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Marianists Leaving St. John’s Home in Rockaway Park

St. John’s Residence for Boys

The Marianist brothers and priests of the Province of the United States have announced their departure from ministry at St. John’s Residence for Boys in Rockaway Park, effective June 30.  They have administered the home since 1937.
St. John’s began as an orphan asylum in 1826 and is now a contemporary program with a residential treatment center, diagnostic reception center, a non-secure detention group home and an educational service center.
Although many factors contributed to the decision, aging and diminishing personnel within the Province was the most critical, with only one Marianist in full-time ministry at the residence.
Father Martin Solma, S.M., provincial, said, “With a smaller number of brothers and priests and an effort to consolidate resources within the Province, sometimes hard choices have to be made. Regrettably, this was one of them.”
The termination of the Marianist involvement at St. John’s also will necessitate the closing of the brothers’ community that is housed there.
Brother Thomas Trager, S.M., executive director of the residence, said that services offered at St. John’s will remain in place.  The new executive director will be Alissa Deakin, a longtime assistant to Brother Thomas.
The Marianist Province will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving next month to mark and honor both the order’s contribution to St. John’s and the many people who have given generously of themselves over the years.
Father Solma described St. John’s as a revered, longtime ministry for the Marianists.
“We will always be grateful for the many Marianists and staff members who have served at St. John’s, for the generous donors who have made St. John’s so successful, and for the members of the board, who have been so supportive and cooperative. We are gratified that the Marianists have served boys and families at risk for almost three-quarters of a century.”
The child-caring institution began to take its present-day form as St. John’s Home for boys when it  opened in 1868 on the site near Albany and Troy aves. in Brooklyn. At that time, it was served by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  At its peak, it cared for 1,000 boys.
It moved to Beach 111th St. in Rockaway Park in 1948. The diocese purchased The Hebrew Home for Convalescent Children and added three floors to the north end of the building in order to accommodate a dormitory, a chapel, and a residence area for the Marianist community.  A later move to a newly constructed residence building on Beach 110th St. created room in the former dormitories for the school program, which up to that time had been located in a large white frame building near the play field.
In the United States, the Marianists sponsor three universities (University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio; St. Mary’s University in San Antonio; and Chaminade University of Honolulu) as well as 19 secondary and middle schools, seven parishes and several retreat centers.

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5 thoughts on “Marianists Leaving St. John’s Home in Rockaway Park

  1. I started my life in Angel Gaurdian Home in Brooklyn, NY. Different foster homes followed that.
    At the age of about eleven (1953) I was sent to St. Johns.
    At first notice that I was being sent to St Johns the next day(not knowing anything about the place),I got up during the night and ran away. I slept on a roof top under some grape vines for cover as Hurricane Helen decided to make its presence.
    After 2 days I agreed to be taken to St Johns after the elderly woman in the foster home I was living asked me to do it for her (she was a wonderful person and I did not want to leave).
    As it turned out it was a great experience. The Marianists brothers were totally decicated men. They had the boys best interest. They provided a solid education (in that large white frame building). I believe the teacher of my class was brother Matthew. In class they made it clear that during school hours you were there to learn. After class the brothers would then become like your like your older brother (if you had one) and play games (baseball, basketball) or just walk on the boardwalk. In the summer they would take you swimming. Before leaving St Johns (after 8th grade) you were taught well in school,including religion.
    The brothers were decicated in raisings you with values, provided guidence while stll being your pal. The lead brother at the time I think was Brother August or Brother Faank Springman. I also remember a young brother Richard Duffy and a Brother Raymond. I hope I have the names correct as it was about 59 years ago.
    All though the years I tell people about how good it was at St Johns Home for boys and how great the decicated Marianists Brothers were.
    Thank you Marianist Brothers

    Bill Fox
    Baldwin, NY 11510
    June 4, 2012

  2. Billy:
    Thinking back, it’s hard to believe that 55 years have passed since we boarded that school bus in late August of 1957 on our way to St. Vincents…. there were a lot of good memories and good frienships forged during our time at St. John’s.Over the years I have often wondered and hoped that you, and Billy Phillips, Flynn, Tommy Rownan, Schalck and the rest of the gang lived a full and rewarding life. By the way, you did for the most part get all of the names of the Brother’s right….. Bro. Matthew was my favorite because he pushed me the hardest acaedmically.. thanks for the memories… Tom Taggart

  3. After years of nightmare foster homes, my brother and I were sent to st. Johns in 1975. It was a different world back then, but looking back – it was those times that made me stronger. We were one of a handful of white kids, and the life lessons learned there ( although tough at the time ) helped make me the compassionate, caring, racially blind person I am today. It’s hard to explain to anyone who didn’t live it, and most would never understand, but to my fellow youth – I thank you – and send out love.