Monsignor Arcese Triangle

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Monsignor Leopold Arcese (1887-1970) was pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, and an active member of the Ozone Park community for over 35 years. Arcese was born on June 24, 1887 in Arpino, Italy and moved with his family to New York in 1894. Arcese was educated in the United States and ordained as a priest in 1911.

Arcese first served as a pastor at St. Lucy’s parish in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn before becoming pastor of the Nativity parish on December 8, 1931. Entering the parish at the time of the Great Depression, Arcese immediately began efforts to assist the Ozone Park community. Arcese and his fellow priests would conduct a semi-annual canvass of the neighborhood to improve their connection with the community and find people in need of assistance.

To better help the residents of Ozone Park, in 1943, Arcese started Ferrinni Welfare League, a service agency whose goal was to assist the youth of the neighborhood in attending college and leading better lives. In 1949, the Monsignor also asked the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate to serve as social workers for the church. In 1952, under Arcese’s directorship, the Nativity parish opened a youth center on 101st Avenue. Arcese also served as the Chaplain for the Sanitation Department’s Holy Name Society for Queens and Brooklyn.

As an advisor to Bishop Bryan McEntegart of the Brooklyn Diocese, Arcese supervised the construction of school buildings in Queens and Brooklyn, and of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, dedicated on October 26, 1941, along with a rectory adjacent to the structure. In 1966 Arcese retired from this position due to a Diocese of Brooklyn regulation requiring priests to step down at age 75.

Arcese was made a Monsignor when he was invested as a Domestic Prelate of the Holy Father on September 29, 1938, becoming the last of four members of his immediate family to be given the title Monsignor. Monsignor Vincent J. Arcese was the founder of the St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Forestburg, New York, located in upstate Sullivan County; Monsignor Alfonso Arcese was the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at Hicks and Summit Streets in Brooklyn. Monsignor Gaetano Arcese served in the Holy Rosary Church on East 119th Street in Manhattan. In addition, the Arcese family included Mary Arcese who was a Daughter of the Sacred Heart in Grottaferrata, Italy. For four brothers to all hold the title of Monsignor is without precedent in the United States.

Monsignor Arcese Triangle, located at the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard, 103rd Avenue, and 91st Street, is part of the Greenstreets program, a joint project of Parks and the Department of Transportation begun in 1986 and revived in 1994. Its goal is to convert paved street properties, such as triangles and malls, into green spaces. Today, the park adds greenery to this stretch of Rockaway Boulevard and honors a man who gave much to this community.

Wednesday, Oct 31, 2001

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