Maimonides Helps Brighten Christmas

by Antonina Zielinska

Brooklyn parish leaders join with officials from Maimonides Medical Center, which handed out grants to brighten Christmas at local churches.

Thanks to a collaboration between local Catholics and Maimonides Medical Center, the Celebration of Light has entered its 16th consecutive year of decorating Brooklyn churches at Christmas.

On Nov. 16, Maimonides donated $1,000 each to 28 parishes, including some who are not catholic, to light up their church buildings or Nativity scenes. New to the program this year are St. Agatha, Bay Ridge; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park; and Holy Innocents, Flatbush.

Msgr. David Cassato, who is on the Maimonides board of directors and is pastor of St. Athanasius, Bensonhurst, said the light this program provides illuminates more than just physical buildings.

“With so many issues with the economy, this is a little light in the darkness,” he said.

Father Joseph Tizio, C.S.S.R., pastor of O.L.P.H., said the parish will use the money to light up its Nativity scene on the lawn and if there is money left over, light up the windows.

“This is a great blessing for us because we could not have done it ourselves and it will be a great uplift for the parish,” he said.  “I am deeply grateful.”

Pamela S. Brier, Maimonides president and chief executive officer, said the medical center is concerned with both the physical and spiritual well-being of the community and supports community-based programs that are both religious and secular.

“We started this program as a gesture and out of our regard for the health and well-being of all the people in the various parishes,” she said.

The program began when Brian Long and John DeLosa, of Long and DeLosa Construction Group, LTD., and their wives, Trish and Evelyn, volunteered to build a life-size Nativity at Visitation Monastery, Bay Ridge.

Brian Long said he and his partner continue to help with the initiative as it expands almost every year. His role is now more of a consulting one, working with the parishes if they have problems setting up the lights or decorations. He also continues to set up his Nativity scene at the monastery.

He said he continues because it brings joy to neighborhoods and an emphasis on the religious aspect of the Advent and Christmas season. He said the lights help people see that Catholic Churches are still open and are continuously welcoming all people who would like to enter. He also said the lights give parishioners a sense of pride in their church.