The History of St. James the Apostle in Trumansburg, N.Y.

Native Americans were the original humans in the area now known as the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. The people who lived in the Finger Lakes area between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, which includes Trumansburg, were members the Cayuga Tribe. The Native American religion practiced by the Cayuga Tribe members was largely nature based, with the idea of one Great Spirit. During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries French Jesuit missionaries arrived to introduce Christianity to the Native Americans. Eventually most members of the Cayuga Tribe, devastated by the Sullivan campaign through the heart of their land during the American Revolution, either died or left the area to be replaced by the incoming Europeans who were predominantly of the Christian religion.

In 1789, Pope Pius VI established the first Roman Catholic diocese within the boundaries of the original United States at Baltimore. In 1808, the Diocese of Baltimore was divided into a number of other dioceses. One of these new dioceses was the Diocese of New York that included all of New York State and the northern half of New Jersey. In 1847, Pope Pius IX divided the Diocese of New York into three dioceses, one of which was the Diocese of Buffalo, the diocese to which Tompkins County was assigned. In 1868, Pope Pius IX took eight counties from within the Diocese of Buffalo, Tompkins County included, to form the Diocese of Rochester, the diocese to which St. James parish belongs to this day.[1]

The first Catholics settled in the neighboring communities of Interlaken (then called Farmer Village), Ovid, and Trumansburg in the late 1830’s and during the 1840’s. These early Catholics were mainly immigrants from Ireland who worked in the local stone quarries, farmland, and railroad. Initially there were but three Catholic families in Trumansburg, along with another twenty-two families in the surrounding area, including Farmer Village. These families were dependent on traveling priests who would conduct Mass in various homes. There is one historical record that shows a Father McBride of Waterloo offering Mass in the Trumansburg home of Lawrence Birney and another shows a Father Donahue saying Mass in Trumansburg in 1844.[2] After that, for about six years, services were held by Father McCool until he was succeeded by the Father Farrell who provided Catholic services for about four months. He in turn was followed by Father Toohey, who visited the Trumansburg area at regular intervals for five years. When a priest was not available the families would travel by foot or horseback to attend Mass in either Ithaca or Auburn.

By the mid 1850s, there was a large and growing Catholic community in the local communities and each felt the need of a permanent place of worship with a resident priest in their own community. Father Gilbride began with the construction of Holy Cross Church in Ovid. When Father Gilbride died in 1854, Father William Gleason became pastor of Waterloo, Ovid, and Trumansburg, and was instructed by Bishop Timon of the Buffalo Diocese to purchase a site for a church in Trumansburg.

In 1856 Father Gleason arranged for the purchase of the old Methodist Church, originally built in 1831, in the village of Trumansburg. Beginning in 1854 the building was made into the Catholic Church of St. James the Apostle, retrofitted to meet their special needs. Lawrence Birney, who had previously hosted Mass in his home, did most of the masonry work in preparing the new church building.

Trumansburg’s early Catholic settlers chose to name their church after St. James the Apostle, often referred to as St. James the Greater. St. James was a son of Zebedee and the brother of John, the “beloved disciple” (John 20:2). James and his brother were present at all major moments in Christ’s ministry, including the Transfiguration, the Last Supper, and the Agony in Gethsemane. Together they were given the nickname “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, James is believed to have preached the Gospel in Spain. Upon returning to Judea in 44 A.D., he was put to death by Herod Agrippa.[3] In addition to being patron saint for the Trumansburg parish, St. James is the patron saint of Spain and of pilgrims. His feast day is celebrated on July 25 and the Trumansburg parishioners continue a tradition of a parish picnic on or near his feast day.

Holy Cross Church in Ovid and the remodeled church of St. James the Apostle in Trumansburg were both dedicated in 1857 by Bishop John Timon. At the time of the dedication of the church in Trumansburg, it became one of two mission churches of Immaculate Conception Parish in Ithaca. Clergymen from Immaculate Conception conducted services at irregular intervals until Bishop McQuaid, the first bishop of Rochester, made St. James Church in Trumansburg an independent parish in 1872. The Catholics of Farmer Village were then detached from the Ovid-Waterloo parish to become part of the parish of St. James in Trumansburg. Between Trumansburg and Farmer Village, there were about eighty-five families in the parish.

