Interfaith clergy leaders gather at service for peace, reconciliation

Patron Saint, Brooklyn Host Parish Have Solid History of Helping African-Americans

September 10, 2014 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bishop DiMarzio and interfaith community leaders join in chorus of “We Shall Overcome.” Second from left: Jashaan Brown, who read a prayer on behalf of all the African American youth. Photo Credits: Marie Elena Giossi/The Tablet.
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Brooklynites are responding with prayer and compassion to the recent events involving the deaths of black males in police custody.

Last Saturday, Sept. 6, the parish of St. Martin de Porres celebrated an Interfaith Service for Peace and Reconciliation at St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Leading this initiative was Monsignor Paul Jervis, who wanted to bring the Holy Father’s message for peace to our local communities in the wake of the recent tragic events in Staten Island and Ferguson, Missouri.

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Joining Father Jervis were Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn; Retired Bishop Guy Sansaricq of Brooklyn; Rev. Frank Black, pastor at St. Laurence Church; Rev. James Massa, Vicar for Evangelization for the Diocese of Brooklyn; Father Emmett Nolan, C.M., pastor of St. John the Baptist; and Pastor Kevin B. Jones of the Peterson Temple Church of God in Christ and member of the Brooklyn Clergy/NYPD Task Force. Pastor Jones, who also works for the SOS Program (Save Our Streets) as a Clergy Liaison, served as the keynote speaker.

“It is time for you and I to make a difference,” said Pastor Jones to the attendees of all faiths and races, who listened and held hands during his passionate delivery.

Bishop DiMarzio said the service was meant to improve race relations within the community. “We talked today about racism, how can we eliminate that from our society and from ourselves,” he said.

The service took place during the Feast of Saint Peter Claver, the patron of the church, who dedicated his life to work in defending the rights of the African people and sought for the abolition of the slave trade. Founded in 1922, St. Peter Claver Church was the first African American Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Brooklyn.  Monsignor Bernard Quinn, a champion of racial equality, founded the church at a time when discrimination against Africans was ubiquitous in America.

St. Martin de Porres parish is the fruit of a bonding collaborative ministry of three nearby Bedford-Stuyvesant churches. The mission statement posted on their website reads, “We the newly formed Roman Catholic Parish of St. Martin de Porres, formed from the tri-church unity of Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Victory, and St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Churches are led by the Spirit and committed to becoming one in Humility, Faith and Love.”

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