BAY RIDGE — At Our Lady of Angels, the parish feast day literally turned into a feast.
Following the 8:30 a.m. Mass, bagels, and coffee were served in the 9/11 memorial courtyard; after the 11:45 a.m. Mass, there were sandwiches; and a 7 p.m. bilingual liturgy was added to the daily schedule with a light reception afterward.
“It’s a day to thank God for this wonderful parish that we belong to,” said Our Lady of Angels, Bay Ridge, pastor Father Kevin Abels.
Father Mark Simmons, who celebrated the midday Mass, reminded parishioners the title of Our Lady of Angels, “refers to Mary’s place of honor with Jesus among the heavenly angels.”
He also explained the title has a special significance for the community of Franciscan Brothers who reside in the parish. In 1207, their founder, St. Francis of Assisi, was praying in a rundown chapel when he “heard” Jesus tell him to “rebuild my church.”
The saint took those words literally and rebuilt the former Benedictine church into a new chapel named Our Lady Queen of Angels. On Aug. 2, 1492, the feast was first celebrated as an official holy day on the church calendar.
After each Mass, a prayer card showing the Blessed Mother being crowned by angels was distributed to each attendee. On the back, was the prayer to Our Lady Queen of Angels that was recited.
Parishioners enjoyed lunch with their priests and appreciated the celebration. Nelson Carabello, the sacristan, said Mass was regularly celebrated on the feast but this is the first time he could remember social gatherings also being part of it.
“This is beautiful,” said Arlene Jablonski, adding that she appreciates Father Abels’ special efforts to bring parishioners together in similar settings. In September, an outdoor Mass and parish picnic is planned.
“It’s good to know this is who we are, all coming together as a family,” Jablonski said, “especially since it’s for the parish and the Blessed Mother.”
More than 200 people showed up for the parish events. Father Arputham Arulsamy (Father Sammy), parochial vicar for Our Lady of Angels, pointed out that it was a good way to “try to bring people outside. We’ve all been stuck inside for too long.”
Our Lady of Angels was established in 1891 by Brooklyn’s first Bishop, John Loughlin. He named Father Martin J. Loftus to be its first pastor.
According to the parish history, it was named to honor Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Niagara, N.Y., where Father Loftus had studied for the priesthood.