Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for June 9

June 9, 2014 By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assumption Church Bids Poignant Farewell to a Beloved Pastor. Photo from Assumption Church

Assumption Church Bids Poignant Farewell to a Beloved Pastor

Fr. King Will Next Help Those Who Discern Priestly Vocation

A gifted pastor is present for his congregation through joyous and dark times alike. He or she nurtures each parishioner and encourages all to be leaders in their church. And sometimes, because of his very calling, he is reassigned to a new ministry.

Rev. James King and Assumption Roman Catholic Church, where he has served as pastor since 2009, now have to bid Godspeed to each other. Last Sunday, Assumption parish, which has grown as a family over the past five years, honored Fr. King as its “Person of the Year.”

Starting next month, Fr. King will serve as both spiritual director of the Douglaston Seminary of the Immaculate Conception and director of the House of Discernment.

“The director of the House Discernment will meet with candidates [men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood] and will monitor their progress and spiritual growth,” according to an article in last week’s edition of The Tablet diocesan newspaper. If, after this program of discernment, the men sense a definite call to the priesthood, they will enter the seminary.

However, before he leaves Assumption Church at the end of this month, Fr. King will have given his parishioners a legacy of deep spiritual bonding with one another. And they have given him that love in turn.

During the 10 a.m. Mass on June 1, Fr. King focused his homily on the highlights and joys of his ministry at Assumption Church. He noted also that June 1 marked the 23rd anniversary of his own ordination to the priesthood, here in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn at St. James Cathedral-Basilica. After Communion, the children of the parish sang a Prayer of Blessing – “With You We Stand,” by Assumption’s organist, Scott Battaglia. Fr. King uses this prayer as part of his blessing for parishioners who are moving from the parish. The children also sang “Open My Eyes, Lord.”

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Parishioners also underwrote the entire reception in Fr. King’s honor, from the flowers in church to the cake, mimosa bar and brunch caterer. Mariannette Productions, a collaboration of Mary Weisenreider and Annette Anglisano, presented the annual slide show of parishioners that is traditionally shown on Pentecost each year. As Pentecost fell on June 8, this year’s slide show was moved a week earlier so it could be part of Fr. King’s farewell.

Several parishioners have expressed to the Brooklyn Eagle the many ways in which Fr. King has enriched parish life.

Longtime parishioner Tom Amon wrote in the Sunday bulletin, “… I have been a parishioner at Assumption for nearly 40 years. We have been blessed with wonderful parish priests. Although his tenure was much too short, Father King stands out in so many ways. His quiet, steady leadership touched many of us deeply. He is a very holy man and many parishioners have commented to me that his spirituality touched them personally. It is the essence of a ‘parish priest’ that he has this connection to his parishioners. Father King had this connection and I personally witnessed this on many occasions. His remembrance of the death of Ethel Little was particularly poignant for those of us who knew and loved Ethel. There are many more examples of his caring nature ….”

Likewise, Patricia Bruce wrote, “Father King did so much for us in such a short time. He brought us together as a true faith community. We felt a sense of belonging as a family. He reached out to us, not only in a pastoral, but in a human way as well. He shared our good times and bad — on a personal as well as a congregational level. At all our functions, you always sensed the joy he felt.”

Jean and Michael Hughes wrote, “There will be a big void in our Assumption Church and community when our much-loved and respected Father Jim is gone. As a Catholic woman living on the Heights for 50 years, my husband and I find ourselves closer to God than ever before. This is because Father James King has a very special gift for a priest. You feel good and honored to come to church and pray with your fellow parishioners at Assumption. Mass at our church is an inviting, warm, spiritual happening. Father King is able to bring out the best in people. Look around our church at Mass, or the many other events at Assumption … the people are smiling and happy to be there. Father Jim may leave, but he will always be in our hearts and minds.”

