Sunday, June 29, 2008

33. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini / Good Shepherd Chapel (Roosevelt Island) (Now the Church of St. John Nepomucene, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini & St. John the Martyr)

NOTE: In 2015 the church of St. John the Martyr closed down and was merged into the churches of St. John Nepomucene and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Roosevelt Island) as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only St. John Nepomucene and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This combined parish of East River Catholic churches is called the Church of St. John Nepomucene, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini & St. John the Martyr.

This article states that as of July 2015 "the New York Archdiocese signed a 35-year agreement with Related/Hudson, the landlord of 504 Main St. [on Roosevelt Island] to take over the building’s second floor" as a new permanent space for the parish of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. If you are reading this and have any news on the status of this parish, it's new location or Mass times, please feel free to leave a note in the comments section below. Thanks!

PS - (04/29/2016) - I just heard word that the above article is accurate and the church will be relocating to 504 Main St. with a library on the first floor and a substantial church on the 2nd floor, however that will take a year and a half or more, so in the meantime the addresses below of both chapels are where Mass is currently taking place.

(mass times & church info last updated 04/29/2016)
Chapel of the Good Shepherd, 543 Main St., Roosevelt Island
Cabrini Chapel, 564 Main St., Roosevelt Island
Phone: 212.734.4613
Weekend Mass Times: 
8:15am (English, at the Cabrini Chapel)
11:15am (English, at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon: 6:45pm (English, at the Cabrini Chapel)
Tue-Fri: 9am (English, at the Cabrini Chapel)
Confession: before or after Masses

Mother Cabrini Chapel Mass Times (701 Ft. Washington Ave. in Manhattan):
Sun: 9am, 11am (English)
4th Saturdays: 2pm (Spanish)
Tue-Sat: 12pm (English)

Official Website
A blog entry about Roosevelt Island
Another blog entry about Roosevelt Island
Catholic Blog articles about St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
More About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Additional About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine
Shrine: Mystery Worshipper
Shrine & School: Trip Advisor

Does Roosevelt Island remind anyone out there of the island on The Prisoner?

It's a really strange place that exists in the middle of New York City and my Sunday morning was made so strange because of it.

Yesterday I was in such a conflict as to whether to head to Mass and Confession, or to spend some time with friends. I really felt the need to sit in a church and be at some peace, but then I wondered if it might not be better to stay with my friends (there are a quite a bit of them here in the city for the time being and that may not always be the case. ) I was almost out the door on my way to Roosevelt Island when I decided to spend the afternoon and evening with my friends. I'm not going to say it was the wrong decision, I had some good quality time with them, but it did force me to put off my confession, Mass, and my peace.

And this morning I paid dearly for it - waking up in so much inner turmoil and confusion.

I sat many hours with my friends yesterday, told old stories, laughed and made jokes, played cards and drank lots of beer. And through it all - all the good times - I still somehow felt so disconnected and away from them all. I ended the night drinking beers by myself on my fire escape trying to make sense of it all and feeling pathetic for myself - shameful and selfish, I know - and ridiculous. And then off I went to bed.

And I woke up in such a kind of fever - it was incredibly hot outside, the heat having only now just broken and abated via a thunderstorm - at a very early hour and I couldn't (and didn't wish to) go back to sleep and I just sat there in bed kind of sweating it all out - thoughts and all. I showered and decided to head off to the earlier 8:15am mass - and seeing how it was so early I decided to walk some of the way.

From 65th and Broadway I began heading across town. Shame on Hopstop for misguiding me with their walking directions, and shame on me for being dumb. The directions told me to head over the Queensborough Bridge - and I was in such a hungover state, and so cloudy in my head and my heart and just about everywhere, that I blindly walked over it. Only when I was standing directly above Roosevelt Island did I realize that the bridge would not deliver me to the small island between Manhattan and Queens, only to Queens. I decided, seeing as I was halfway across already, to continue onward to Queens. After the bridge I searched frantically for an "F" train to drop me off at the Roosevelt Island stop.

