Holy Trinity is a combination of three different Roman Catholic churches. Holy Family, St. Michael’s and Immaculate Conception merged to form the current Catholic community of Fulton. The name “Holy Trinity” was recommended for the new parish, representing the three parishes as one.
The first Catholic service in Fulton was held o January 29, 1850, when Rev. Michael Kelly then pastor of St. Paul’s Church, Oswego, gathered together fifteen or twenty of the faithful in an old mud-colored house on South Second Street, and there said the first Mass. This formed the nucleus of the present congregation. From that time until 1854, Father Kelly occasionally celebrated Mass at Mr. Donnelly’s over a store on South First Street and subsequently in Pond’s Hall (later called Church’s Hall).
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1854, during the reign of Pope Pius IX, Rev. James Smith was sent as the first pastor of Fulton by Bishop McCloskey of Albany. When Father Smith came to Fulton, There was no church, no rectory, and no cemetery. For almost two years the new pastor continued to celebrate Mass and hold services in Pond’s Hall which was the second floor of the building that became Fishman Company 5 & 10 cent store on South First St. The small congregation then moved to Empire Hall on the corner of Second and Cayuga Streets. This later became the site of Montgomery Ward store and is now The Cayuga Commons building.
In 1856, the congregation continually on the increase, purchased the premises located at the northeast corner of Third and Rochester Streets, which now the location of the rectory. It was an old building which was renovated into a place of worship. It was dedicated by Bishop McCloskey of Albany in 1958.
The Rev. Patrick J. Kearney was appointed second pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church on September 14, 1879. Most Reverend Patrick A. Ludden became the first Bishop of the Syracuse Diocese. It was Bishop Ludden who planned for a church to be built in Fulton. The first meeting of the board of trustees took place on March 3, 1888. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was incorporated. The building of the present church was begun on October 9, 1888. The lot on the southeast corner of Rochester and Third Streets had been donated for this purpose by the former pastor, Rev. James Smith, together with one thousand dollars for the main altar. The foundation stone was laid by A. N. Culkins (grandfather of the Reverend Francis J. Culkins). This was a difficult undertaking at the time as the congregation was all poor farmers, scattered d through the country, but they were willing workers with their teams and men. The men of the parish did the building without any modern means. The craftsmanship is unsurpassed. The work they did was invaluable at the time, as there were no funds to draw from. When the church was erected and the roof placed in position the Woolen Mill closed down and remained closed for over two years, the members of the church left town and sought employment elsewhere and the work stopped because of no funds. The Woolen Mill changed hands and reopened. The construction of the church began again. On March 10, 1895, was the day the church was dedicated by Most Reverend Bishop Patrick Anthony Ludden and the Sacrament of Confirmation to over two hundred and fifty boy and girls.
The church flourished. In 1914a school was built adjacent to the church. In 1960 an addition was added to the school. Many changes were made throughout the years. In 2001 the church became handicap accessible with the opening and dedication of the atrium which connected the three buildings and added an elevator so everyone could attend Mass and any function in the building.
In 1901 the first Polish people came to Fulton, with their numbers increasing each year. At that they attended Mass at Immaculate Conception parish. Father Kearney and after Father Lindsman cared for the Polish. However because of their unfamiliarity with the English language Confession was not possible. The Polish people would travel to Syracuse or Oswego and Father Rusin would say the Holy Mass in Polish.
In 1908 Father Stephen Plaza came to Oswego as the first Polish Pastor, attending to the spiritual needs of the Polish in Fulton also, He was first to suggest building a Polish church in Fulton, On February 7, 1909, he founded the St., Michael’s Society, whose aim was to help start the construction of the new church. Mass was celebrated in the hall under the Church of the Immaculate Conception. All sacraments, sermons and religious instructions for the children were provided there. This continued for over 10 years. But Father Plaza left Oswego in July 1909 and was succeeded in November of the same year by Father Simon Pniak. He also came here for Sunday Mass and Holy days.
