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Faith In Brooklyn for May 7

May 7, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. Photos courtesy of the New York Landmarks Conservancy
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Sacred Sites Weekend Introduces Public To Brooklyn’s Vast Religious Heritage

Tours Offer Insights on Architecture, History of Brooklyn’s Congregations

A New York tradition continues with the Sacred Sites Open House Weekend later this month, celebrated as part of the 50th anniversary of the city’s Landmarks Law.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s fifth annual Open House Weekend invites Brooklyn’s congregations to open their doors to the community on May 16 and 17. New Yorkers and visitors from around the world can view each sanctuary’s unique history, art and architecture.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Congregations participating in the weekend also showcase the cultural and social service programs they provide to the wider community.  The weekend’s theme will focus on this rare opportunity for New Yorkers and visitors alike to take a glimpse inside many of the city’s religious institutions and view the artistic treasures of many faiths, styles and periods.

“New York’s religious institutions are often the most beautiful buildings in their neighborhoods,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, “but they are often seen only by their members. The Sacred Sites Open House Weekend allows everyone to enjoy the architecture, art and history of these remarkable structures.”

The conservancy’s Sacred Sites program is the only statewide program in the country providing financial and technical assistance for the restoration of culturally significant religious properties. Since 1986, the program has disbursed grants of more than $8.7 million to more than 700 congregations, regardless of denomination.

As of press time for this column, Brooklyn congregations participating in the  Spring 2015 Open House Weekend include:

• Brooklyn Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 110 Schermerhorn St., May 16 (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and May 17 (10-11 a.m. and 12:30-3 p.m.)

• Brown Memorial Baptist Church, 484 Washington Ave., May 16 (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

• St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral, 856 Pacific St., May 16 (12-4 p.m.) and May 17 (1-5 p.m.)

• First Unitarian Congregational Society, 116 Pierrepont St., May 16 (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

• Grace Church, 254 Hicks St., May 17 (12:30 p.m.) — Because of a wedding scheduled on May 16, Grace Church will be participating only on Sunday.

• Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Maronite Cathedral, 113 Remsen St., May 16 (12-4 p.m.) and May 17 (12-4 p.m.)

• St. Agnes Church of the Parish of Saint Paul and Saint Agnes, 433 Sackett St., May 16 (12-4 p.m.) and May 17 (2-6 p.m.).

Two of these congregations — Grace Church and the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph — received the Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honor, the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, on April 30. (See related story, below.)

Readers seeking more information and a complete list of sacred sites participating in the Landmarks Conservancy’s Open House Weekend may visit

Sponsors of Sacred Sites Open House Weekend include Acheson Doyle Partners Architects, AIA New York Historic Buildings Committee, EverGreene Architectural Arts, Faith & Form, and Morgan Stanley.  The event is the conservancy’s part of the NYC Landmarks 50 Alliance.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has led the effort to preserve and protect New York City’s architectural legacy for more than 40 years.  Since its founding, the conservancy has loaned and granted over $40 million, which has leveraged more than $1 billion in 1,550 restoration projects throughout New York, revitalizing communities, providing economic stimulus, and supporting local jobs.  The conservancy has also offered countless hours of pro bono technical advice to building owners, both nonprofit organizations and individuals.  

The conservancy’s work has saved more than 1,000 buildings across the city and state, protecting New York’s distinctive architectural heritage for residents and visitors alike today, and for future generations.  For more information, please visit

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Two Sacred Sites Churches Honored for Extensive Preservation Work

Two historic Brooklyn houses of worship with major architectural transformations were honored on Thursday, April 30, with the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards. The New York Landmarks Conservancy honored the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph and Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights with its version of the Academy Awards for multi-million-dollar capital campaigns and restoration.

The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, built in 1912, serves one of two cathedra sites for ordinations and major liturgies for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. Pope (now emeritus) Benedict elevated St. Joseph’s Church to cathedral status in 2013. The co-cathedral was honored for the restoration of the Spanish Colonial-style exterior and the roof and draining system, as well as, notably, the historic murals and the creation of 20 unique depictions of the Virgin Mary, underwritten by the ethnic apostolates in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Grace Church is an Episcopal parish that was founded in 1847. The church building dates to 1849. The building’s restoration included the installation of a watertight copper roof, new sound system, electrical rewiring and, of course, the crowning glory — the discovery and revelation of an ornately decorated ceiling.

During the presentation ceremony, architectural expert and writer Christopher Gray was honored with the Preservation Leadership Award for his 40-year career of researching and writing about New York City’s buildings. His “Streetscapes” column was a regular New York Times highlight from 1987 to 2014, revealing the hidden mysteries of many familiar buildings.  The author of several books, he has received awards from the American Institute of Architects-New York Chapter, Classical America and the New York Society Library.

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Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn Launches Capital Campaign

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, together with the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, was set to officially announce the launch of Generations of Faith on Sunday, May 3.

Generations of Faith is a comprehensive fundraising initiative to meet the spiritual and material needs of the diocese.

