, Troy, took over as Pastor of the two churches in October, 1897.
A census taken in July 1916 indicates that St. Paul's, Rock City Falls was the mission of 12 families. These families were from Rock City Falls, Milton Centre, West Milton, Greenfield, Porters Corners and Middle Grove. These families consisted of 19 males and 26 females.
The number of Catholic families in the area declined over the years so the church was not used regularly until 1945 when Bishop William Scully directed Father John McNamara to reopen the church. Sunday mass was said beginning the third Sunday in May and continuing until the second Sunday in October, depending on the weather, as there was no heat in the church. The church reopened as a result of the changing economics of the area. The construction of the Atomic Project Site at West Milton brought more families into the area. Summer residents from Lake Desolation, Lake Nancy and the Boy Scouts from the Schenectady Council Boy Haven Camp made up the Sunday community. During the winter local residents attended Mass in Saratoga Springs or St. Joseph's Church in Greenfield Center where Father McNamara resided. St. Pauls then became the mission church to Greenfield Center, as is the case today. Father McNamara celebrated Mass on August 19, 1949 in honor of the 75th year of the church.'
The Redemptorist priests from St. Clement's church in Saratoga Springs assisted at liturgies and other functions until the 1990s.
In the early 1950s Father Gregory Connelly made many improvements. Through the generosity of Miss Blanche Nolan, the heating system was installed, allowing the church to stay open year-round. The present lighting system was added and old benches, each with its own aisle door, were replaced with the ones in use today. In this decade the statues of the Sacred heart, the Blessed Virgin and St. Paul were donated and Mr. Elcead Aubrey rebuilt the confessional.
Father Harvey Thompson briefly served in the fall of 1955 and was followed by Father John Keefe who served until 1963. The Rosary Society in that time provided a new Baptismal Font. Through the efforts of the Society, the present organ was purchased in 1961 at a cost of $600. The pulpit was a memorial gift of the Roland Morris family.
Monsignor Vincent J. Gorsky served from 1963 to 1970. Monsignor Gorsky was responsible for the installation of the second furnace, a well and rest room. After the Second Vatican Council the sanctuary was rearranged to comply with the new directives and art work significant to the spiritual life of the area depicted. In the summer of 1968 the slate roof which probably served the church for most of the 100 years was replaced. The Boy Scouts form Boyhaven contributed instrumental and vocal assistance for Folk Masses during the summer of 1969. The parish community celebrated Monsignor Gorsky's Golden Jubilee as a priest at a Mass and reception held September 21, 1969 at St. Joseph's in Greenfield Center.
Religious education of the children was covered by both St. Mary's in Ballston Spa for those in the Ballston Spa School System and by St. Joseph's in Greenfield Center for the Saratoga Springs School System. Father Peter J. Malin who served until his retirement in August 1974 first opened the rectory in Greenfield Center for release-time education for the children.
As of November, 1974 the pastor was Father Lawrence J. Frank. Father F. William Whalen succeeded Father Frank in August of 1982 and served until November 1994. Father John J. Weyand relieved Father Whalen and served until July 2002.
When priests were no longer available, Parish Life Directors assumed pastoral leadership duties at our parish. This began in the Summer of 2002. Sr. Dianne Schoff CSJ was the first assigned Parish Life Director, serving until December 2006. Succeeding Sr. Dianne was Deacon Gary R. Picher, who served until January 2018.
In January 2018 Bishop Scharfenberger appointed Father Simon Udemgba to lead the parish of St. Joseph's & St. Paul's. Assisted by Deacon John Barone, Father Simon continues to lead our flock as together we live we live out our Baptismal calling through our parish mission statement:
To Serve God and to Welcome All People to God's Love