No Roman Catholic Parish in the latter-day history of New York City was started around more primitive surroundings than that of St. Kevin. When the late Msgr. John Delea was called to establish the parish in 1926, 90% of the land that is now Auburndale was either farmland or woodland.
In the short space of 32 years – short, that is, as primitive history goes – the section has sprung from primitive land to one of the most heavily populated sections of Queens. And, it was the establishment of St. Kevin Parish which brought more families to live here.
“With what wisdom the late Archbishop Thomas E. Molloy foresaw the growth of St. Kevin Parish is evident in a description of the land which made up Auburndale when he called Msgr. Delea to the Episcopal Residence in Brooklyn and told him: “Father Delea, this will be your new parish. Yours is the fast-growing borough in New York City and your parish, now only farms and woods, will one day take its place among the largest in our diocese. Grow with your parish. Plan well.”
Msgr. Delea at that time was well known throughout Queens as “Father Delea.” He had served in Astoria and when called to start the new parish was assigned to the adjoining parish of St. Andrew Avellino. He planned well – and quickly. After getting the signal to “Go Ahead” from his bishop, Father Delea got things underway in a hurry. Wherever he looked in the expanse of his new parish, the new pastor saw little in the way of homes. But there was one house and he chose that to “start” his parish. That was a house on 194th Street north of Northern Boulevard which Father Delea selected for his first “church.” It was a two-story frame building – still standing, incidentally, and now known as 42-26 194th Street. The new pioneer-pastor decided that he would have Masses on the first floor of his new house and would have his “rectory” upstairs.