Places that Matter

St. Cecilia's Parish

Virginia Parkhouse
Virginia Parkhouse
The second Catholic church in East Harlem
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Place Matters Profile

St. Cecila's was the second Roman Catholic church founded in East Harlem (1873), and it has always served a diverse parish. German and Irish parishioners in the 19th century gave way to a largely-Spanish speaking congregation in the 20th century. Its parochial school, the largest in the country in the 1940s, was staffed by the Redemptionist Fathers, an order with ties to Puerto Rico, and had a majority of Puerto Rican students.


Today the church primarily serves Latinos and African Americans. Its Romanesque Revival building features its patron saint depicted in terra cotta playing an organ. St. Cecilia's is a New York City landmark.