Diocesan News

Bishop DiMarzio Washes Feet of Sexual Abuse Victim at Holy Thursday Mass


By The Tablet Staff

Cathedral Basilica of St. James

Last night, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated Holy Thursday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in Downtown Brooklyn. Father Peter Purpura, Vice Chancellor of the Diocese of Brooklyn concelebrated the Mass. A sign language interpreter translated the Mass for members of the deaf community taking part in Holy Week celebrations. Father Purpura, who is also the rector of the cathedral, explained in an interviewed with Currents News that St. James is the only parish of the diocese that has a sign language interpreter at Mass every Sunday.

The most recognizable moment of the Holy Thursday liturgy is the washing of the feet, the tradition of imitating Jesus washing the feet of the twelve apostles before the Last Supper. This year, Bishop DiMarzio washed the feet of 12 parishioners of the Diocese of Brooklyn, including a father whose young daughter will be baptised at the Easter Vigil, a college student from out the state that has been very active in the parish and will graduate in May, two members of the deaf community and a victim-survivor of clergy sexual abuse, Michael Gilbride.

On this week edition of The Tablet, Gilbride published a column about his experiences as a sexual abuse titled “My Heart Forgives.” Bishop DiMarzio will be celebrating a Mass of Hope and Healing April 30, at 7:00 p.m. at Saint Athanasius Church in Brooklyn, a very special Mass organized by survivors for the victims and for the families and friends of those impacted by sexual abuse.

Holy Child Jesus Parish

More than 700 parishioners filled the pews at the Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, pastor of Holy Child Jesus, was the celebrant. At the beginning of the Mass, the bishop reminded the faithful that Holy Thursday marks the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. He asked them to pray for the many priests and pastors who worked at the parish since its foundation.

Father Christopher Heanue, the parish administrator, was the homilist. He said a recent visit to the Vessel at Hudson Yards made him think about the role of the priest. At the Vessel, he said, there are many staircases and you have to choose the right one to get to the top. In life, Father Heanue added, there many decisions to make and paths to choose, but we are all called ‘to go to the top,’ and try to be saints. The role of the priest, he said, is to help the faithful always walk on the right path to sainthood.

Bishop Cisneros and Deacon Raúl Elías washed the feed of twelve people as the liturgy of the day requires, imitating what Jesus did with His disciples before the Last Supper.

At the end of the Mass, Bishop Cisneros invited the parishioners to the procession with the Blessed Sacrament from the church to a nearby chapel, so they could spend some time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until midnight.

Contributing to this report was Emily Drooby.

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