When we think of pilgrimages, we think of holy places like the Vatican, Rome and its many churches, the Holy Land in Israel, the many shrines we can encounter in Mexico, Canada, Ireland, France, and Spain. But, in our own Diocese of Brooklyn, there are also many places where you can go on pilgrimage.
One of the finest examples of this is the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in Downtown Brooklyn.
It was created in 1822 when Peter Turner and other laypersons who were parishioners of the then-Diocese of New York, who were residents of Kings County, Brooklyn, were tired of going into Manhattan to celebrate holy Mass. In the winter, they would even summon the courage to walk on the ice across the river from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Eventually, Turner and other benefactors were able to build the very first church on what was then universally called Long Island.
That first parish, Saint James, is in the midst of celebrating 200 years of existence. Saint James has stood as the Mother Church of all Long Island and the diocese’s cathedral for so many years.
On Sunday, August 14, Bishop Robert J. Brennan, joined in concelebration with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and Bishop John O. Barres of our sister diocese, Rockville Centre, will offer Mass in thanksgiving for 200 years of the Cathedral Basilica in Saint James in Downtown Brooklyn.
People should be encouraged to make every effort to attend this Mass at Saint James Cathedral-Basilica or watch it on television. And if you can’t attend on that date, make that special pilgrimage of faith to the first church on Long Island when you can.
Other locations within the diocese also make for excellent locations for a pilgrimage.
Did you know that Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria is one of the oldest churches in our diocese? So, too, is the parish of Saint Michael’s in Flushing. Both are well worth a trip to visit for holy Mass and prayer.
Saint Sebastian’s in Woodside was originally a movie theater when it was built, which is why this beautiful church slopes down when you walk into it. Our Lady of Snows in Floral Park, Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach, Saint Helen’s in Howard Beach, and St. Mary Magdalene in Springfield Gardens all have been recently renovated and are beautiful churches in the borough of Queens.
Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, and the magnificent church of Saint Andrew Avellino in Flushing on Northern Boulevard are also worth a visit.
In the city of churches, the Borough of Brooklyn boasts some of New York City’s most beautiful. Church after church in the Bay Ridge and Sunset Park sections of Brooklyn are really worth a day trip: Our Lady of the Angels, Saint Anselm’s, Saint Patrick, Saint Michael’s, Saint Agatha, and the beautiful basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, as well as a small, modern parish, Saint Andrew the Apostle.
In Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, the gems that are present are seemingly endless: Immaculate Heart of Mary and Holy Name of Jesus, both in Windsor Terrace, and the magnificent Saint Augustine and Saint Francis Xavier in Park Slope. Going further into Brooklyn, head out to Queen of All Saints, which is based on France’s La Sainte Chappelle and is perhaps the most beautiful church in the diocese.
These are just a few of many places in the diocese where people can visit to search for meaning, purpose, values, or truth — and, of course, prayer and contemplation — while learning more about the history of this great diocese.