The first pastor of St. James Parish in 1872 was Father Gilbert Nuonno, or Father Gilbert as he was called by his parishioners. Fr. Gilbert had been visiting the area since 1870 to offer Mass and other sacraments. There is evidence that he was a Franciscan, as the Catholic Directory of 1868 lists a Gilbert Nuonno, O.S.F., stationed in St. Anthony of Padua Church in New York City. Fr. Gilbert possibly came to Trumansburg in answer to a call from Bishop McQuaid for Italian priests in New York City to help in the new diocese of Rochester.

Under Fr. Gilbert’s tenure the church buildings in Trumansburg and Farmer Village were completed. Immaculate Conception Church donated St. James’s altar, made of Italian marble. Fr. Gilbert also purchased the present parsonage in Trumansburg, with furniture donated by the parishioners. In 1874 Fr. Gilbert purchased three acres, just outside the Trumansburg village boundaries, for a Catholic cemetery. Bishop McQuaid consecrated the cemetery on June 4 of that year. At the time, a twelve grave lot sold for $20. Fr. Gilbert also began fundraising to erect what would become St. Francis Solanus Church in Farmer Village. Bishop McQuaid consecrated St. Francis in 1875.

Fr. Gilbert organized a men’s group that, among other things, provided services for fellow parishioners in need. They also sponsored numerous social events in the parish, including a St. Patrick’s celebration that sent its proceeds to help “the poor in Ireland.”[4] A St. Patrick’s event continued to be held in the St. James parish for many years, though the proceeds were no longer sent to Ireland.

In 1876 Fr. Gilbert encountered some opposition from members of the Trumansburg congregation and, in response, he offered his resignation to Bishop McQuaid and asked to be reassigned. He left the area to move to Wisconsin in November 1877 after baptizing 130 children and celebrating the marriages of thirty-eight couples in Trumansburg and Farmer Village. There were now 179 families in the parish, including those attending the church in Farmer Village. Before he left Fr. Gilbert sold cemetery lots at half price to pay off the remaining debt he had incurred in purchasing the property for the cemetery.

Reverend Algelo Lugero, a priest of the Diocese of Rochester, succeeded Fr. Gilbert. He would serve as pastor in Trumansburg for four years before being transferred to Victor, NY, in July 1881. He was succeeded by Reverend Michael T. Madden.

Fr. Madden was pastor of St. James for twenty-eight years. At one point Bishop McQuaid considered promoting him to a larger parish but a delegation from Trumansburg traveled to Rochester to petition the Bishop to allow their “beloved Pastor”[5] to remain at St. James. The bishop acquiesced to their request and allowed Fr. Madden to stay with the parish. He traveled around the parish by house and buggy though, when bad weather made the roads impassable, he would travel by rail to say Mass at St. Francis. Sometimes he would have to wait several hours for a return car, but the congregation at St. James would patiently wait for him to return to say Mass in Trumansburg.

The Original St. James church on Main Street in Trumansburg

In 1895, during Fr. Madden’s tenure as Pastor, the church was moved from its original location on Main St. to its present location on Whig Street. At the same time the church was completely remodeled at a cost of over $2,000 dollars. Part of that money was raised from selling the original lot on Main St. and the rest was raised by a loan secured by a mortgage on the Whig St. property. As part of the renovation, the church building became connected to the parsonage by a covered veranda opening into the vestry and private chapel. In the main church the seating capacity was increased by one-third, it became the first church in Trumansburg to have electric power, and the old tower was replaced with a symmetrical spire topped with a cross. In 1886 Bishop McQuaid formally dedicated the new St. James the Apostle church in an elaborate ceremony that lasted over three hours. Bishop Hickey would transfer Fr. Madden to Phelps, New York, twenty-three years later.

Reverend Thomas J. Harrington from Ovid, who became pastor of St. James in 1909, replaced Fr. Madden. He was remembered as being a “very large man with a tart sense of humor.”[6] He would often give fire and brimstone type sermons while pacing back and forth in front of the altar. But he was also remembered for his charity. Whenever a person was in need, whether they were Catholic or not, Fr. Harrington would always provide them with what they needed, often from his own funds.

