History of St. Gabriels

The First 50 Years: 1956 to 2006

Saint Gabriel’s parish, celebrated its 50th Anniversary, as a younger parish in the history of the Albany Diocese-but it has “a story to tell.” With other churches in the diocese, this era was impacted by Vatican II with changes in liturgy and related church structures.

The parish, consisting of 500 families, was established on June 8, 1956, with the first Mass held in the Carman Fire Hall on June 10, 1956. Groundbreaking and lying of the cornerstone made the local papers, and the initial Mass was held in newly built Saint Gabriel’s, November 3, 1957, with Father Joseph Honan, first pastor, presiding.

During Father Honan’s era (1956 – 1973) the emphasis was on the physical such as the development and use of grounds and buildings. Some beginnings of parishioner participation were evident in the ushers, choir, altar servers and Women’s Club.

By 1979, Vatican II was reflected in the formation of a Parish Council, the renovation of the church and changes in liturgy. The spirit of Vatican II was “well along its way”. Under the direction of Father Thomas Vail, who served as Saint Gabriel’s second pastor from 1973 to 1984, the first real opportunities for ministry were started. The Sunday choir moved from the choir loft to the main floor of the church in order to interact with parishioners.

In May of 1984, Father Leo Markert was named as the new pastor. Under Father Leo, our pastor with the longest tenure, all opportunities for ministry have been expanded, especially in activities for the youth. The rectory and parish activities have been opened to all. Service and ministry opportunities have been extended, with Father Leo giving strong encouragement to all to be active, loving and spiritual members of the parish.

Upon reaching this 50th-anniversary milestone, Saint Gabriel’s Parish continues to experience many God filled years.

Saint Gabriel’s celebrated its 50th Anniversary on June 4, 2006.
Gloria Halstead, Historian: November 10, 2005

2006 to 2009

“The ‘Called to Be Church’ initiative was an opportunity for ‘creating our future’,” the words of Bishop Howard Hubbard. As St. Gabriel’s began the next chapter in its history, the parishioners were challenged, as have all parishioners in the Diocese of Albany.

Upon Father Leo Markert’s retirement in July 2007, Bishop Howard Hubbard named Mrs. Annette Brooks from St. Ambrose Church in Latham as St. Gabriel’s Parish Life Director (PLD) and Rev. James Belogi and Rev. Robert Powhida as the Sacramental Ministers. Thus, St. Gabriel and St. Madeleine Sophie parishes were linked and would share spiritual and physical events as needs arose.

In October 2006, the 27-month process “Called to be Church” was initiated in the Diocese by the Bishop. Individual church committees were formed and after many meetings and discussions, their recommendations were submitted to the Bishop for his review. The final decision as to which churches would be closed, merged or linked would come later.

Anxiously awaiting the Bishop’s decision, in January 2009, he announced that St. Gabriel’s would remain linked to St. Madeleine Sophie with Annette Brooks continuing as the Parish Life Director and Fathers James Belogi and Robert Powhida as the Sacramental Ministers.

During this period, changes in Mass schedule and personnel have occurred. However, many of our activities in church and school have remained. These include potluck and soup suppers, craft fairs, senior luncheons, card parties, Communion Mass and Supper, Living Nativity, Youth Stations of the Cross, Reconciliation, First Communion and Confirmation. New events were tackled and proved to be successful: Festa, in September to honor St. Gabriel’s feast day, Giffy’s barbecue, Lenten Friday fish dinners and activities and retreats in the school involving multigenerations such as Girl’s and Boy’s Night Out.

St. Gabriel’s and St. Madeleine Sophie will continue as two parishes linked in faith, worship, service and community. In this phase of our changing church, parishioners were being challenged to keep St. Gabriel’s vibrant and alive! How? Who? Look in the mirror!

Gloria Halstead, Historian: May, 2009

Parish History: May 2009 to January 1, 2011

The proposals of January 2009 accepted by Bishop Howard Hubbard in the Called to be Church Initiative continue to move forward and influence and challenge the daily lives of St. Gabriel’s parishioners. Thus begins the next chapter in St. Gabriel’s history.

With Annette Brooks as Parish Life Director (PLD) and Rev. James Belogi and Rev. Robert Powhida as the Sacramental Ministers, the two parishes continue to deepen their linkage by sharing spiritual and physical events.

A major change that effected the youth this year was the combining of the Faith Formation Programs. The program has one Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation as head and two Assistant Pastoral Associates, one for each parish. This change was scheduled for 2012, but because of the retirement of Srs. Marilyn Hickey, RSM and Sheila Christensen, RSM, it was moved to May 2010. Thus, Donna Simone, was selected as the Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation (DRE) for St. Gabriel’s Church and St. Madeleine’s Church, and Alex Saucedo was selected as the Assistant Pastoral Associate for St. Gabriel’s Church. This combined effort strengthened the program to educate the youth who are an important ingredient in the future of the church.

In another change Childhood Friends, Inc., a Pre-School program with Alison Cozzolino as head, featured a ½ day Summer Session for children ages 3-10, an After School Program for K-5th grade and Pre-K Program for 3 and 4 year olds. These programs strengthened the faith and knowledge not only of the youth, but the adult parishioners.

Additionally, St. Gabriel’s and St. Madeleine Sophie’s parishes joined all parishes in the Diocese in a special Evangelization Initiative, Amazing God. This three year plan which began in 2010 included the themes ‘God is Love’ Fall 2010 to Pentecost 2011, ‘The Heart of Christ’ Fall 2011 to Pentecost 2012, and ‘Filled with the Spirit’ Fall 2012 to Pentecost 2013.

Consequently, in the year 2010 the two parishes became linked more deeply because of the sharing of new Mass schedules, the Easter Triduum, as well as Liturgical ministers and personnel.

Therefore, from the Called to be Church Initiative, St. Gabriel and St. Madeleine Sophie’s have experienced more changes, but more importantly, they have continued to share Faith, Worship, Service and Community. Together they continue to do the work of God.


“Yesterday is History
Tomorrow is the Future
Today is the Present
– a Gift From God”
The Present will help lead us to the Future of St. Gabriel’s!

Gloria Halstead, Historian: January 1, 2011