New York City: Saint Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church – “The Actors’ Chapel”
About Saint Malachy’s and the Actor’s Chapel:
Here in New York’s Theater District sits a church whose Mass schedule and ministry revolves around the Broadway actors and actresses that attend here.
Founded in 1902 as a traditional parish, it began to change as the theater district became established in the area. In effort to serve the evolving nature of the parish, in 1920 a chapel was built, now known as the “Actors’ Chapel”. Mass times, confessions and other missions were scheduled to accommodate those in the theater business. Services were set for times not normally seen in most parishes so that they might attend Mass.
Many in the theater became regular Mass attendees and often would light candles on opening night. Douglas Fairbanks and Joan Crawford were married here; Rudolph Valentino was eulogized here; Pat O’Brien served as an altar boy; Bob and Dolores Hope, Jimmy Durante, Perry Como and a long list of other show business personalities attended regularly.
Shown in the photo above is the “Artists’ Shrine” where many candles were lit, especially on opening nights.
In the 1970’s the area began to deteriorate as Madison Square Garden moved and legitimate businesses moved away, only to be replaced with porno shops and drug dealers…..prostitution was rampant and the Church was occasionally vandalized. It was not a place a person would like to wander around late at night, especially after seeing a Broadway play.
In 1976, Father George W. Moore was assigned to St. Malachy’s with the goal of re-vitalizing the Parish and ministering to the needs of the neighborhood. A pastoral team concept was initiated, which included not only priests and sisters, but also a group of caring men and women of all faiths.
The parish became home to Encore Community Services, an organization that provides provides seniors living in the area formerly known as “Hell’s Kitchen” with healthy meals, shopping escorts and social events.
Today, it is a vibrant Parish, serving both the acting community and the elderly. The choir is comprised of volunteer singers with various backgrounds and musical experience. You can still attend Mass at 11:00 p.m. after the theaters let out.
Traveling to Saint Malachy, the Actor’s Chapel:
The Church is just off Times Square, in Theater District.
Address: 239 West 49th Street, New York
GPS coordinates: 40° 45′ 41.3064” N, 73° 59′ 8.6892” W
Tel: +1 (212) 489-1340
Click here for the official website of Saint Malachy’s Church in New York City.