Diocesan News

Bishop Brennan Celebrates Easter Sunday Mass at Cathedral Basilica of St. James

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Across Brooklyn and Queens, after a united Lenten preparation through the diocesan pilgrimage, Catholics came together to celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, March 31. 

At the Cathedral Basilica of St. James pews were filled to attend what Bishop Robert Brennan, the Mass’s celebrant, called “the pinnacle of our faith and of our hope.”

“Today is the day of a lot of joy. We recognize that there are a lot of things that bring us down, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings hope and joy to everything else because he has conquered everything — even sin and death,” Bishop Brennan said. 

The Easter Sunday Mass brought the faithful to hear the joyful message of Christ’s resurrection. For Althea Fordegobe, the Mass has been a celebration she has been looking forward to — she attends the Cathedral Basilica of St. James three times a week, and “always enjoys” hearing the bishop’s guidance given during the Easter homily.

“He always says something good, and we can follow him,” Fordegobe said. “Easter is great, we just have to keep up coming to church, because the crowd we had today, we usually do not have. But it was so great to see so many people today.”

During his homily, Bishop Brennan expressed the joy of the resurrection but maintained a serious message as he discussed the “harrowing of hell,” when Jesus went to rescue the souls of the righteous. 

He utilized the imagery of Jesus pulling Adam to heaven, and the simultaneous effort by a demon pulling at his feet to keep him down. Often, the bishop said, as God pulls the faithful up, “we can feel the tug of the demons pulling us down. Keeping us down.”

Parishioner Victoria Amor said, “I think it’s a very beautiful and inspiring message for all of us, because every time we turn on the TV or even hear the news, it’s all about sadness, dying. … I think the bishop’s message reminds us that we have to summon courage regarding what is going on. We have to advocate. I am an advocate for peace.”  

Amor sees Easter as a chance to give thanks for Jesus’ sacrifices, and coming to her parish on the holiday is like “coming to a family home.”

The bishop also referenced in his homily how this is the “year of Eucharistic revival,” both within the diocese and across the broader Catholic Church in the U.S. The Diocesan Eucharistic Revival is in less than three weeks, on April 20 at Louis Armstrong Stadium, and the National Eucharistic Congress will be held from July 17 through July 21 in Indianapolis.

In an Easter Sunday tradition, parishioners renewed their baptismal promise, as Bishop Brennan processed through the church, blessing people with holy water.

“It was nice to see everyone showing up for Easter,” said Zachariah Thompson, a parishioner at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James. He attends the church with his family. “Easter means a lot to me. This is the day that Jesus rises up from the dead, and I think it’s amazing how we get to celebrate this day,” Thompson said.

To create a welcoming service for all, the Cathedral Basilica of St. James reserves rows in the front of the church for their deaf community, and certified American Sign Language interpreter Kathleen Taylor translated the Mass for the attendees.

The Easter celebrations come after the Diocesan Lenten Pilgrimage brought the Eucharist across Brooklyn and Queens. The pilgrimage prepared Bishop Brennan for Easter after he visited 32 of the 40 station churches.

“It brings us now to the joy of Easter, having walked this journey with Jesus. We’re very conscious of his presence in our life,” he said.