Diocesan News

Vatican Nuncio Visits French Catholics in Cobble Hill

Visiting St. Agnes Church in Cobble Hill, French-born Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Vatican nuncio to the U.S., was happy to celebrate Mass for so many young French families. He is seen above with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and St. Agnes parish children. (Photo Antonina Zielinska)

The French Catholic community in Cobble Hill welcomed their compatriot and Vatican nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre Oct. 7 to their Sunday Mass.

“It’s beautiful to see that these people have not forgotten their faith, their tradition,” said Archbishop Christophe Pierre. “They are connected between one another so that we have had a beautiful celebration today.”

The French congregation, including many young children, filled the pews of St. Agnes Church, a worship site of St. Paul-St. Agnes parish. The nuncio praised the community for being witnesses of faith.

Archbishop Pierre said he was happy to see so many young faces in the congregation because it gives the children an opportunity to be educated and raised in faith.

The French community of St. Agnes is shepherded by Father Paul Anel of Heart’s Home. The religious education program was something Father Anel thought of when an influx of French worshippers came seeking solace at St. Agnes after the 2015 terrorism attacks in France. He said the community, though still small, has been steadily increasing in size as word of mouth spreads.

Father Anel said many of the parishioners are people who may have fallen away from the faith or whose faith was not solidified earlier in life, but have found a home in the newly formed community.

The community is much more than fellow worshippers who see each other on Sunday. Many of the children and parents are friends, so there are many play dates, Father Anel said, and many of the adults play golf with each other. Father Anel is a recipient of their openness through many dinner invitations where he can speak frankly with them.

Bishop DiMarzio, who concelebrated Mass at St. Agnes on Oct. 7, gleamed with happiness as he warmly greeted the people after Mass alongside Archbishop Pierre.

“We are so happy they’re here,” he said of the French community. “We are happy that we can accommodate them.”

During his homily, Archbishop Pierre spoke about separating religion from materialism to find Truth.

The message resonated with Alexander Barbier, who has been with the parish for three years. He said he usually procrastinates, but when he heard about the community, he joined them for Mass the very next Sunday. Although, he calls himself a doubting Thomas, he said he feels comfortable at St. Agnes. He is part of the choir and seeks Truth in the presence of the Hidden Lord.