Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother was established in the summer of 1923. There was a park on 94th Street between 23rd and 24th Avenues known as Belvedere Park. Here the founder-pastor, Richard J. Hamilton celebrated the first Mass on July 7, 1923. The Parish began with about 500 parishioners.
The site upon which the Church now stands was Backus Farm. This would serve as an ideal location for the Church. So the first fundraising event took place almost immediately in the fall of 1923. It was so successful that the property was purchased, building plans drawn and the cornerstone of the church was laid by June 29, 1924. Within one and a half years all was accomplished so that the church was opened on January 1, 1925. What a testament to the enthusiasm of the first parishioners.
With the growth of the parish, there developed a need for a parish school. Ground was broken on April 30, 1939 with the Sisters of Charity of Mount St. Vincent agreeing to staff the school. School opened on September 9, 1940 and the new building along with the convent was awarded the architectural prize of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
St. Gabriel’s responsibility to the community expanded with the creation of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption at LaGuardia Airport. Mass was celebrated in hangers, meeting rooms, and the Kitty Hawk restaurant. A permanent chapel was never constructed resulting in the discontinuance of Mass there. However, St. Gabriel’s has continued to be the Church where travelers and airport employees come to worship.
In 1950, the year the rectory was completed, the Brothers of the Christian Schools were invited to join the teaching staff of the school and live in the old rectory. They arrived on September 4, 1952 and began a faithful relationship with St. Gabriel’s.