Diocesan News

St. Finbar’s Chapel ‘Returned to Its Former Glory’ by the Parishioners Themselves 

“Imparting God’s blessings is always a joy for bishops and priests,” Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Octavio Cisneros said prior to reconsecrating the altar at the Holy Family Chapel at St. Finbar Church on Sept. 17. (Photo: Paula Katinas)

BATH BEACH — At St. Finbar Church, they’re old hands at taking matters into their own hands.

Thirty years ago, parishioners took it upon themselves to renovate the church — doing all of the painting, repairing, and retouching without hiring a contractor.

So earlier this year, when Father Jose Henriquez, the pastor, said he wanted to restore the chapel in the church’s former convent, the parishioners once again made it happen — this time by raising thousands of dollars to pay for the renovation and then doing much of the work themselves. 

“Everybody pitched in to help,” Father Henriquez said.

The result of their efforts was unveiled Sunday, Sept. 17, as Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Octavio Cisneros reconsecrated the chapel — now called Holy Family Chapel.

It is a perpetual adoration chapel, meaning that the Blessed Sacrament will always be present. “The presence of the Lord in the Eucharist will be a source of grace for all in the parish,” Bishop Cisneros said. 

As parishioner Lazaro Bulux stood inside the chapel awaiting the reconsecration, he could hardly contain his joy. “I’m very excited, so happy. This is a big blessing for our community. We have been waiting for this place for a long time and now we have it,” he said.

The beautifully restored chapel stands in sharp contrast to its former condition when it was used largely as storage space for old clothes and nonperishable food after the nuns who had been residing in the convent moved out. Unused for many years, it fell into disrepair, Father Henriquez said.

“The chapel will now be returned to its former glory and will afford the groups and ministries of our parish the opportunity and space to gather in prayer,” Father Henriquez added.

The chapel reconsecration was part of the parish’s celebration of the feast day of its patron saint. St. Finbar (550-623) served as the bishop of the city of Cork in Ireland. 

St. Finbar Church was established by the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1880 at a time when Bath Beach was populated by a large number of Irish immigrants. The current church building opened in 1912.

When Bath Beach became predominantly Italian American in the mid-20th century, many found a home at St. Finbar. In recent years, the congregation has included large numbers of immigrants from Guatemala.

Father Henriquez noted that St. Finbar died on Sept. 25, 623 — 1,400 years ago. The parish will celebrate him for a year, he said.

Calling the chapel “a remarkable expression of faith,” Bishop Cisneros said he admired the support parishioners give St. Finbar Church. 

Once you know this is your church and you own it, the parishioners will sacrifice to make it what is meant to be — the house of God,” he said.