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Faith In Brooklyn for December 20: Brooklyn gets in Christmas spirit

December 20, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Time travelers Delilah Leykam, Vida DeLeon, Cate Healey (wearing white lab coat and red hat) and Amanda Pieper shoot for the future but wind up in the past. Eagle photo by Francesca N. Tate
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Time Machine Transports Kids to Christmases of the Past

This year’s pageant organized by the Brooklyn Oratory Parishes, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Boniface, narrated a long journey, much of it through energetic dance, as time travelers set out for the “Future” to see what will come of their Christmas traditions!

Actually, they try to fast-forward themselves into the future — but wind up in the past, going all the way back to the birth of Christ.

Along the way, the time travelers meet a troop of toy soldiers while visiting the Roaring ’20s and encounter cowboys (and cowgirls) in the 1880s.

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

As she has for many years, Heather Leykam directed the Christmas Pageant, with her team of lighting and scene designers, choreographers and musicians.

Thousands of Brooklyn’s Catholics Make Annual Pilgrimage to Honor Our Lady of Guadalupe

Thousands of Mexican-American Catholics in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens celebrated the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Wednesday, Dec. 12,  taking their processions throughout the streets of the two boroughs.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe honors the Virgin Mary’s appearance to an Aztec convert to Catholicism in the early 16th century. Catholics believe that Our Lady of Guadalupe, also called the Virgin of Guadalupe, appeared in December 1531 before a peasant named Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, in a series of visions.

According to legend, Mary told Cuauhtlatoatzin to ask the bishop to build a church on Tepeyac Hill. However, he first had to get permission from the local — and reluctant — bishop. Mary is believed to have interceded with miracles that changed the bishop’s heart to allow Cuauhtlatoatzin to build the church.

St. Juan Diego (1474–1548) became the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas, beatified in 1990 and canonized in 2002. His feast day is Dec. 9, commemorating the date of his first vision. The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on Dec. 12.

Brooklyn has its own celebration as well. The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn, concelebrated a Spanish-language Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, a church building that five years ago underwent a $18.5 million renovation, with support from the bishop and the Mexican Apostolate.

Concelebrating the Mass with DiMarzio were Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros and 20 priests. Cisneros gave the homily.

Following Mass, DiMarzio blessed and lit about 35 torches of the faithful. After that, more than 2,000 participants departed for their pilgrimage to participating parishes throughout Brooklyn and Queens, utilizing five routes — two in Brooklyn and three to Queens.


Author Ruby Namdar Will Discuss His Acclaimed Novel, ‘The Ruined House’

Congregation Mount Sinai welcomes author Ruby Namdar on Wednesday, Jan. 9, for a discussion on his award-winning first novel, “The Ruined House.”

The critically acclaimed book is said to be a work that marks the arrival of an important writer and sets a new standard in Jewish-American literature. The New York Times Book Review hailed “The Ruined House as “a masterpiece of modern religious literature.”

Namdar’s tale of the collision between tradition and contemporary life tells the story of Andrew Cohen, a professor at New York University whose happy, meticulously arranged world begins to mysteriously unravel, disrupted by visions of an ancient religious ritual.

Cohen’s story is occasionally interrupted by a second plot, which is told on pages arranged to resemble the ancient Talmudic style. These faux-Talmudic pages are nearly unprecedented in American literature, and they deepen Andrew’s connection to the past, calling into question everything he believes about his comfortable life.

Through the lens of the privilege and pedantry of New York intellectual life at the start of the 21st century, “The Ruined House” becomes a novel about grappling with the very nature of Jewish-American identity.

Ruby Namdar was born and raised in Jerusalem in a family of Iranian-Jewish heritage. His first book, “Haviv” (2000), won the Israeli Ministry of Culture’s Award for Best First Publication. “The Ruined House” won the 2014 Sapir Prize — Israel’s most important literary award.

Namdar currently lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters. He teaches Jewish literature, focusing on biblical and Talmudic narrative.

The event begins with a 6 p.m. deli supper. The discussion begins at 7 p.m. (Vegetarian option is available on request.) Admission is $25. The RSVP deadline is Mon., Jan. 7, via phone (718-875-9124) or email (, or at the synagogue’s website,


From the Brooklyn Eagle Archives:

Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn Celebrated Its Centennial in 1953

The Brooklyn Eagle of Sunday, Dec. 20, 1953 published a pictorial spread covering the Centennial Celebration of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

“It was a memorable day for Brooklyn Catholics back in 1853, and the relative handful of them rejoiced in the Canonical erection of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“Today, 100 years later and 100-fold stronger, descendants of the earliest Catholics are celebrating again that event. From the 15,000 who comprised the Diocese then, their number has grown to 1,392,000. And they can count by the hundreds their churches and schools, and by the score hospitals, homes and religious training institutions.”

The spread, which included photos of Bishops McDonnell and Molloy and of diocesan pioneers, concluded, “The Diocese has given to the greatest parish of the world 12 bishops, one archbishop [Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Molloy] and two cardinals, and earned position as a great source of strength to the Catholic Church.”

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