Like everyone else in the church, Father Cunningham shed many tears during the Mass. “I’m not crying because I don’t want to go to Holy Name. I’m crying because of how much [I’ll miss being here].” He added, “It was the greatest honor and joy in life to be your pastor.” Photos by Miriam Rosenberg
“Hello, I’m Father Jim, and I used to be your pastor.” With that comment, which drew laugher from the crowd in St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, the ice was broken and the Farewell Mass for Thanksgiving began as Far Rockaway said goodbye to Father James Cunningham last week as he leaves for Holy Name Church in Brooklyn. It was an evening filled with laugher, tears, music and memories for the parishioners of St. Mary Star of the Sea and St. Gertrude Parish as well as for Father Cunningham, who had presided as first pastor for the past eight years.
Father Jim receives citations from City Councilman James Sanders Jr. and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer’s chief of state, Joann Shapiro. The pastor also was presented with a citation from the Office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.
During the Patronal Feast a group of parishioners gather around Father Cunningham for a group photo.
Parishioners and clergy watch as a young boy, through tears, expressed what Father Jim has meant to him.
St. Mary Star of the Sea was jammed with people on September 8. Among those present was the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct, Captain Michael Lipetri, and members of his staff.
Cunningham presents flowers to his mother.
Cunningham performs his final communion service during the Mass. To the left is the new temporary administrator of the church, the Reverend Monsignor John J. Bracken.