Our Parish History
During the Industrial Age, as manufacturing grew in Broome County and began to expand westward, the need for a place for new Catholic residents to worship was evident. They took a long trolley ride to Lestershire (later named Johnson City) to attend Mass at St. James. The pastor Rev. James F. Foy wisely bought property in what was to become the village of Endicott for the site of a future church. In the meantime, Passionist Fathers from Scranton, Pa., came up to the area and opened a mission on October 15, 1906 in the former fire station on Washington Avenue.
George F. Johnson, president of Endicott-Johnson -- a shoe manufacturer, wanted to build his new home on the property Father Foy purchased for a church. (Today this is the site of the George F. Johnson Memorial Library.) He donated property he owned on the southeastern corner of the intersection of Washington Avenue and Broad Street after being allowed to buy the property he sought.
St. Ambrose Parish began in 1908 as a mission parish from St. James. Our first pastor was Rev. Ambrose M. Dwyer, then also the pastor of St. James. He named our parish for his patron saint. The parish at this time was said to number 25 families (mostly Irish settlers who moved north from Pennsylvania). Before the church was constructed, Mass was said in the former Van Scoy store on North Street (now the IBM School site).
On July 12, 1908, the cornerstone of our church was blessed by the Most Rev. Patrick A. Ludden—the first bishop of the Syracuse Diocese. Although construction of the church was not completed, Masses were allowed to be said inside beginning March 10, 1909. The building was dedicated on June 20, 1909, but installation of stained glass windows continued through at least 1913.
As the population of Endicott grew rapidly, St. Ambrose was able to gain its independence from St. James on Aug. 15, 1915. Rev. John V. Byrne was named the second pastor. Following the immigration boom to the area, mainly workers for Endicott Johnson arriving from Italy and Eastern Europe, ethnic parishes were established in Endicott to serve their needs. In the case of all of these parishes, facilities at St. Ambrose were offered for their use until churches were built.
By the time the third pastor was named to St. Ambrose, Rev. James P. McPeak, the church underwent a major expansion from 1922-1923 to be able to house all the parishioners. A beautiful pillared sanctuary was added, making the shape of the building in the form of a cross, with apse for a headpiece, the transepts for arms and the nave for longer sections.
George F. Johnson again played a key role in this expansion, donating money to help cover costs and purchase a new Skinner organ -- called the "Cadillac model" of its day. Johnson's wife, Mary McGlone Johnson, was a parishioner. On November 9, 1923, Bishop Daniel Curley rededicated the expanded church.
Under the direction of its fifth pastor, Msgr. Alexis L. Hopkins, St. Ambrose opened both an elementary school, St. Ambrose School, and a high school, Seton Catholic High School. The elementary school has since closed and the high school is now the All Saints at Seton Middle School. (The high school combined with Catholic Central High School in Binghamton to become Seton Catholic Central High School at the Binghamton campus.)
Rev. Ambrose M. Dwyer, 1907-1915; 1917-1918;
Rev. John V. Byrne, 1915-1917;
Rev. James P. McPeak, 1918-1923;
Rev. Henry F. Curtin, 1923-1929;
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Alexis L. Hopkins, 1929-1958;
Rev. Lawrence J. Sheehan, 1958-1965;
Rt. Rev. Msgr. John E. Carey, 1965-1985;
Rev. John E. Fetcho, 1979-1991 (co-pastor until 1985);
Rev. David A. Pichette, 1991-1993;
Rev. Robert G. Tierney, 1993-1998;
Rev. Peter M. Creed, 1998-2002;
Rev. Charles A. Currie, 2002-2012;
Rev. Donald E. Bourgeois, 2012-2017;
Rev. Michael P. Galuppi, 2017-present.