Diocesan News

Queen of All Saints – A Century of Welcoming the Faithful of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill (with slideshow)

by Marie Elena Giossi

outside_brosnan_perry_rodriguez
Fathers Thomas Brosnan, Michael Perry and Juan Rodriguez, admire the exterior of Queen of All Saints Church, Fort Greene, as they process into Mass for the 100th anniversary of the church’s dedication.

The sonorous sounds of bells greeted clergy, parishioners and guests as they arrived to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the dedication of Queen of All Saints Church in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Adult members of the parish’s Resounding Joy Hand Bell Choir performed as ushers and parish youngsters, like Vivian Kun and Jordan Riley, offered Mass programs and warm smiles to all who entered.

Nearly 700 families comprise this growing community of long-time residents as well as neighborhood newcomers, especially young adults and families from all ethnic backgrounds.

A welcoming spirit is what brings them all to Queen of All Saints. That has kept this parish strong for 100 years, and flourishing as it looks toward the future.

Joining the parish community on this special occasion was Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who was the main celebrant of the 10:30 a.m. anniversary Mass.

Special concelebrants included Father Joseph Ceriello, pastor; Fathers Anthony Rucando and Casper Furnari, former pastors; Father Michael Perry, former parochial vicar; Fathers Thomas Brosnan and Rodnev Lapommeray, who served their diaconate years at the parish; Father Alonzo Cox, who was raised in the parish; and Father Juan Rodriguez, local dean.

“Today, we come to celebrate the birth of this temple, this temple dedicated to God,” Bishop DiMarzio announced in his homily. He called Queen of All Saints Church “a beautiful place, an extraordinary place.”

Gothic Gem

Modeled after the medieval Gothic style of Sainte Chapelle in Paris, Queen of All Saints is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the diocese.

Created from carved white stone, the church has a soaring steeple, towering interior columns and over two dozen life-sized statues. Lining the walls are 14 stained-glass windows, each containing at least 22,820 pieces of glass, depicting 260 Old and New Testament subjects.

To this day, the church has maintained its bronze light fixtures; original pews, constructed of French oak, and four-manual Wirsching organ.

In honor of the anniversary year, the parish cleaned the tapestries adorning the sanctuary, refinished the metalwork in the vestibule and cleaned the church. Two days before the anniversary Mass, the interior doors leading into the church were updated with glass panels, made possible by former parishioner Beatrice R. Mannering.

Mannering memorialized the doors in honor of her parents, whose names are etched onto the glass.

While the bishop acknowledged that having a beautiful building can enhance prayer, he reminded the congregation that the church isn’t found in stone and glass, but in the faithful who worship there.

“These buildings would not be here unless people believed, unless people sacrificed,” he said, “so that a beautiful place could be built.”

For Queen of All Saints Church, the history of how it was built, the bishop explained, “is actually very complicated.”

In 1878, the first bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop John Loughlin purchased the site where Queen of All Saints stands with the intention of building a cathedral church for the newly established Brooklyn Diocese. Instead, the small Chapel of St. John was erected to serve local Catholics of Irish, English, Italian and German descent.

In 1909, Auxiliary Bishop George Mundelein was appointed to the chapel. He instituted the parish school, staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and began the process of building Queen of All Saints Church. The cornerstone was laid in 1911 and the church was solemnly dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 1913.

Everyday Saints

While the official history has been recorded for church a, nd diocesan archives, the bishop said it is the unwritten stories and everyday saints who have shaped this church over the last 100 years.

One of those saints is Catherine Brown, 83, who recently retired after 17 years as parish secretary. Her service was recognized at Mass with flowers and a standing ovation.

“This parish is my life and my joy. What more can I say,” shared Brown, a third-generation parishioner.

Following Mass, she was surrounded by well-wishers, including Father Rucando, who called upon the spry redhead to volunteer under his pastorate.

“I asked her for a few hours, Catherine us gave her heart,” he said.

Brown was accompanied at Mass by her successor Genevieve Thiam, a young woman who hopes to serve the parish as long as her predecessor.

Thiam represents the wave of younger people who have moved into the parish over the last three to four years.

“To be in a place experiencing resurgence and growth, it’s a great thing,” said Father Ceriello. “It’s very hopeful when you see all of these young adults and families. It truly is an opportunity for evangelization and to keep them in the life of the church.”

Keeping them is Father Ceriello’s responsibility. As for getting them there, well, he relies on the Holy Spirit for help.

Guided by the Spirit – and Google

Colleen Spilka found the parish through Google Maps four years ago and never looked back. She has since helped to start a successful young adult group, which offers Bible study, faith sharing and First Friday Holy Hours. Between 15 and 25 young adults attend each gathering.

“Living in the world we live in,” Spilka said, “there isn’t a lot of open conversation about faith and our relationship with Christ. But most of us want that to be part of our everyday life.

“What I love about Queen of All Saints is the sense that it is a faith community,” she added. “There’s a joy here, a sense of belonging to each other and God.”

parishioners follow the Mass in their programs.
parishioners follow the Mass in their programs.
Also took time to honor former parish secretary Catherine Brown, and her successor Genevieve Thiam.
Also took time to honor former parish secretary Catherine Brown, and her successor Genevieve Thiam.

 

Father Ceriello and Father Rodnev Lapommeray enjoy refreshments after Mass with the parish’s new and growing young adult group, started, in part, by Colleen Spilka, fourth from left.
Father Ceriello and Father Rodnev Lapommeray enjoy refreshments after Mass with the parish’s new and growing young adult group, started, in part, by Colleen Spilka, fourth from left.
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One thought on “Queen of All Saints – A Century of Welcoming the Faithful of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill (with slideshow)

  1. Thank you for this superlative documentary about a building, and its organ that inspired me to be where I am today – 74 years later! In addition, Ms. Brown’s mother used to be our babysitter in Brooklyn days gone by.