As the Catholic presence in Flushing began to flourish, Father Michael Curran, the pastor of St. Paul Parish on East 117 Street in Harlem, would take the ferry to Astoria and then travel to Flushing to celebrate Mass and unite the Catholic community.
In 1841, the present St. Michael Parish began as a mission and, as was often the custom, the first burials took place on land adjacent to the church located at the corner of Madison Avenue and Union Street.
During the summer of 1862, at the height of the Civil War, Father O’Beime, the pastor of St. Michael Parish, established Mt. St. Mary Cemetery by procuring six acres comprised of portions of the Moore and McCoon Farm.
On July 12, 1863, Bishop John Loughlin, the first bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, consecrated the new cemetery grounds and eleven days later, on July 23rd, the first interment was that of William Goodwin.
At some later date, most of the remains were removed from St. Michael’s churchyard cemetery and reinterred in Mount St. Mary Cemetery.
Further expansion occurred in 1899, when Father Eugene J. Donnelly, then pastor of St. Michael Parish, acquired thirty acres from Isaac Smith. in 1930, three farms, comprising of eighteen acres surrounded by the cemetery, were added to serve as additional cemetery grounds.
For many years, this cemetery was restricted for the use of parishioners of the original St. Michael Parish, but this restriction had been lifted so that Catholics throughout the diocese would have access to this beautiful cemetery now totaling 53.6 acres of land.
In 2007, Mt. St. Mary Cemetery was transferred from the Diocese of Brooklyn to Saint John’s Cemetery Corporation to enhance the supervision and operation of the cemetery. The Saint John’s Cemetery Corporation was created in 1872 by a special act of the New York State Legislature at the request of the first bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop John Loughlin, for the newly established St. John’s Cemetery Located in Middle Village, NY. Today it owns and operates all the cemeteries for the Brooklyn Diocese.
Among the many interments made in Mt. St. Mary Cemetery, there is one Bishop, Edmund J. Reilly. He grew up in College Point, Queens and served as an auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn from 1955 to 1958.
When the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Brentwood Congregation were established on Long Island, their first Motherhouse was in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. By 1860, the Sisters had arrived in Flushing where their Motherhouse was located for many years and so Mt. St. Mary Cemetery served the burial needs of the congregation for some time. Among the sisters buried in the St. Joseph community plot are the congregation’s first three leaders: Mother Austin Kean, Mother Baptista Hanson and Mother Teresa Mullen. Although not the leader of the Brooklyn Diocesan Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Mother Mary DeChantal Keating deserves special mention. Coming from County Tipperay, Ireland, she entered the novitiate of the congregation at St. Mary’s Convent, Grand Street, in Williamsburg in 1857. She volunteered to serve at the Wheeling, West Virginia Community as its nurse and director of a hospital for the soldiers of both the union and the confederacy during the Civil War. She was awarded a medal from the Grand Army of the Republic in 1904 for her service.