Our HistoryThe Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Americas is a relatively new name, but we have been here since 1858. Our name may have changed three times, but our purpose of becoming the home to many immigrants and refugees has never changed. Come and join us!
St. Patrick’s Church
During the middle and late 1800s, our neighborhood became home to many immigrants from different European origins, who settled close to the Hudson River in Albany. St. Patrick’s Parish was founded in 1858. At the time, there were sufficient Irish in the western part of Albany to build their own neighborhood church. On July 25, 1858, St. Patrick’s Church was built as a small wooden church at the corner of North Lake Avenue and Sherman Street.
Our Current Building
In the middle of 1860’s, the community gained more Catholics immigrants and became a solid working class neighborhood. Thanks to the great number of parishioners, the construction of our present church building began under the direction of Rev. Felix McGinn. Much of the work was done by the parishioners after their regular workday was completed.
1897 to 1917
St. Patrick’s Institute
The number of immigrant families continued to increase in the area, and the first generation of Irish children was born as part of the St. Patrick’s parish. That increase in children motivated the congregation to construct the St. Patrick’s Institute. St. Patrick’s Institute was the first Catholic school in the City of Albany to be staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. Today, the St. Patrick’s Institute building (at the left side of the church) is being reconstructed to be the house of the STEAM Garden, a Tech incubator for young people.
1940 to 1970
In the late 1940s, St. Patrick’s Church was home to a solid community of long time residents and young families who looked to the parish to fulfill their spiritual and social needs. However, during the two subsequent decades, the community underwent a great series of changes. The children of St. Patrick’s families were going away to college and finding job elsewhere outside of Albany, and the suburbs around the city attracted the young generation of homeowners. As the neighborhood changed, it became more attractive for those displaced from affordable housing.
A “New” Community
The decade of 1970 brought one of the biggest community changes to St. Patrick’s Parish. The shift in the population and the community changes brought a new wave of diverse immigrants to the parish community. Like the founders of the Church of St. Patrick, the new residents were engaged in the everyday life of the community. During this decade, the Parish became the center of the Parish Outreach Program by the Catholic Charities.
The decade of 1980 was one of the most challenging decades of our church community. Early during the decade, the St. Patrick’s Institute was force to close due to the declining enrollment and the increased cost of operation. During the first part of the decade, the spiritual and pastoral needs of the parish community passed to the care of Conventual Franciscans. In the mid 80’s, St. Patrick’s also become a home to the Spanish Apostolate, increasing the diversity of the church and enhancing the community with their strong Catholic faith.
Holy Family Parish
Due to the declining numbers of parishioners in three parishes, closings and mergers were made. St. Casimir’s Church on Sheridan Avenue closed in 2003 became part of Our Lady of Angels Parish on Central Avenue. Our Lady of Angels, St. Casimir’s, and St. Patrick’s parishes merged to become Holy Family Parish in April 2005. The “new” church community was now more diverse and inclusive than ever before.
Shrine Church of
Our Lady of the Americas
In October 2010, Holy Family Parish was closed. Our community lives on as a Shrine Church and was renamed Our Lady of the Americas under the administration of Blessed Sacrament Parish. Now, our community is home to an international community composed by individuals from different countries and ethnic groups.
A Promising Future
We are proud to be part of a resilient community that has redesigned itself with the different changes in the city of Albany, our neighborhood and parish community. Our Shrine Church continues to be home to many immigrants and refugees, following the example of our founders. Together, as one community, we welcome people from every race or ethnicity as we shape the future of our church.