By this time the humidity and my recovery sweat had taken it's toll on my mind and body. As I stood waiting in the further heat of the subterranean subway stop I tried to make some sense of the stupid and ridiculous journey I had taken. Aimless, with only a hint of where I was going; not guided, but self-guiding blindly; not clear, but cloudy and hapless.

Eventually I did make it to the church, missing the first half but making it in time for Communion - though I was sweaty and felt terribly grimy. I slinked into a back row and sat sulkily while the priest was praying over the Eucharist. Where had I been going; what was I doing here?

I'm a little confused because I guess there are two churches near each other - one is St. Frances Cabrini Chapel, and the other is the Good Shepherd Chapel. I believe weekend services are held at Good Shepherd chapel. So I suppose I did not visit St. Frances Cabrini after all. And I also believe that Good Shepherd is an Episcopalian church that is used for Roman Catholic Mass on the weekends. Once again, all these places are just great churches to be in (once you actually arrive to them, that is.) This church appears a little rundown, I believe it was last renovated in the 1970's. The decor and art is nowhere near as ornate as some of the other Manhattan churches - but it does have it's appeal elsewhere. There is a beautiful rose window in the back of the church, and the exterior of the building is quite nice (take a look at the above blog link.) Perhaps if I have time one day I will go back and take photos of the Cabrini chapel and add them below today's entry.

After Mass I took some photos of the Good Shepherd Chapel and walked around a bit - the island is so strange. It's Manhattan, but it's eerily quiet. It feels like an odd mix between the ostracized colony it once was, a retirement village and a vacation resort.

I headed back to the subway, taking the escalator far below ground, this week's service and adventure not giving me any peace. I am a wreck, a mess, a terror unto myself.

- - -
PART II (posted Tues. July 1, 2008, 1:58pm)
I went back to Roosevelt Island yesterday for the 7pm Monday Mass - this time at the St. France Cabrini chapel.

I took the tram this time - it was a mix of residents and tourists - I supposed I fit somewhere in between.

The chapel is very small - about four or five rows of pews only, and the altar right near the first of them. The priest, who mentioned he will be there next Monday as well, was very good and gave a great homily - all about duty and persevering. There are interesting looking gold stations on the wall, and nice relief sculptures flanking the altar - one of St. Frances Cabrini, I believe.

Attending there last night allowed me to feel better about everything and my missteps of the past weekend and some of what came before. I walked quietly away from the chapel as they began the Novena and headed back towards Manhattan, again via the tram. Roosevelt Island is still to me a strange and mysterious place and there is definitely a bizarre vibe about the island. I have the feeling that those residents there do not experience this vibe - instead they have made a home and carved a place for themselves in that part of the city.

Now, only if I may do the same somewhere, discover my roll, carve a place, perform my duty, and persevere in something.
- - -
PART III (posted Wed. July 16, 2008, 10:13pm)
(Click here for a more complete post of the St. Frances Cabrini Shrine and Chapel)

I have since visited the Mother Cabrini Shrine up in Washington Heights, located at 701 Fort Washington Ave. (212-923-3536). I had no idea until I accomplished a wee more research that the Saint's body was preserved and on display here. I walked in after attending Mass at St. Elizabeth - they were celebrating the birthday of Mother Cabrini - the church was filled with a Spanish speaking congegration and there was both solemnity as well as celebration in the air.

This is definitely a place you should visit if you are a New York Catholic.


  1. Both Churches, the Episcopal and Roman Catholic share the Good Shepherd Chapel although Cabrini does appear to have more office space on Main Street.

  2. I've actually just started reading this post... but thanks for posting. I thought I was the only one who felt like Patrick McGoohan waking up in the village when I first visited Roosevelt Island! I think I'll be living there for school next year and it's good to know where I'll be going for Mass if that's the case.

  3. This is a wonderful site. Thank you so very much. My grandmother's family came to Ellis Island from Italy in the late 1880's. Somehow, they were involved with Mother Frances Cabrini and always donated funds to her chapel. Your site has enabled me to contact the Chapel and send a donation in memory of my grandmother. Thank you.