The parish seemed to shrink during Fr. Harrington’s time, to about thirty-five families. The Forty Hours devotions, started with the previous pastor, continued with Fr. Harrington. The church would be filled to capacity during these devotions, demonstrating how many Catholics still lived in the community.

Fr. Harrington owned a beautiful racehorse that he used to travel around his parish though, later in his tenure, he became the first pastor to own an automobile. In 1920 he was transferred to Addison, NY.

Reverend E. Joseph Esser succeeded Fr. Harrington as pastor. At only thirty-four years old, he was a relatively young priest and this was his first parish. Fr. Esser arrived on a cold November night when, having walked from the railroad station, he was handed a key by a stranger on the parsonage porch and then left alone in a cold house with no supplies. The parish had not been informed of his arrival.

Fr. Esser was described as a slender and dignified person. “Although not a gregarious person, like so many of his Irish congregation, the children and members who worked with him found him a very kind, thoughtful, and warm person with a good sense of humor.”[7] In 1922 he organized the Altar Society of St. James, which met monthly for lunch with the pastor. The society cared for the altar, sewed altar linens, and provided fund raising for the parish’s needs.

During his pastorate, Fr. Esser made many improvements to the church and rectory. These changes included adding an addition to the rectory for the housekeeper, and a pipe organ purchased from the Methodist Church in nearby Watkins Glen. The church was also completely rewired, including an electric blower for the organ. Edward Murphy bequeathed $100 to the church and the residue of his estate was left to purchase a lot in the cemetery and build a mausoleum. This is the only mausoleum in the St. James cemetery and continues to be a focal point of the grounds there.

Before he was transferred to Victor, NY, in 1935, Fr. Esser had baptized forty-five people and performed seventeen marriages. On the day Fr. Esser left, February 1, Reverend G. Stuart Hogan arrived to take up residence as the new pastor.

Fr. Hogan had been an assistant pastor at the Sacred Heart Church in Rochester and then chaplain at the University of Rochester’s Women’s College and the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Church records indicate that Fr. Hogan was “a man ahead of his time in ecumenical thought and practice.”[8] Like many towns and villages in America in those days, Catholics were a minority in Trumansburg and kept largely to themselves. Fr. Hogan reached out to the community and his activities endeared him to the village, so much so that the mayor asked him to serve on the village board. The Bishop, however, asked him to decline the kind offer.

Fr. Hogan was an “enthusiastic promoter of the Catholic press”[9] and initiated the practice that continues to this day, of the parish providing a subscription so each parish household could receive the Catholic Courier. Fr. Hogan also started the vacation Bible school, another tradition that continues to this day, though in his time it included students from Farmer Village (now called Interlaken).

Considered quite a religious zealot, Fr. Hogan made a number of converts each year. During the year he started at St. James there were only three baptisms and only one the year before. By 1945 he had the number up to forty, of whom half were converts.

Meanwhile, work on the church buildings and grounds continued. The Church basement was remodeled, complete with piping to take care of spring flooding, so it could be used for social events. A new organ was purchased with donations and the rectory was refurnished. Due in part to Fr. Hogan’s interest in gardening, the church properties were embellished with the addition of parish gardens, providing flowers both for the church altar and everyone’s enjoyment.

In 1935 the great flood occurred in the village of Trumansburg, drowning two people including a parishioner. A second family, the Bennetts, had their home washed off its foundation and into the creek while they were still inside. Fearing they would drown, Fr. Hogan overcame his fear of heights to cross the railroad trestle over the creek to reach the family and give them final absolution. He stayed and prayed with them throughout the day until the floodwaters receded and all could be safely rescued.

In November of 1945 Fr. Hogan was reassigned to be the pastor of St. Mary’s in Geneseo, New York. Reverend Francis J. Pegnam served as administrator until Reverend Leonard A. Kelly could arrive on Christmas Eve of that year to take over as pastor. Before Fr. Pegnam left he arranged for one of the first ecumenical programs in the village, a midnight Mass celebrated with the help of the Methodist choir. Fr Kelly arrived just in time to join in that celebration.

Father Leonard Kelly, a pioneer in the development of catechetical facilities for public school students, became pastor of Trumansburg and Interlaken when he took up his duties on Christmas Day, 1945. Fr. Kelly arrived in Trumansburg from four years of active duty in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a chaplain in San Francisco. Previous to enlisting in the navy he had been a professor of religion at Nazareth College in Rochester.