Father Pniak with the help of the St. Michael’s Society began to collect funds for the Polish church in Fulton. He bought five lots on Park and Pine Streets as a future site. Due to illness of Father Pniak in 1920 preparations were left at a standstill. Father Pniak died in 1929. Father Valentine Chrobok from Syracuse sometimes came to Fulton to have Holy Mass. On other Sundays and Holy days the Polish attended Mass at Immaculate Conception Church or St. Stephen’s in Oswego.
In 1924 Father Casimir Piejda became pastor in Oswego and on March 4 also the administrator in Fulton. For a time he offered Mass at the former Red Men’s Hall on Broadway and later at Saydera’s Hall. Father Piejda labored for the needed funds to build a new church. Many of the parishioners did not like the site Father Pniak proposed. Father Piejda bought the land despite many difficulties, hardship, opposition and friction because of the present land with the house on the corner of Beech and West 3rd Streets. This house was converted on the first floor into a church and the upstairs served as the rectory for the priest. This was the humble beginning of St. Michael’s Parish in Fulton. In 1927 Father Piejda left Oswego and Fulton and was succeeded by Father John Sciskalski who was unable to come to Fulton to provide spiritual services . For a short time Father Casimir Skrypko, Chaplain of St., Mary’s Hospital in Syracuse, occasionally traveled to Fulton to celebrate Mass.
The first Polish resident priest assigned exclusively for the Polish people in Fulton was Father Joseph Jenkowski. He arrived here in June 1930 and left the next year in July. Several other priests came and went until October 12, 1941 Father Edmund Stankiewicz was assigned to Fulton as the pastor. He stayed for 15 years of spiritual caring and made improvements to the church. In 1956 Father Stanley Macewicz became the pastor of St. Michael’s parish. In 1957 Father John Sliwowski joined him as associate pastor. He came from Poland, ministering to many refugees escaping from Communist rule at the end of WWII. He stayed here till his retirement and under the leadership of Father Macewicz a new church and rectory was built. On the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, September 29, 1960 ground was broken and the church was dedicated by Bishop Walter A. Foery on September 17, 1961. Father Macewicz remained pastor until 1989 when he retired with great sorrow among his parishioners and friends. For 33 years he dedicated his life and strength to St. Michael’s parish. St. Michael’s Church was part of the community of Fulton until June 24, 2007.
Eighty years after the first Catholic Church was founded in Fulton, a group of West side families of Fulton conceived the plan of having their own parish. After a time of hoping and planning this dream became a reality. October, 1930 The first Masses were celebrated on Sunday morning in Hargrave’s Hall on West Broadway. Rev. William J. Tracy was the first pastor of the new church to be called Holy Family Parish. The new parish property was purchased. The property involved twenty-four lots of the Highland Park subdivision which is located in the western part of the city on West Fourth St. Ground was broken in November, 1930, with the first Mass in the new wooden structure being in February, 1931.
Rev. Edward Hearn became the second pastor of Holy Family in 1954. Soon he saw a need for a school and one was built on the adjacent lot to the church.
In 1960 Rev. Robert Handlin became the pastor. He saw the need for a larger church and began a fund raising campaign. Father Handlin died suddenly in 1968 never having seen his church plans fulfilled. The week following the untimely death of Father Handlin, ground-breaking ceremonies of the new church were held with Msgr.John Muldoon, the new pastor. A Mass of dedication of the new church was celebrated in December, 1968.
Holy Trinity Parish
Sadly in 1990 industry began down-sizing and moving out of Fulton. First the Miller Brewing Company left. Then Nestle Chocolate Factory decided to leave their original factory and move production overseas. Birdseye Frozen Foods left also. We had few jobs in Fulton and the population got smaller. The churches were struggling. In 2006 Bishop Moynihan made the decision that Fulton no longer needed three churches. St. Michael’s closed and the parishioners joined Holy Family and became Holy Family/St. Michael Parish. The final blow to the community was when it was decided that two churches were too many and the three were united into one. A committee comprising of members of the three parishes was set up to find a name for the new parish. After a time the committee decided it would be named Holy Trinity Parish (Three churches in one). The hardest was to choose which church would be saved. The parish council (members from all parishes) could not come to a consensus as to which church would be the one to remain. Both churches had advantages and disadvantages. After many months Bishop Moynihan decided it would be Immaculate Conception. In March 2008 the first Mass was said in the new parish.