My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
On May 1, we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and on May 13, (the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima) we celebrate the Rededication and Consecration of the Altar of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph.
St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Guardian of the Redeemer, gives us an insight on the person and mission of St. Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church. He says of Joseph, simply, “There is a strict parallel between the ‘Annunciation’ in Matthew’s text and the one in Luke’s text. The Divine Messenger introduces Joseph to the mystery of Mary’s motherhood. Joseph, besides being the guardian of the Redeemer, is also the husband of Mary whose place in the history of salvation we recognize as preeminent. The Family of Nazareth is the model for all Christian families in that the real marriage, although it was a virginal one between Joseph and Mary, gives an example to all Christian families of the love and dedication necessary to form a Christian family in today’s world.”
The Church of St. Joseph on Pacific Street was dedicated exactly 100 years ago. It is a large church that is adjacent to the recently completed Barclays Center. Just six years ago, Sunday Liturgy consisted of 30 persons with the Mass celebrated in the rectory. This Easter, there were 1,200 people in attendance, and on an ordinary weekend, there are just over 650 people coming to Mass. It is a diverse community with many new immigrants to America and newcomers to our city. As we can see, St. Joseph’s has once again become a diverse and vibrant community serving the needs of those living in the surrounding area of Prospect Heights.
When I first visited St. Joseph’s 10 years ago, the church was literally coming apart at the seams. Despite its majesty, the building was doomed for failure. We had a choice to make: Either we tear down the church with a cost of approximately $2 million or fix the structure issues of the church to maintain it for the future.
The total cost for the renovation was $18.5 million. The leveraging of the substantial real estate interests of the parish is what enabled this work to move forward. The diocese and the Compostella Fund loaned the parish the money, and it is anticipated that the entire sum will be paid back over 10 years. Truly, this is a parish church that will now be used as our Co-Cathedral for major diocesan events.
The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph seats 1,500 people. Beneath the church is a lower hall that can accommodate 850 persons. We are looking forward to being able to hold future major diocesan events at St. Joseph’s. One of the special features of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph is the introduction of the various Marian patrons of the national ethnic groups represented in Brooklyn and Queens. I have always said, there is always room for Mary in Joseph’s house. The beautiful work of the Evergreen Architectural Arts has truly produced first-quality artwork to adorn this newly renovated structure. One will find the church devotional and comforting in the various Marian images as well as catechetical.
The Church is also high tech. As stewards of the ecology, we were mindful of our carbon footprint. Thus, LED lighting brightens the church, and the heating/air conditioning system is one of the most efficient available. In the very near future, we will be installing solar panels upon the roof of the sacristy. Moreover, there is an entirely new television transmission system in the church, which will allow all events held at St. Joseph’s to be televised by NET-TV, as well as providing a back-up system for their control room in the lower level of the Co-Cathedral.
Lastly, the grand organ was refurbished. With 36 ranks and over 2,000 pipes, this Moller Organ that was restored by the Peragallo Pipe Organ Company is a fitting instrument that will add not only to the daily celebration of the Eucharist but also to our many special liturgical ceremonies performed in this majestic Co-Cathedral.
Our Cathedral-Basilica of St. James is of historic significance and is a beautiful place of worship. It will always have an honored place in our diocese. From the early days, it was our Pro-Cathedral or a church that acted as the Cathedral until one was built. This is because it seats just about 700 people and is not adequate for our major diocesan celebrations. Despite its size, it is of special importance. The floor of its sanctuary has been hallowed by the tens of thousands of our young men who prostrated themselves on the sanctuary floor and were ordained to share in the priesthood of Christ.
The Co-Cathedral is in walking distance of the third largest transportation hub in the city. Soon, surface parking will be available next to St. Joseph’s. In the meantime, there is plenty of street parking and a lot that services the Barclays Center facility on the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Pacific Street just one block away.
Some of you may have seen a video detailing the work at St. Joseph’s presented by Msgr. Kieran Harrington to our priests, which is available for your viewing on the diocesan website. This video gives us a brief tour of the Co-Cathedral and explains some of its special features.
The Rededication and Consecration of the Altar on Tuesday evening, May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, will be televised on NET-TV, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Certainly, the Diocese here in Brooklyn and Queens has put out into the deep in this new venture of refurbishing this beautiful space for major diocesan events. The process has been a long one. However, I believe that we all will be pleased and satisfied with the results.