Faith In Brooklyn for July 24

Diocese of Brooklyn Sends New Prayer Technology  With World Youth Day Delegates

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has sent nearly 300 youngsters to Rio de Janeiro with Prayer Coins. Their pilgrimage is in conjunction with World Youth Day and Pope Francis I’s visit to Brazil this week, his first trip to his native South America since becoming Pontiff.

On Tuesday, DeSales Media, the communications arm of the Brooklyn Diocese, launched Pray with the Pope, a website and corresponding mobile app that allows individuals and communities to dedicate prayer time in alignment with the Holy Father’s monthly intentions.

Pray with the Pope is the first phase of a large-scale technology project designed to welcome new members to the Church and create a unified, modern Catholic experience.

The Diocese of Brooklyn has minted 20,000 Medallions, or prayer coins, all which contain a unique alphanumeric code. Recipients of the coins enter the code into the website or use the augmented reality reader embedded in the mobile app on their smartphone to “log” the coin. They can then schedule their prayer time to map it on the Prayer Wall among thousands of others, with the goal of achieving universal unbroken prayer across cultures and nations.

The next feature to be released is an interactive prayer globe, where users can view those prayers taking place in real-time as well as see where their coin has travelled. This data visualization feature uses the recently released API from Google Earth and is one of the first applications of this technology.

The Prayer Coins have been given to the youth delegation to Rio de Janeiro to evangelize and spread awareness of this new tool. They are distributing the Prayer Coins to fellow attendees.

the Diocese of Brooklyn is enabling 300 young members of the Church to travel to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.

Longtime Church supporter and celebrity Martin Sheen was the first person to receive a Medallion and has expressed admiration for the project. The interview in which he receives the coin will air as part of “Currents” on NET TV in New York this week.

* * *

Camp DeWolfe Hosts 15 Campers From ‘Project Heal the Children’

Fifteen children whose lives were devastated by Superstorm Sandy in the last year will be able to attend the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island’s Camp DeWolfe this summer. The diocese includes all of Brooklyn.

The 15 children will participate in Camp DeWolfe in Wading River free of charge, thanks to Episcopal Charities of Long Island and American Camp Association of New York, New Jersey’s Project Heal the Children. Camp DeWolfe is an accredited member of the American Camp Association, a non-profit organization whose purpose it is to enhancing the quality of summer camps. The ACA is also the premier certifying agency for all summer camps.

ACANY/NJ originally created the Heal the Children program in response to the tragedy of 9/11. Through Heal the Children, children in communities which have suffered great loss are given free summer camp sessions.

Camp DeWolfe is one of 90 day camps and overnight camps who responded to ACA NY/NJ’s appeal to donate spots for these children. Working with state agencies, politicians and relief organizations such as FEMA, ACA NY/NJ conducted an aggressive media campaign that got the word out to families affected by the devastating storm.

Susie Lupert, Executive Director of ACANY/NJ, said, “Going to summer camp will give these children the opportunity to have something to look forward to in the immediate future, a positive camp experience, while also giving their families the time and energy to focus on rebuilding their lives.”

Thanks to Episcopal Charities of Long Island’s scholarship fund, Camp DeWolfe was able to provide 100 percent coverage of camp fees for 15 applicants from the Long Island region. These campers come from diverse communities from three boroughs, including Brooklyn, to Far Rockaway to Massapequa. Although the Heal the Children program is no longer accepting applications at this time, readers can learn more about the fund and the American Campers Association through the group’s website, For further information about Camp DeWolfe, please visit their site,

* * *

America Magazine Salutes Local Social Justice Committee

The Jesuit-published weekly America Magazine, in its July 15-22 edition, has commended the Social Justice Committee of the Brooklyn Oratory at St. Boniface Church.

The Social Justice Committee was praised for its work in raising consciousness among Catholics and others on the issue of solitary confinement as a form of torture. Sr. Marion DeFeis, CSJ, a long-time Oratory parishioner, is mentioned specifically for her commitment to this cause.

