Watch This Space: The Lady Chapel | Part 2

Mar 11, 2021

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, it is only fitting that we talk about the history of the Lady Chapel and how it ended up here on Park Avenue. Many of the contents of the Chapel come from Inisfada, the St. Ignatius Retreat Center in Manhasset, Long Island. Inisfada means Long Island in Gaelic. This 300-acre, 87-room estate was the summer residence of Nicholas Frederic and Genevieve Garvan Brady. It was designed by Philadelphia architect John Windram and built from 1916-20. Mr. Brady was an Episcopalian convert to Catholicism. The Brady’s were great philanthropists and notable donors to Roman Catholic and Jesuit causes.

The couple bequeathed Inisfada to the Society of Jesus in 1937. It was used as a Jesuit seminary until 1963, when it was converted to a Jesuit Retreat Center. The Jesuits closed Inisfada and Mount Manresa Retreat House on Staten Island on June 1, 2013, after determining that maintaining these two structures was financially impossible. Inisfada was razed in December 2013.

There is another connection to Nicholas and Genevieve Brady and to the Parish. They are the founders of the St. Ignatius Day Nursery (now Preschool). In 1915, they built the five-story, Gothic revival building on East 84th Street to accommodate the expanding Day Nursery. The Nursery began in 1910 to provide childcare to working women and home to the Sisters of Bon Secour, the Sisters of Charity, and the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.

In the summer of 2013, St. Ignatius Loyola received and installed a hand-carved walnut Gothic reredos (which is an altarpiece), a crucifix, and thirteen pews. This restoration project was not a minor one and we are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Nick Valenti who very generously underwrote this renovation project in gratitude of their children and grandchildren. Other objects from Inisfada went to the Parish House, the Grammar School, and Preschool and are on display.