Work on refurbishing the grounds and buildings of the parish continued with Fr. Kelly. In 1946 the main church was redone, with a new altar installed and new statues donated by parishioners. A new sanctuary railing was also installed, part of the railing removed from St. Augustine’s Church in Rochester. On November 3, 1946, Bishop Kearney celebrated Mass in the refurbished church, celebrating the fiftieth year since the church building was dedicated.

In 1947 the Altar Society became the Women’s Guild and the organization under that name continues their work to this day. Also in that year a Men’s Club for both St. James and St. Francis was also started. Both groups served a social function for the parish and also provided fund-raising activities for the parish. At one point the Men’s group decided to abandon the church basement as a social hall. Instead, they opted to build a room that would connect the rectory and the sacristy. The pine panel hall, designated for meetings and catechetical instruction, continues in that capacity to this day.

On January 28, 1949, a fire completely destroyed most of the church, including the sanctuary. Only the steeple and front façade remained standing. Bishop Kearney allowed Fr. Kelly to appeal to the entire diocese of Rochester for assistance in the rebuilding costs, with tremendous response. The parish also organized their own drive, with $20,000 pledged by sixty-five families in the parish by February 10 of that year. In October the work began on rebuilding the church, with Fr. Kelly acting as contractor. While the church was under construction, Sunday Mass was held in the Burg Theater in the Village, owned by a parishioner. Daily mass was held in the rectory. On June 11, 1950, Bishop Kearney came to St. James to offer a dedication Mass for the new church. Within three years the parish attendance had grown to such an extent that a new parking lot was purchased at the corner of Whig and South streets. In June 1954, Fr. Kelly was transferred to be the pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Fairport, NY. His successor was Reverend Francis A. Marks.

The new pastor for Trumansburg and Interlaken, Fr. Marks, came to St. James from the seminary of St. Andrew’s where he had been a member of the faculty. St. James was his first parish. He changed the Men’s Society’s to the Holy Name Society, but it became inactive in the early 1960’s. The Women’s Guild also was convinced to change their name to the Altar and Rosary Society.

Fr. Marks began planning for the renovations at St. Francis Solanus Church in Farmer Village, now called Interlaken. Before the plans of Father Marks could be executed, Bishop Kearney decided to separate St. Francis Solanus Mission Church from St. James Parish in Trumansburg. St. Francis Solanus Mission was made St. Francis Solanus Parish and entrusted to the care of the Capuchin Fathers residing at St. Fidelis Friary.[10]

The coming of the Capuchin Friars to the area in 1951 was significant for all the local churches, including St. James Church in Trumansburg. “A chronicle reports that in 1951 the Capuchin Fathers purchased Shadow Lawn. On June 14, Rev. Bede Scully, O.F.M. Cap. came to Interlaken to open the new house. On June 17th the Capuchin Fathers began Sunday work in the parishes of Interlaken and Trumansburg.”[11]

The Capuchin Franciscans are a branch of the Franciscan Order, which was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. Capuchin Franciscans have been in North America since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when they served as military chaplains and missionaries working among the Native Americans. By 1950, the province had grown so large that it stretched from the Midwest to the East Coast and included New York State. Since it became a friary in 1951, St. Fidelis Friary actually predates by one year the Province of St. Mary, to which the friars presently residing there belong. In 1952 St. Joseph Province was divided in two, and the new Province of St. Mary included New York, the New England states and the mission territories of Mariana Islands and Ryukyu Islands.[12] There are currently eight provinces and about 1,000 Capuchin Franciscan friars in North America, with four Capuchin Friars of the Province of St. Mary presently living in the St. Fidelis Friary in Sheldrake and serving the parishes in Ovid, Interlaken, and Trumansburg.

Back in Trumansburg with Fr. Marks, the church’s remaining dept of $13,00 was retired. A statue of “Our Lady of Grace” was imported from Italy and erected on the side lawn of the rectory, where she remains to this day.

