By Ed Masters
Thirty miles north of ‘the city that never sleeps,’ nestled in the lovely Hudson Valley, is the town of Sleepy Hollow. Formerly called ‘North Tarrytown,’ the place was made famous by Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Here stands a charming masonry church in the old English Gothic-style, thanks to the Episcopalians who constructed it in the 19th century. Since 1957, it has been Immaculate Conception Church, and for decades it was home to the Italian-speaking immigrant families who once were numerous there. The Latin Mass was celebrated in this parish until the liturgical changes imposed in the wake of Vatican II, more than 40 years ago.
A Tale of Unsung Heroes
How the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) came to Immaculate Conception is fascinating, as the tale involves the efforts of numerous Catholics, who are for the most part unsung heroes.
The original home of this Mass was not even in Sleepy Hollow but miles away at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. There, the TLM began circa 1988, thanks to the efforts of author and publisher Roger McCaffrey and Ecclesia Dei. The Mass was celebrated at the College at various times by such staunch defenders as Father John Perricone, Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro Carambula (who headed the Rome office of Human Life International) and the late Cardinal Ignatius Kung, who spent over 30 years imprisoned for the Faith in Communist China.
From there the TLM moved to the hamlet of Pocantico Hills, where it was celebrated at Magdalen Church from 1994 until 2001. It moved to its current home at Immaculate Conception Church thanks to former pastor Monsignor Louis Mazza. That same year, as the TLM settled in its new home, its future stability was virtually assured as it became affiliated with Una Voce1 International through the work of parishioners Ann and Peter Whelan.
When the TLM and its adherents arrived, Msgr. Louis Mazza gave the group three months to ‘make an impression’ if they wanted to remain there. They did so, and Msgr. Mazza was subsequently both helpful and supportive, even hearing Confessions for attendees at 2:30 on Sundays before Mass on a regular basis.
Immaculate Conception Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York
The Mass and it Beautiful Schola Today
These days, the Mass attracts 100-150 attendees on an average Sunday, with services held at 3:00 PM; Mass is celebrated later on Holy Days of Obligation. Since 2001, there has been an even influx and outgo of attendees, due mainly to economic conditions in New York State, and in that respect it proportionately reflects immigration to and emigration from NY State.
Having services at 3:00 PM may seem like an inconvenience to some, but consider the testimony of Tom McCardle, author and father of eight children and a regular attendee at Immaculate Conception.
“Having Mass at 3:00 PM means not having get up all these kids early on a Sunday morning,” says Mr. Mc Cardle, “they and other kids can sleep in and there’s no need to rush around and get them all ready for Mass.”
There are more than a few large families at Immaculate Conception; many are home schooled, and a handful of boys from these help out as altar servers. Older children volunteer to sing in the choir.
The schola at Immaculate Conception is a semiprofessional group that meets before Mass every Sunday to practice and refine their singing. When there is a Missa Cantata, some of the best professional singers in New York and Connecticut join them. Founded by David Hughes (now Music Director at St Mary’s Norwalk), it is now directed by Art Bryan Manabat.
HOW THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS (TLM) CAME TO IMMACULATE CONCEPTION IS FASCINATING, as the tale involves the efforts of numerous Catholics, who are for the most part unsung heroes.
Life Under the Eparchy of St. Maron
In 2013 Monsignor Louis Mazza retired as Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish. In August of 2014 the Archdiocese of New York sold the church property to the Eparchy of St. Maron in Brooklyn and its Ordinary, Bishop Gregory J. Mansour.
Father Dany Abi Akar, who is bi-ritual in both the Maronite Rite and the Novus Ordo, reassured Latin Rite parishioners there that there would be no changes in their Masses and that “Immaculate Conception would always be your church.”
Sundays see the Novus Ordo Mass celebrated there at 10:00 AM, the Maronite Rite celebrated at 11:30 AM and the Traditional Latin Mass said at 3:00 PM.
THE SCHOLA AT IMMACULATE CONCEPTION is a semiprofessional group that meets before Mass every Sunday to practice and refine their singing under the direction of Art Bryan Manabat.
PALM SUNDAY PROCESSION – Rev. Richard Trezza, O.Cap., Canon Jean Moreau, ICKSP, and Rev. Richard Munkelt.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ann Whelan
 Una Voce International was founded in 1964 in Rome to support the use of the 1962 Missal.