History of Our Parish

The Dominican Friars have exercised Parish ministry in this neighborhood since 1867. Over more than 150 years, our Parish has grown to include two Dominican churches, two communities of Friars, two communities of Sisters, two high schools, and a hospital chaplaincy, as well as an administrative center for the Order. What has shaped our Parish life throughout these generations is the common life the Brothers and Sisters share. The men and women of the Dominican Order live a life of prayer, community, ministry, leisure, and thorough study, as St. Dominic designed.

This common life, especially the study, orders the environment in which you pray, as it continues to order the preaching you hear at Mass and the education our students receive throughout the week. It gives shape to the way we form the faith of adults and children; it molds the way we steward resources, and how we collaborate with staff and volunteers.

In the ancient days of our Order, our houses were often referred to as a “Holy Preaching,” not only because the Dominicans gave sermons but because their way of life proclaimed the Gospel to their contemporaries. Our hope is that this Parish will preach by what we say and sing, by how we invest our resources, and by how we treat our elders, our young, members of long-standing, and those who have just joined.


This environment has been formed decade by decade as the neighborhood has evolved. Consider a chronology of its development:

1867: The Dominicans are given charge of what was to be St. Vincent Ferrer Parish. The first temporary church stood at the corner of
Lexington Avenue and 65th Street.

1870: The first permanent Church of St. Vincent Ferrer is dedicated and remains in use until 1914. It’s architect was Patrick Keely.

1874: The creation of St. Vincent Ferrer Priory as a formal house of the Dominican Friars.

1888: The arrival of the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs to administer St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Grade School.

1897: The Parish opens a mission on 68th Street, east of 1st Avenue, entrusted to the patronage of St. Catherine of Siena.

1897: The Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs open Dominican Academy High

1906: The opening of St. Catherine of Siena School under the direction of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.

1909: The opening of St. Vincent Ferrer Business High School, a two-year program of commercial studies.

1916: The creation of St. Catherine of Siena Priory as a formal house of Dominican Friars.

1918: The dedication of the present Church of St. Vincent Ferrer. Bertram Goodhue was
the architect.

1931: The dedication of the present Church of St. Catherine of Siena. Wilfrid Anthony was the architect.

1932: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center moves to its current location on York Ave, and Dominican Priests begin their hospital ministry.

1936: Dominican Academy High School moves to its current location on 68th Street.

1954: A new school building is opened, on 65th Street, housing St. Vincent Ferrer Grade
School, and the new, four-year St. Vincent Ferrer High School.

1985: St. Vincent Ferrer Grade School is closed, and St Vincent Ferrer High School occupies the entire school building.  It begins to draw young women from all boroughs and Westchester County.

1992: St. Catherine of Siena School is closed.

1996: St. Catherine of Siena School, Convent, and Priory are sold to Memorial Sloan
Kettering Cancer Center.

2002: Dominican Healthcare Ministry is founded, adding to the existing care of the sick a new focus on healthcare ethics and outreach to the hospital community.

2008: The new Priory of St. Catherine of Siena is opened, including a new Parish Office and meeting space.

2009: The Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Springs of Bridgeport assume the administration of St. Vincent Ferrer High School.

2015: The merger of the two churches to form the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena.

2018: The Parish celebrates 150 years of the Dominican presence in the neighborhood and 100 years of the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer.

This string of dates describes to you how the presence of the Church burgeoned in our neighborhood from the late 19th Century until World War II, only to contract as the neighborhood changed beginning in the 1960’s. Beneath that ebb and flow there has been a constant desire to respond to those who need the services of the preachers. Because of this legacy the presence of the Order here is textured by interlocking Parish, community, school, and shrine structures.