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East Brooklyn Congregation’s Leaders March to Improve Neighborhood Parks

The Reverend Claudio Holzer, pastor of Saint Joseph Patron Roman Catholic Church, led about 250 parishioners and East Brooklyn Congregations leaders on a procession from Saint Joseph’s to Green Central Knoll Park on June 1. At the park, leaders met with First Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey and City Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

For the past two years, EBC leaders have been working to improve the maintenance at Green Central Knoll Park and six other neighborhood parks in Bushwick. Leaders have pushed the Parks Department to fix drinking fountains, repaint benches and regularly cut the grass on the baseball diamond at Green Central Knoll. Now, they are also fighting for capital improvements, which include a new comfort station, a synthetic turf field and recreation lighting.

During the procession, Jesus Navarette, a Saint Joseph’s parishioner and EBC leader, asked Councilmember Reynoso to commit funding for a new comfort station at the park. Reynoso committed to securing funding for the park and said that Green Central Knoll was his first priority when it came to parks in his district.

Navarette then told the audience, “Let’s thank Councilmember Reynoso for his commitment and continue working until these projects are a reality.”

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Milestone in Faith

Our Lady of Refuge Church Marks 80 Years in Midwood

Eighty years ago, on June 16, 1934, the first Mass in Our Lady of Refuge Church’s brand-new sanctuary was celebrated. A Monsignor Connelly, who served as pastor there for 35 years, is credited “with determined vision and perseverance, perseverance that raised the funds for the completion of the stately, Gothic-style church made of granite at the corner of Ocean and Foster avenues,” according to an online parish history.

Ground had been broken in 1933 and the construction was finished the following year at a cost of $400,000. By that time, the congregants’ generosity left the parish free of any debt. Our Lady of Refuge parish thus became one of very few in the United States to achieve such a goal upon the completion of a new church and rectory. The Most Reverend Thomas E. Molloy, STD, bishop of Brooklyn at the time, presided at the dedication ceremony for the 1,000-seat sanctuary on June 17, 1934, the day after the first Mass there took place.

By the way, parish records showed that Msgr. Connelly was honored for his work with Our Lady of Refuge. Pope Pius XI entitled Msgr. Connelly as Very Reverend Monsignor in 1929. Nine years later, in 1938, the Pope granted Connelly a second designation, a domestic prelate of Right Reverend Monsignor.


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St. Ann’s Church Hosts Public Forum on Housing Affordability and Initiatives

Brooklyn’s special character, cultural vibrancy and quality of life have attracted global attention. With it has come dramatic and rapid change. Residents are seeing their neighborhoods change so quickly that they hardly recognize their surroundings, often cannot benefit from improvements and feel shut out, or alienated, on their own turf. A public forum will take place later this month to explore what the new mayoral administration means for residents and real estate developments — whose goals often conflict.

Titled “Brooklyn Housing Matters: Tackling Affordability,” this community forum will be held on Tuesday, June 24, at 7 pm. WNYC – New York Public Radio Urban Policy reporter Cindy Rodriguez will moderate the event, which will feature panelists Councilmember Stephen Levin; Caitlyn Brazill, vice president of strategic partnerships of CAMBA, a Brooklyn multiservice nonprofit; and Aaron Koffman, director of affordable housing of the Hudson Companies, a developer of new housing for all market segments in the metropolitan area. A presentation of The Forum @ St. Ann’s, the event will be held at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Montague and Clinton streets, in Brooklyn Heights.

Some of the issues to be tackled: the definition of “affordability” – Who is it for?; the housing needs and prospects of those who are evicted, foreclosed, displaced, unemployed, elderly, or disabled; how to honor the character of neighborhoods marked for development; and how to retain community cohesion while gentrification significantly alters the traditional resident profile.

The event is part of a series by The Forum @ St. Ann’s, which seeks to engage the community in conversation about the arts, ideas and civic life.

“Housing matters are on the minds of all Brooklyn residents. We are pleased to explore this urgent topic with guests who are asking the hard questions about the future of our beloved borough,” said the Rev. John E. Denaro, rector of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church.

The parish’s current exhibit, “Raising the Dead,” has its own connection to the housing issue. The exhibit (running through July 6) includes sculptures by Sandra Osip and paintings by Douglas James. Osip’s arresting works of derelict, graffiti-tagged houses in Detroit are directly related to Brooklyn’s own housing history, which underscores the issues to be discussed at “Brooklyn Housing Matters: Tackling Affordability.”


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