Brooklyn Heights

Assumption Church revives long tradition of Christmas social

December 26, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assumption Parish’s Torno Family table (left to right): Girlie Genabe; Rolly Torno, MD; Ellen Torno; Lutgarda Vasquez, MD; and Social Gala Chair Olivia Rodrigues. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate
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Assumption Roman Catholic Church revived and rebranded its long tradition of the Christmas Gala recently, with parishioners of several generations dancing together well into the night.

Founded in 1842, Assumption Church is known in Brooklyn Heights as a parish that loved to carry over its celebration of Communion to the dining table; the Parish Hall on Cranberry Street has been the scene of many parties over the past 176 years.

As early as 1878, Assumption’s pastor at the time, Fr. William Keegan, established the parish’s Literary Institute, which had the first parochial hall in the diocese with facilities for social functions, including a billiards room, bowling alley and lecture room.

In recent years, Assumption Church’s holiday gala started as a Christmas Market when Monsignor Joseph Funaro was pastor, from 1989 to 2000. After Msgr. Funaro’s transfer, Fr. Michael Carrano, who succeeded him as pastor, initiated the Christmas Gala, which was a cocktail hour with a small silent auction.

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This later expanded to a full-fledged Christmas Gala with a buffet dinner featuring Italian cuisine, music and dancing. The ever-growing silent and mini auctions showcased a variety of high-end as well as moderate items.  

Father James King, who succeeded Fr. Carrano and served as pastor until 2015, stayed true to the centrality of intergenerational celebrations in parish life, and made sure children were invited.

The last Christmas gala, named as such, took place in 2014. As Assumption experienced several transitions of administration, the Christmas Gala was shelved — until this year.

Olivia Rodrigues and Lillian Gallardo have rebranded the Christmas Gala — now called the Christmas Social, much to the delight of parishioners. And they chose a major feast day of the Roman Catholic liturgical year, the Immaculate Conception, Saturday, Dec. 8, to relaunch the event, which included hors d’oeuvres, an abundant Italian buffet, raffles and cash prizes. The evening’s success is a testament to the talented volunteers and sponsors, especially Fr. Joel Warden, CO, administrator of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church.

In fact, the dancing continued for a week, thanks to rehearsals for the parish’s Christmas Pageant, presented on Friday, Dec. 14.


Time Machine Transports Kids to Christmases of the Past

Guess who’s coming to Christmas! The parish youth presented the 2018 Assumption Parish Christmas Pageant wearing T-shirts with this slogan.

This year’s pageant 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, all the way to the birth of Christ.

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

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

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