By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Churches Express Joy as Two Beloved Popes Are Canonized as Saints
Celebration Is Especially Meaningful for Parish with Polish Heritage
One could feel the joyful reverence everywhere.
Three Roman Catholic parishes in Bensonhurst and neighboring Borough Park, as well as others around the Diocese of Brooklyn, celebrated the canonizations to sainthood early Sunday morning of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.
Several priests and staff members of the Diocese of Brooklyn were in Rome for the canonization liturgy, including St. Athanasius Church Pastor Monsignor David Cassato, Msgr. John Strynkowski and Fr. Robert Keighron, who spoke from Rome via the Diocesan NET-TV station. Their parishes back home in Brooklyn were also jubilant.
The day of canonization was held in conjunction with Divine Mercy Sunday, which is customarily observed each year on the first Sunday after Easter.
St. Athanasius Church began its devotionals the previous evening, with a 12-Hour Prayer Experience, led by Cluster Director of Youth Ministry Ken Wodzanowski and Craig Tubiolo of the diocese’s NET-TV ministry.
Fr. Ron D’Antonio, a parochial vicar at St. Athanasius, told the Brooklyn Eagle after the 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday, “There are number of people who have come; they had the opportunity to watch the actual canonization. I think the reason why we’re celebrating it anyway is the fact that these two popes have done so much to bring the Church into the 21st Century: Vatican II, and then Pope John Paul bringing the Papacy to the world … I think it’s a good sign that we celebrate that we’re all called to be saints, that saints aren’t just people who lived in the Middle Ages and we remember them. That, by virtue of our baptism, we are all called to be saints and they are role models for us. In this time, they say there’s no reason why we can’t be saints. Their heroic faith in the Lord helped them to come to this point. They are an inspiration to us.”
St. Frances de Chantal Church, on 57th Street just west of 13th Avenue in Borough Park, filled up quickly, in plenty of time for a festive, Polish-language Mass and devotional liturgies filled to beyond standing-room capacity. This largely Polish-speaking congregation spilled out onto 57th Street in front of the church and the statue of Pope John Paul II, whose heritage they share. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn participated in the devotions and the procession to the Basilica of Regina Pacis Church, some eight blocks away. The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre carried a reliquary of the two new saints. Also participating was a Polish uniformed league of voluntary firefighters.
NYPD officers from the 66th Precinct (which encompasses much of Borough Park and some of Midwood and Kensington) started blocking traffic along the route from 57th Street, along 13th Avenue, and 65th Street, a largely Orthodox Jewish community. The officers coordinated smoothly with the MTA, school buses (Sunday is a regular school day in the Orthodox Jewish communities) and residents to minimize disruptions in their own routes.
Bishop DiMarzio’s Sermon
Bishop DiMarzio began his homily by pointing out, “the saints are our intercessors and friends in heaven.”
He pointed out that on Nov. 1, All Saints Day, “Catholics honor all the saints whom we have known personally; those known to us who are family, those known to us who are in heaven, too. As Catholics, we believe in the saints. We don’t believe in them as we believe in God, but we know that they are our friends, our citizen friends who are our intercessors for us before God. We don’t adore those images; we’re not pagans. But we see them, and we are reminded of who they are.”
Bishop DiMarzio then related a highlight of the brief, but poignant, homily Pope Francis preached from the Vatican on Sunday morning.
“He compared these two men and said that they had something in common. ‘They were men of courage.’ And he used a Greek word, parousia, which perhaps is hard to translate.”
Explaining a broader sense of the word, the meaning of which is often a reference to Jesus’ second coming, Bishop DiMarzio reflected the words of Pope Francis.
“And it means more than courage: Men of vision, men who stood up for what they believe,” he said. “Men who truly gave us the example we need to be men of courage.”
Bishop DiMarzio said that John XXIII is remembered as “the universal grandfather. He seemed to be the grandfather of all the world, who embraced everyone – all who are created in the image and likeness of God, no matter who we are. If we believe in Him, then we are His children; and even if we don’t believe, we are his children.”
Bishop DiMarzio continued, “And John Paul II was the servant of the world. He served everyone according to their needs. He brought to the world an understanding of world peace and harmony that the world needed so much. Yes, the contributions of these two great men, who now we know are saints, will live for centuries to come. And we, fortunately, are the witnesses of their lives, and the fruits of their lives. And we now must put this into practice.
