by Joseph Brostek
A sea of worshippers gathered in St. Andrew Avellino Church, Flushing on Sunday, Nov. 10 in observance of the patron saint’s feast day. Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez concelebrated the 10:30 a.m. Mass with Father Joseph Holcomb, pastor; Msgr. Michael Brennan, parochial vicar, and Father Rodnev Lapommeray, in residence. Deacon Eugene Wohlfarth assisted.
The procession entered to the sound of the glorious hymn “This Day Was Made By the Lord.” Steven Galizia, music director, played the historic Casavant organ accompanied by the adult choir.
Other selections included the hymn, “Great Andrew Avellino,” which was composed in 1943 by the late Charles Harmon, the parish organist and choirmaster for 53 years. The lyrics were by the late Dominican Sister Helen Whelan, then known as Sister Camillus. The hymn can only properly be sung at St. Andrew’s since it is the only parish in the country named in honor of the saint who is also the patron of those suffering from strokes and high blood pressure.
When Bishop Charles McDonnell, the second bishop of Brooklyn, approved the establishment of the parish in 1914, he selected St. Andrew Avellino as patron because many priests in the diocese had suffered heart attacks.
Bishop Sanchez blessed medals of the patron, which were distributed to the entire congregation.
During his homily, the bishop commended the parish for the wonderful way it honored its patron. When he said, “I might have to come back for Easter and Christmas,” the congregation burst into applause. A reception followed in the school cafeteria where attendees had photos taken with Bishop Sanchez.
The parish is celebrating its centennial year until June. The landmark church on Northern Boulevard, which replaced the original 1914 wooden church, was dedicated by Bishop Thomas E. Molloy, Brooklyn’s third bishop, in 1940. It is recognized as an outstanding example of American Art Deco architecture.
Father Holcomb is the sixth pastor of the parish, which includes 3,000 parishioners and an award-winning school that opened in 1925.
Remaining centennial events are:
Sunday, Dec. 15: Christmas Carols and Vespers, tree lighting ceremony on Northern Boulevard;
Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014: Wine tasting reception in the cafeteria;
Saturday, March 1: Brooklyn church visitations and dinner;
Sunday, April 27: “A Taste of Flushing,” local restaurants will present their specialties in the school;
Sunday, May 4: Convocation of Religious from parish followed by Daniel Rodriguez Concert;
Sunday, June 1: Closing Mass and reception with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.