“The statue was intended to serve as a focal point to parishioners and members of the community as a symbol of our honor, love, and devotion to our Lady.”[13]

Fr. Marks also started a pledge drive to raise funds for the parish, with hopes of eventually having catechetical nuns in residence year round instead of just during the Vacation Bible School week in the summer. He also hoped to eventually erect a parochial school in Trumansburg. The pledge drive eventually gathered over $5,000 in pledges, and was considered a success, even if it was not sufficient to start a school.

In 1957 Bishop Kearney returned to Trumansburg to celebrate the centennial of the first Roman Catholic Church in Trumansburg. Three years later he would transfer Fr. Marks to St. Catharine’s Church in Addison, NY.

Reverend Bernard Hanna succeeded Fr. Marks and was welcomed to the parish with a reception during a terrible snowstorm. Even so, over 170 people managed to navigate the drifting snow in order to welcome their new pastor. Fr. Hanna had been a pastor at numerous rural churches in the Rochester diocese before coming to Trumansburg. A former Navy chaplain and Lt. Commander during the war, Fr. Hanna became the chaplain in the American Legion Post in Trumansburg.

Fr. Hanna helped start a Catholic Youth Organization, providing many spiritual and social events for the young people in the parish. The Women’s Guild, reverting to their previous name, also continued their good works on behalf of the parish.

In 1964 Fr. Hanna became gravely ill and the Capuchin Fathers in Sheldrake assisted with saying Masses and providing for the spiritual needs of the parish. When it became clear Fr. Hanna would not be able to resume his duties, an administrator was appointed. Reverend Eugene McFarland served as the administrator of the St. James parish from April to August 1965. The people of St. James “were disappointed when he was not appointed to succeed Fr. Hanna.”[14]

Reverend Lawrence W. Sansom was the next pastor for St. James, from Holy Family Church in Auburn where he had been the assistant pastor. Fr. Sansom was described as “a very congenial man with a smile for everyone.”[15] He was also very tall, well over six feet, so his “younger altar boys were always sure to keep one pace ahead of him when serving Holy Communion to avoid being stepped on.”[16]

6Many directives from Vatican II began to be implemented under Fr. Sanson’s guidance. Instead of turning the altar around to face the congregation, a new one was built, duplicating the carvings on the mail altar that remained in place at the back of the sanctuary. Mass began to be said in English and there was active lay participation during Mass.

In 1967 the nuns who had been assisting with religious education to the children of the parish announced that they would no longer be able to continue. Laywomen took courses in catechetical methods and theology and took over the responsibility for teaching children during church school on Sunday mornings. By 1968 the parish had grown to include nearly 200 families. In 1969 the parish women held the first of their annual bazaars, a practice that continues to this day, raising funds to help the parish.

In June of 1970 F. Sansom was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s in Watkins Glen. Reverend Albert V. Ryan became the new pastor. Fr. Ryan had been an assistant pastor at a number of parishes in the Rochester Diocese. Under his direction at St. James, the religious education program was extended into a catechetical school with volunteers serving as principal, helpers, and teachers. In 1972 Bishop Hogan appointed Fr. Ryan to be the regional coordinator for the work of the church in Tioga County, as well as in Tompkins County.

In keeping with the directives that came out of Vatican II, a Parish Council was formed, one of the first in the diocese, as an advisory group for the pastor. The concept of the Parish Council was explained to the parishioners with the help of Sr. Callister of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heard who helped them formulate the structure of the council. The parishioners now had “a positive role in the formation of policies and decisions”[17] in their parish through their lay representatives on the council.

The parish community now numbered 153 families. The Women’s Guild continued their work, adding a communion breakfast in the spring and continuing the bazaar in the fall. Women of the parish also assisted the priest in visiting sick and elderly members of the parish who were unable to attend Mass.

In 1972 the parishioners celebrated the centenary of their parish in Trumansburg. As the pastor, Fr. Ryan, wrote in October of that year, “We rejoice in the fact that our parish has been the means of grace for one hundred years.” He then challenged his parishioners to “carry on and bring to perfection what others had begun and handed on to us.”[18] The Bishop of Rochester, Bishop Hogan, wrote to Fr. Ryan to indicate his presence at the celebration scheduled for Sunday, October 15. He then continued his letter by saying, in part, “We who live today to celebrate have inherited a rich legacy from the pioneers and the succeeding generations who kept alive the light of faith in this area.”[19] The Centennial report on the parish concludes with this paragraph:

“During all its one hundred years as a parish, St. James the Apostle Church, through the spiritual leadership and guidance of its pastors, served as a centerfor the daily lives of the Catholic community in Trumansburg and surrounding farms. The congregation has much to be thankful for and a cause to celebrate this Centennial year.”[20]

Fr. Ryan was a man of strong beliefs who many both loved and disliked. Eventually letters were sent to the bishop and he was transferred. Reverend Robert Kanka succeeded him in 1990.

