By Francesca Norsen Tate Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen’s Church began in the year 1882 under the name of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, with Father Joseph Fransioli as the founding priest for The Catholic Mission of the Italian Colony of the City of Brooklyn. According to the current parish website, this mission “was the first Roman Catholic parish community established specifically for Italian immigrants in the Diocese of Brooklyn, which comprised the whole of Long Island, including the counties of Kings, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk.
Sacred Hearts was establishedas a national parish that served neighborhood parishioners but also welcomed all Italians. Initially, the new Italian parish occupied space belonging to St. Peter’s church, at the corner of Warren and Hicks Streets.”
Church leaders, seeing a need to be closer to the center of the Italian community, opened a new building three years later on President Street near Van Brunt Street. A parish school was also founded 120 years ago, in 1892, by Mother Cabrini and her order.
On Dec. 7, 1941, ironically the same day in history as the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II, the parish bid farewell to Sacred Hearts Church, which was set to be demolished. Parishioners moved to their new church, St. Stephen’s, The parish is called Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen’s Church, and has its home in St. Stephen’s Church, beautifully-maintained sanctuary at Hicks and Summit streets.
Each year, the parish hosts the Italians of Mola di Bari in their Maria Addolorata procession. The event takes place near the date that Catholics commemorate as the birthday of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.