* * *

Oratory Celebrates Its 25th Jubilee Through Anthology Of Recipes

The Brooklyn Oratory at St. Boniface Church, which has been celebrating its 25th anniversary year, is compiling a cookbook from Oratorians around the world and local parishioners here in the borough.

The Oratory has been assembling several recipes from the international houses of our Oratorian Confederation for a commemorative Cookbook, which will be sold at the Christmas Fair. Now family recipes from Brooklyn Oratory parishioners are also being solicited, along with background stories.

* * *


St. James Cathedral-Basilica

The cornerstone for the first Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn was laid on July 25, 1822, the feast of St. James the Greater, and was named for that patron saint.

Then-Bishop Connolly laid the cornerstone for what would become St. James Church.  It was the third Catholic church in New York City and the sixth one in New York State.

A year after the Brooklyn church was built, the site of the first Catholic Cemetery on Long Island was established at St. James. The diocesan website records that, “Between 1823-1849 there were 7,000 burials of clergy and laity. Today, this beautiful country cemetery is still preserved and revered as an urban oasis for prayer and reflection.”

St. James Church pre-dated the founding of the Roman Catholic Diocese by 31 years. The Diocese of Brooklyn also marks its 160th anniversary this month, as it was established on July 29, 1853. On Nov. 9 of that year, Rev. John Loughlin was installed as the first bishop of the new diocese, and St. James Church became a cathedral. During its 160th anniversary year, in 1982, the Vatican issued an Official Decree designating St. James Cathedral as a basilica. The seat of the diocese was renamed as “The Cathedral-Basilica of St. James.” The parish celebrated its 175th anniversary in June, 1994, when then-Diocesan Bishop Thomas V. Daily presided at a Solemn Mass for this jubilee.

Ten years ago, in September, 2003, the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio made his first pastoral visit to St. James Cathedral-Basilica as then-Bishop Designate. He celebrated the Vespers liturgy with the priests, permanent deacons and their wives, those in consecrated life and seminarians. The Vespers took place a few days before DiMarzio was installed as the 7th Bishop of Brooklyn, but this time, not at St. James. The consecration liturgy took place at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Sunset Park.

* * *

The Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church, the Flatlands Reformed Church and the Old First Reformed Church were congregations all established in the same year, on Feb. 9, 1654, according to a research website of the American Guild of Organists-New York Chapter.

Eventually, the Flatbush and Flatlands churches dropped the word “Dutch” from their names.

The three congregations were established by order of Governor Peter Stuyvesant. Their tradition and history are firmly grounded in the history of Dutch immigration and settlement and Dutch Reformed liturgy and theology. The Flatlands Reformed Church shares the distinction of being the oldest church in Brooklyn with Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope and the Flatbush Reformed Church on Flatbush and Church Avenues.

Gov. Stuyvesant’s order to establish the three congregations was not truly evangelistic or benign. Rather, he was declaring the Dutch Reformed Church to be supreme in New Amsterdam. No other religious groups—particularly Lutherans—were permitted to establish a church; and that body of Christians had to petition him to permit private gatherings for worship. Being that leaders of the Dutch West Indies Company were Lutherans, Stuyvesant was under pressure to accede to this request. But Stuyvesant then targeted other religious groups such as the Catholics and Quakers, and he was virulently anti-Semitic.

Governor Stuyvesant specified the churches’ shape and measurements: “sixty or sixty-five feet long, twenty-eight feet broad, and from twelve to fourteen feet under the beams; that it should be built in the form of a cross, and that the rear should be reserved for the minister’s dwelling. This building served the society for 44 years.”

The Flatbush Reformed Church’s website states that this church occupies the site in longest continuous use for religious purposes in the city. By contrast, the first church building in Flatlands was erected in 1662, and in Brooklyn in 1666. In 1979, the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church Complex was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.