Continuing the unprecedented generosity of the 1996 Alive in Hope campaign, this 2015-2016 effort aims to raise a minimum of $80 million. The campaign will be conducted in the 186 parishes of Brooklyn and Queens, inviting the more than 1.5 million Catholics in the diocese to participate.

Generations of Faith, named after the numerous generations of Catholics raised and living in the many tightknit neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, will focus on three main goals: to strengthen the parishes of Brooklyn and Queens (50 percent), serve and care for senior priests (37.5 percent) and foster the formation of the Catholic faith for future generations (12.5 percent).  

The pilot phase of the campaign, which just concluded, has already succeeded in bringing in $25 million. The goal is to raise the remainder by fall 2016.

“The early success we have experienced in the Generations of Faith pilot parishes is a true sign of our parishioners’ commitment to their communities, their faith and the continued mission of the Church in Brooklyn and Queens,” said the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn. “The pastors of these parishes have my immense admiration and gratitude. Their spirited response and leadership have allowed us to surpass our goals, while setting an incredible example for the remaining parishes.”

Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, vicar for development for the Diocese of Brooklyn, who is spearheading the campaign efforts with the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, said, “We have been blessed with an extraordinary outpouring of love and support from the people of Brooklyn and Queens coming together both in and out of the pews to celebrate and further the work of our Church. The mission of this campaign, in supporting our youth, our priests and our parishes, has elicited such incredible response from our pastors and our lay people.”

Bishop DiMarzio and Msgr. Gigantiello were featured on May 3, on “In the Arena,” the Catholic radio talk show of the diocesan cable network New Evangelization Television (NET TV). Joining them were pastors of parishes that were part of the pilot phase, to talk about the Generations of Faith campaign and its goals.

The Diocese of Brooklyn, the eighth largest diocese in he United States and the only entirely urban diocese in the Nation, serves the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The combined population of the boroughs stands at 4.8 million residents, of which more than 1.5 million identify themselves as Catholics.

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Glenn Mohr Chorale’s ‘Go to Galilee’ Tells the Apostles’ Story of the Resurrection

The Glenn Mohr Chorale’s music ministry continues with its Easter season production of “Go to Galilee.”

The production, named for a commandment from an angel at the empty tomb of Jesus, is based on the early ministry of the Apostles and the early church.

An announcement for this event explains, “After the death of Jesus, the grieving apostles are confused when they are told at the empty tomb, ‘He is not here; Go to Galilee.’ As this Easter production unfolds, we observe the personalities and disagreements between the disciples on how to continue their mission now that their beloved leader is gone. Each apostle must realize they will face danger and, perhaps, their own cross if they accept His call to “go and teach all nations.”

Glenn Mohr Productions is a spiritually motivated group active in the creation of original music and theatrical presentations. Under the direction of its founder, Glenn Mohr, the chorale has steadily enlarged its repertoire to include a number of important works, presenting sacred scripture enhanced by traditional and contemporary music, dance and drama.

This free event is hosted at Saints Simon and Jude Church, 295 Avenue T (between Lake Street and Van Sicklen Street) in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighborhood. “Go to Galilee” begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 17.

For further information, readers may contact the Sts. Simon & Jude Rectory at 718-375-9600, Monday through Friday, from 1 to 4 p.m. 

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World Mission Society Volunteers Work at Cherry Blossom Festival

Christian Hospitality Group Helps During Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Beloved Tradition

As sunrays beamed down on beautiful cherry blossom trees blooming with new life, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was filled with tens of thousands of people there to enjoy the garden’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Expediting the admissions process were the members from the World Mission Society Church of God.

About 100 members from the Church of God served as volunteers at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. They guided people through ticket lines, handing out pamphlets and answering any questions about the event. The volunteers played a critical role in making sure the guests had a positive and comfortable experience as they entered the gardens.

“It’s always good when people are here greeting people and giving them information,” said Zach Gold, a member of the admissions department at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “It’s really important to make sure that the line operates smoothly. Without them [Church of God volunteers], it’s just me and three of my co-workers.”

Gold was at the main entrance to the event — just one of four entrances to the festival at which Church of God members were stationed. As expected, 40,000 people were admitted to the Cherry Blossom Festival.

“This is a really huge event and so many people are out here,” said Tina Renick, a Church of God member. “We wanted to volunteer because we have done a lot of community service and volunteer events in New Jersey, but this is one of the first events we were able to do in Brooklyn, specifically, and be more a part of the New York City community.”

“We are all about helping people,” said Kamil Dobrowolski, another Church of God member. “We feel good that we can consider others’ feelings, comfort and joy. Ultimately, we want to glorify God through this event.”

The World Mission Society Church of God is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that resolves to spread the love of God the Father and God the Mother through various volunteer activities. It has been recognized as one of the fastest growing faiths in the world; in only five decades, it has been established in approximately 2,200 regions in more than 175 different countries. The Church of God has received numerous recognitions throughout the world for its contribution to the welfare of society, including the Presidential Award for Community Service and a special commendation from the United Nations for its disaster relief.


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