Father Kanka, the last diocesan priest assigned to Trumansburg, was a soft-spoken man who loved the village of Trumansburg. He especially enjoyed going to dinner at various parishioner’s houses and they so enjoyed his company he rarely ate alone. In gratitude for his service, and acknowledging his love for the village, the Parish Council purchased a burial plot and stone for him in St. James Cemetery when he retired in 1994. Fr. Kanka returned to be buried there in 2012.


When Fr. Kanka retired in 1994 the diocese attempted to replace him with a pastoral administrator, one of the first in the diocese. In a heated meeting with diocesan officials that lasted for hours, it became clear that the parishioners were very insistent about their need for a priest and vocal about their fears that, with no priest in residence, they would lose access to the sacraments. Fortunately the parish was able to reach an agreement with the Capuchin priests in Sheldrake, who were already providing pastors in Ovid and Interlaken. Fr. John O’Hare, OFM  Cap., became the first Capuchin pastor of St. James at Trumansburg. He would remain the pastor until his death in 1996, when Father Eugene O’Hara, OFM Cap., was assigned to take his place as pastor of the Trumansburg parish. He would serve in this capacity until 2006 when he retired to the friary and Fr. John Tokaz, OFM Cap., became the pastor. Fr. O’Hara continues to serve Mass at St. James when the pastor is out of town. In August of 2014 Fr. Bernard M. Maloney, OFM Cap, became pastor of St. James the Apostle. His duties also include serving as superior of the friary, in addition to managing St. James parish and cemetery.

Work on the church buildings continue. New wood doors on the main entrance to the church were carved by a parishioner. The carvings incorporate some the carved motifs found inside the church, along with a dove and the shell symbol for St. James. To protect the doors a portico was built at the front of the church. A new roof was recently put on the main church building and the church’s cross, damaged by a lightening strike, was replaced with a new one created by a parishioner, Bill Hogan. The water problems in the basements of the church buildings, endemic to structures on the south side of the village, continue to be addressed.

A few years ago the parishes of Ovid, Interlaken, and Trumansburg were part of a diocesan pastoral planning group but continue to remain separate parishes. Without the priests provided by the Franciscan friary, one or all of the three churches might have been forced to reduce its Mass schedules and one or more would have possibly closed or merged.

As of 2012 there were 421 baptized Catholics in the parish of St. James the Apostle in Trumansburg, New York, and 232 registered families. There were eight baptisms that year, twelve received first communion, and fifteen were confirmed. The age distribution for the parishioners showed the largest grouping in two age groups: there were 186 ranging in ages from ten years to thirty-four, and 162 ranging in age from fifty-five to seventy-nine years old. Of the total parish population, ninety-three were White/Anglo/Caucasian, two were African American/Black/Persons of African descendent, and five registered as Hispanic/Latino.[21]

The Catholic Courier did an article on St. James parish that highlighted how volunteer support “is the lifeblood of this parish.”[22] Father O’Hara, pastor at the time of the article, expressed his appreciation of the parish community. “They are very dedicated, very friendly and cooperative.” That continues to this day.

(December 2012, updated August 2014)

Pastors of St. James the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Trumansburg, N.Y.
Rev. James O’Connor (Ovid and Farmer Village)     1870–1872

