By Daniel Esparza
LONG ISLAND CITY — One parish, three languages and 150 years of history. That’s the story of St. Patrick’s Church, Long Island City, which on Oct. 6 celebrated its 150th anniversary with a Mass in English, Spanish and Tagalog, reflecting its diverse base.
Father Robert M. Powers, the pastor, was the main celebrant. He was joined by a number of concelebrants, including Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, the current pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg and vicar of development for the Diocese of Brooklyn. The Gospel was read in Spanish and in English by Deacon Carlos Trochez. Father Charles F. Gilley, who is in residence in the parish, and Father Peter Nguyen, pastor of the neighboring Our Lady of Carmel Parish in Astoria, were also among the concelebrants.
Msgr. Gigantiello preached the homily, recalling his days growing up as a member of St. Patrick’s Parish. “My priestly vocation was born in this parish, in this community,” Msgr. Gigantiello said.
“I wanted to sing in the choir, and after a couple of attempts, the director suggested that maybe I would have more talent to serve on the altar than to sing,” he said to everyone’s laughter. “But, seriously, vocations can come out of a musical ministry. Everything can be an occasion to grow faith in the community,” he said.
Referring to the readings of the day and in particular to the Gospel, Msgr. Gigantiello emphasized the importance of the parish community as one of the pillars of spiritual life. “God lives in the priests who faithfully attend to his ministry and his flock; in the lay ministers who are dedicated to their parish and its services; in the community that meets in the parish week after week, day after day, united in prayer,” Msgr. Gigantiello said.
St. Patrick’s has been a diverse parish and place that has welcomed immigrants since its founding in 1859. At first, the Irish came to St. Patrick’s and then later Italians. Over the last 40 years, many Hispanic Catholics — mainly from Mexico and Ecuador — have found a spiritual home in the parish.
Nowadays, a growing Filipino population runs the music apostolate at St. Patrick’s. Father Powers said with a recent construction boom of residential buildings around the parish, many are moving to Long Island City from other parts of the United States and have found their place at St. Patrick’s.
After the anniversary Mass, the parish community got together for a gala luncheon at Riccardo’s By The Bridge in nearby Astoria. At the luncheon, gathered around the tables were the faithful who all shared a special place in their hearts for the parish, including the family that owns the restaurant. They have been parishioners at St. Patrick’s for four generations.
Esparza is editor of the English edition of Aleteia.