Of Alexandria Church
153 Penn Boulevard,
East Lansdowne, Pa 19050
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From the commemorative 75th Anniversary Book
“Proceed, prosper, and prevail.” This was the motto of Rev. Edmond I. O’Shea, appointed founding pastor of St. Cyril of Alexandria parish on June 13, 1928.
Proceed. Father O’Shea immediately began gathering his people to celebrate Masses in Stonehurst Hills Public School. However, due to scheduling problems and increased attendance, Masses were soon moved to the Stonehurst Moving Picture House. Undaunted by hard economic times, Father O’Shea’s first priority was building a school with an auditorium for worship on land obtained in East Lansdowne. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, led by Mother M. Bonita, welcomed 370 students in September 1929, and Masses were held in the temporary church on the first floor.
Prosper. With the Depression ebbing, employment was on the upswing and people were again on the move and buying homes. The parish was growing and the small church area on the first floor of the school building was bursting at the seams. Father O’Shea developed a conglomeration of homemade buildings at Long Lane and Clinton Road in Upper Darby affectionately called, “The Annex.” In addition to handling the overflow crowds at Sunday Mass, it was used for bingo, card parties, and various social events.
Under the leadership of the second pastor, Rev. John G. Fallon, St. Cyril parishioners achieved the dream of its founding pastor, and gathered in the present church building to celebrate midnight Mass 1955. As the parish continued to grow to 2300 families, the third pastor, Rev. Raymond J. O’Donnell, oversaw an addition to the school, which by then had an enrollment of 1,164 students. Many organizations developed, contributing to the spiritual and social welfare of parish members, such as the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Sodality, and Holy Name Society. During this time, and continuing under the guidance of the fourth pastor, Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Dean, many of the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council occurred at St. Cyril’s. As with most changes, some were easily welcomed and some took a period of adjustment. Rev. Donald J. Farrell, the fifth pastor, continued the work of his predecessors and also introduced the parish to diversity, hosting monthly Vietnamese Masses and collaborating with a Spanish-speaking parish, St. Bonaventure, Philadelphia.
Prevails. Growth and change do not usually come about trouble-free. Each pastor did his best to guide the community through growing pains and the sixth pastor, Rev. Peter D. Burke, was no exception. No stranger to trials and struggles, Father Burke saw parish difficulties not as problems but rather as opportunities. His “can do” attitude was infectious and soon a spirit of volunteerism was renewing itself in the parish family. Groups of people were beautifying the parish grounds and buildings, working to improve members’ spiritual life, and helping one another overcome obstacles in day-to-day living.
Guided by the current pastor, Rev. Edward T. Kearns, St. Cyril parish maintains a vital presence as a community of faith facing new challenges in the 21st century. As it listens to the voice of its past, it is determined to “proceed, prosper, and prevail.”
There are still some commemorative 75th Anniversary Books available at a cost of $25.00 each. If you would like to purchase one of these keepsakes, please call Mary Lou at the Rectory at 610-623-5160.