Rev. Gilbert Nuonno (Trumansburg and Farmer Village)      1872–1877

Rev. Angelo Lugero (Trumansburg and Farmer Village)      1877–1881

Rev. Michael T. Madden (Trumansburg and Interlaken)      1881–1909

Rev. T. J. Harrington (Trumansburg and Interlaken)      1909–1920

Rev. E. Joseph Esser (Trumansburg and Interlaken)      1920–1935

Rev. G. Stuart Hogan (Trumansburg and Interlaken)      1935–1945

Rev. Leonard A. Kelly (Trumansburg and Interlaken      1945–1954

Rev. Francis A. Marks (Trumansburg and Interlaken)      1954–1960

Rev. Bernard C. Hanna     1960–1965

Rev. Lawrence W. Sansom     1966–1970

Rev. Albert V. Ryan     1970–1980

Rev. Robert Kanka     1980–1994

Fr. John O’Hare, OFM Cap     1994–1996

Fr. Eugene O’Hara, OFM Cap     1996–2006

Fr. John Tokaz, OFM Cap     2006–August 2014

Fr. Bernard M. Maloney, OFM Cap     August, 2014–2016 (when merged into Mary, Mother of Mercy parish)

Author’s note: Much of the information for this history is from an unpublished “A History of St. James the Apostle R.C. Church: In Honor of its 100th Anniversary as a Parish 1872-1972” located in the Church files. The 2012 author is indebted to the writers of the 1972 history: Eileen VanDemark and Lilla Licht.


[1] Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, “Diocesan History,” (accessed 12/6/12). Much of the information found in this paragraph, including the map image, is from that web page.

[2] “A History of St. James the Apostle R.C. Church: In Honor of its 100th Anniversary as a Parish 1872-1972,” (1972: a document located in the church files), 9.

[3] New Advent, “St. James the Greater,” (accessed 12/6/12).

[4] St. James History, 12.

[5] Ibid., 14.

[6] Ibid., 20.

[7] Ibid., 22.

[8] Ibid., 26.

[9] ibid., 27.

[10] St. Francis Solanus Church, Interlaken, New York, “The History of St. Francis Solanus Church, Interlaken, New York,” (accessed 12/6/12).

[11] Ibid

[12] Capuchin Franciscans, Province of St. Mary, “Province of St. Mary,” Web site for history of Province of St Mary, (accessed 12/6/12).

[13] St. James History, 36.

[14] Ibid., 39.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid., 42.

[18] Rev. Albert V. Ryan, Pastor, to “My Dear People, ” October, 1972, church files.

[19] Most Reverend Joseph L. Hogan, D.D., Bishop of Rochester, to Reverend Albert V. Ryan, St. James the Apostle Church, Trumansburg, New York, October 1972, church files.

[20] St. James History, 43.

[21] The statistics in this paragraph were pulled from the 2012 Kenedy/Diocesan Parish Profile located in the church files.

[22] Mike Latona, “Helping Hands are Aplenty at Tompkins Parish,” Catholic Courier, 111, 4 (October 26, 2000) 16.


Additional resources:

For history of Trumansburg:

St. Fidelis Friary:

Church building:

Field Guide to St. James the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, written and edited by V. Chiment and E. Sammon, © 2012.

St. Francis Solanus Parish in Interlaken (formerly Farmer Village):

St. James the Greater:

Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the Province of Mary:

History of the Diocese of Rochester:

Mass Times:

Weekday Liturgies:
Communion service at 9:00 a.m. at St. James the Apostle church.

Tuesday through Friday:
Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Francis Solanus church (Recitation of the Rosary begins at 8:00 a.m.)

NOTE: Weekday liturgies may be cancelled due to funerals or bad weather.

Weekend Masses:
4:00 p.m. at St. Francis Solanus, Interlaken

9:00 a.m. at St. James the Apostle, Trumansburg
10:30 a.m. at Holy Cross, Ovid

If you are unable to attend Mass in person due to health reasons, please see this list of ways to participate in Sunday Mass online.

Mass intentions: Those wishing to have someone remembered at a parish Mass may fill out a Mass Intentions Request form which is automatically submitted to the church office.

Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession:

Fridays, 6:30–7:30 p.m., at St. Francis Solanus church in Interlaken or by appointment with a priest.

Private Prayer:

• St. Francis Solanus Church in Interlaken is open at all times.
• St. James the Apostle Church in Trumansburg is open most days from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

© 2024 The Parish of Mary Mother of Mercy
3660 Orchard St., P.O. Box 403, Interlaken, NY 14847

St. James the Apostle, 17 Whig St, Trumansburg, NY
Holy Cross, 7231 Main Street, Ovid, N.Y.
St. Francis Solanus, 3660 Orchard St., Interlaken, N.Y.
Diocese of Rochester

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