A new plaque for Father McGoldrick

Queens Library ceremony honors Flushing priest who made history

Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott joined Flushing leaders to unveil a new plaque honoring the Rev. Edward McGoldrick on Tuesday and rededicate the library that bears his name.

As Walcott pointed out, only four Queens Library locations are named after individuals. “Of the four, one did not really have any type of acknowledgement inside the library ... That library is here, at McGoldrick,” he said. “And that’s what we’re going to be taking care of today.”

An Irish immigrant and priest, McGoldrick advocated for the opening of the Broadway-Flushing Library, which started operating in 1930 — the year he died — and was renamed in his honor in 1933. The priest was also on the Queens Library’s Board of Trustees from 1921 until his death.

Queens Historical Society Trustee Joseph Brostek pointed out how while there is a plaque at the library, it has “no explanation of Father McGoldrick” and who he was.

“Almost two years ago, I started my campaign to have him properly recognized,” said Brostek, who is the parish historian of St. Andrew Avellino Church in Flushing, which McGoldrick founded. “I contacted library officials and President Walcott, who fully agreed with the proposal.” He explained that he worked with the library system president’s staff to develop the language that ultimately would be used on the plaque.

As Brostek told the audience, the legacy of McGoldrick — who preached in Brooklyn and Queens — goes well beyond libraries.

“One day his boss, a bishop, said, ‘Edward, I have a very important job for you. The people in upper Flushing’ — now this area used to be called upper Flushing — ‘they go to church on Sunday, and the closest church is St. Michael’s in Downtown Flushing,’” the QHS trustee said.

Back then, he explained, there were few transportation options. And walking to St. Michael’s was a very long walk, especially when it was raining or snowing.

“The bishop said, ‘Edward, I’d like you to build a church where the people live,’” Brostek said.

McGoldrick followed through, establishing St. Andrew Avellino’s in 1914. Originally, it was a small wooden building; the church today is a larger one constructed in 1941, according to Brostek. He opened the church academy in 1925.

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), a representative for Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Community Board 7 District Manager Marilyn McAndrews and The Rev. Joseph Holcomb, pastor of the church that McGoldrick founded, all took part in the ceremony.

Children from the St. Andrew Avellino school chorus academy sang at the event.

Afterward, Brostek elaborated on the need for a plaque honoring McGoldrick to the Chronicle.

“I knew it was time to start my quest when I first saw the plaque in the lobby of the library. It said ‘McGoldrick Branch.’ It listed Abraham Beame as mayor and Donald Manes as borough president,” he said in an email. “There was also information about the architects and people involved in the construction but there was no explanation of who McGoldrick was.”