“So, I ask again, who is a saint? We strive for sanctity. That was the message of the Second Vatican Council — universal call to holiness, not just for the priests and the religious and the monks and nuns, but for everyone who has been baptized. We are called to be saints. We are called to overcome all the obstacles to our own sanctity.”
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New Saint John Paul II Is Latest in Legacy of Non-Italian Canonized Popes
While one of the two new Papal saints, St. Pope John Paul II, was not Italian, he is not the first to represent a different ethnic heritage. People often forget that the very first Pope was Jewish – St. Peter, a fisherman from the Galilee in Israel (which was occupied by the Roman Empire during the First Century Common Era). The Roman Catholic, Eastern Rite Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches all recognize that Peter received his commissioning directly from the Resurrected Jesus.
Other popes during the first three centuries of Christianity have come from Syria, Greece, North Africa, Portugal and France. Many of the early popes were also canonized as saints. Pope Gregory III (731-741 A.D.) from Syria was the last non-European pope until Francis I’s elevation in 2013. Pope Francis I, like his immediate two predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, is not from Italy, although Pope Francis’ given surname, Bergoglio, and his parents, are of Italian heritage.
Argentina, Pope Francis’ native country, has a large Italian population. Pope Francis, who canonized Popes John XXIII and John Paul II as saints on Sunday, is the first Pope to be from the Southern Hemisphere and the first Jesuit.
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Scholar Posits That the Bible Had Traumatic Origins
Human trauma gave birth to the Bible, suggests eminent religious scholar David Carr.
The Bible’s ability to speak to suffering is a major reason why the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity have retained their relevance for thousands of years, he believes.
During an upcoming Interfaith Scholar-in-Residence Weekend, Professor Carr will offer his fascinating and provocative reinterpretation of the Bible’s origins, the story of how the Jewish people and Christian community had to adapt to survive multiple catastrophes and how their holy scriptures both reflected and reinforced each religion’s resilient nature.
The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and Grace Church present their 18th Annual Interfaith Scholar-in-Residence Weekend. For almost two decades, the synagogue, founded in 1959, and the landmark Episcopal church (founded 112 years earlier, in 1847) have prayed and studied together.
The weekend begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 9, with Shabbat services at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. Dr. Carr’s introductory talk is titled “Why Hebrew Scriptures Survived (and So Many Others Didn’t).”
The Saturday afternoon segment, to be held on May 10, will be a “lunch and learn” hosted by Grace Church. Lunch begins at 1 p.m., followed by the presentation, “Trauma-Tested Stories: Tales of Abraham & Moses.”
The concluding segment will take place as part of an 11 a.m. Morning Prayer on Sunday, May 11, in Grace Church’s newly-restored sanctuary. Dr. Carr will speak from the pulpit on “Christianity’s Foundation Trauma: The Crucified Savior.”
David M. Carr is professor of Old Testament at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and is a leading specialist on how the Bible was formed. Professor Carr’s teaching and research interests include the formation and shape of the Bible, sexuality and gender in the Bible, the intersection of historical, critical and literary approaches to the Bible, and the emergence of Scripture in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Biblical books in which Carr has particular expertise include Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah and the Song of Songs. In addition to his courses at Union, Dr. Carr has also lectured at universities throughout the United States and Germany and he has conducted numerous lectures and workshops for churches, synagogues and other educational groups. He lives in New York.
All three events are free and open to the community. Please RSVP to Grace Church for Saturday Lunch: 718-624-1850 via phone, or [email protected] via email. The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue is at 131 Remsen St. Grace Church Brooklyn Heights is at 254 Hicks St.
Grace Church Parishioner Receives Pace Social Justice Center’s Alumni Award
Longtime Grace Church parishioner Dale Irwin received Pace University’s LGBTQA & Social Justice Center’s esteemed Alumni Award. This award recognizes a Pace alumna who has demonstrated leadership in advocating for the advancement of LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangendered and Allies) rights and commitment to the Pace LGBTQA community. She was presented with the Lavender Award last Friday.
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St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Presents Concert Honoring Motherhood
St. Paul’s Choir and Treble Singers, under the direction of Choirmaster Vince Peterson, present a Garland of Music for the Blessed Mother, St. Mary.
Composers represented at this Mother’s Day concert, to be held on Sunday, May 11, at 4 p.m., include Josquin, Poulenc and Victoria.
Mothers get in for free. Admission for other adults is $20, $5 for children and $30 for families. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is at the corner of Clinton and Carroll streets.