We delayed our coverage of the rededication of Holy Name of Jesus Church, Park Slope, until this week so that it would not be lost in last week’s attention to the newly dedicated St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral in Prospect Heights.
So, amidst, news about Pope Francis’ historic trip to the Holy Land and the diocesan celebration of World Communications Day, we bring you a look at the “new” Holy Name Church.( See photo slides below and continue reading story underneath.)
The changes at Holy Name are dramatic and magnificent. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio visited on May 18 for the Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar. Also in attendance were Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez and former priests who served at Holy Name.
The centerpiece of the renovations is the 19th-century altar by renown architect James Renwick Jr., who coincidently is buried only a stone’s throw away in Green-Wood Cemetery. Originally designed as a side altar for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, the piece proved to be too big and was relocated to St. Vincent de Paul Church in Williamsburg in 1881. It remained there for more than 100 years until the church was sold about five years ago.
When Father James Cunningham was appointed administrator of Holy Name in 2010, he was barraged with requests to redo the church. Having been liturgically redesigned in the early 1980s, the church never found favor with parishioners and has been a source of controversy ever since.
When Father Cunningham agreed to look into such a project, he was approached by Msgr. John J. Bracken, director of the diocese’s patrimony. “Do I have an altar for you,” said Msgr. Bracken.
Not only did the new parish leader jump at the prospects of the Renwick altar, but he also agreed to use the side altars and baptismal font from St. Vincent de Paul as well.
For the past year, we have chronicled the rebuilding of Holy Name Church in the pages of The Tablet as well as on the air with NET-TV’s daily news program, Currents.
Suffice it to say that the results are breath-taking. Today’s Holy Name is bright, colorful and reverent, with touches of old and new. The shrine areas contain statues of contemporary saints, such as Pope John Paul II and Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope John XXIII is part of the newly created welcoming area, which can double as a kids’ room for liturgy. Because Father Cunningham has a special devotion to Blessed Solanus Casey, O.F.M. Cap., there also is a depiction of him.
The new altar stone that was put into place contains relics of Pope St. Pius X, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Bernadine of Siena, who had a special devotion to the Sacred Heart.
There would not be enough room to credit everyone who worked on this project, but a few were privileged to participate in the Offertory procession. Brian Butler, president of Baker Liturgical Arts, the firm that designed and completed the restoration of Holy Name, offered the bishop the architectural plans. Nick Sisto, chairman of the parish restoration campaign, Maureen Pynn and Patrick Halpin presented the book of donors and the keys to the new church.
Holy Name Church is the cumulative effect of what can happen when a lot of people pitch in to help – from the enthusiastic pastor, to the community that demanded it, to the donors who contributed almost $3 million to pay for it, to the skilled professionals who labored over this project for almost a year.
Holy Name Church is a place that its parishioners are rightly proud of.