Monday, November 26, 2007

7. St. Andrew Church (Now the Parish of Our Lady of Victory and of St. Andrew)

NOTE: In 2015 this church merged with Our Lady of Victory Church as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Both churches will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This new combined parish is called the Parish of Our Lady of Victory and of St. Andrew.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/31/2016)
Address: 20 Cardinal Hayes Place
Phone: 212.962.3972
Weekend Mass Times:
Sun: 12pm, 5pm (both English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Fri: 12:10pm, 1:05pm (both English)
Confession: 15 minutes after each Mass
Adoration: Daily 1:30pm-5pm
Rosary & Devotions: After the 12:10pm weekday Masses
Official Website
Wikipedia about Saint Andrew
Sister Church of St. Jean Baptiste

I got lost on my way to this church. Heading downtown on the A train, the weekend schedule had disrupted my direct path (as I feared it may and knew it would) around W. 4th street. I sprang up from the stairwell and was greeted by a smoke shop. I proceeded down 6th avenue. Around Church and Reade and Duane and Centre I misplaced myself for a few minutes until my barings and my Blackberry eventually set me straight. When I finally found it I realized I should have known it as that big church just kind of set near city hall.

I entered and knew almost immediately there was a good feeling of being in there.

I was about 10 minutes early - which is rare because I usually enter just as it begins or, shamefully, a few minutes after. I sat near the front. The priest - I'm not sure which of the parish priests it was: Fr. Hayes or Fr. Addai - insisted on presenting his homily in the midst of the congegration - asking direct questions to parishioners that he knew by name and involving everyone sitting there listening.

The Feast of that day was Christ the King. The priest prepared us for next week's first week of Advent - and instructed us over and over again that we should be prepared this season for anything to happen - because things will come from the left and right...

additional photos...
Note: I attended the 12:10pm daily Mass today and was struck again by how beautiful this church is. I had kind of forgotten because I hadn't been back since my original visit and all I had to go on were these photos above which do it no justice whatsoever.  It's dark, quiet and the art is well lit.  It is like entering another world in the middle of the work day.  There were about 20 or so in the congregation, I assume all as happy and pleased as I to be there.  The priest must have been a music teacher in another life because before he began, he instructed all of us on how to sing the opening song, verse by verse - and then we sang...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

6. All Saints Church

(mass times & church info last updated 03/07/2016) 
Address: 47 East 129th @ Madison Ave.
Phone: 212.534.3535, 212.534.7957
Weekend Mass Times:
Sunday: 10am (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Wed, Thu: 7pm
Sat: 9am (Morning Prayer and Mass)
Sat: 6pm or 6:30pm-7pm (or by appointment)
Rosary: Wednesday 6pm (English)
Rosary: Thursday 6pm (Spanish)
Adoration: Wed & Thu after Mass (English)
Post-Church Activity: conversation
Official Website
About the Organ
Harlem Site
Encyclopedia Britannica
Landmark Conservancy

There is only one Weekend Mass at this Harlem Roman Catholic Church and it is at 10am on Sundays and I highly suggest you attend it if ever you have the chance. It is a Gospel Mass - and the singing is outstanding.

The only sad depression of note, which you may find for yourself if you attend, is a lack of congregation.

I envisioned a loud church, a filled-to-capacity-psuedo-cathedral in the midst of Harlem. But, as always the case in most Masses I go to these days, the congregation was sparse, absent, gone. There were maybe 30 in attendance and because it is another old, big, classic church it just seemed strangely empty to me.

That in itself didn't really stop me from enjoying the Mass and the celebration and getting a lot from it, however. There was singing and clapping and during Peace time - when everyone is sharing a handshake and a "Peace be with you," with each other - which lasted about 10 minutes, everyone was so nice and outgoing. A stranger to the city wouldn't of known it was New York.

At the end of the Mass, so many people greeted my friend and I and told us to come back. There was such immense joy and gladness in everyone's eye. My hour and a half at this church in Harlem couldn't help but remind me of Africa and all the wonderful and kind people I met there.

If you've happened upon this blog and are at all interested in attending any of these churches I've written about - you should definately attend this one, this 10am Mass, and greet the people that side for me.

Another note of interest - my friend who attended is a young pretty Catholic girl and of course, if you're getting to know me at all, I couldn't help but to continue to think of her after we spent the rest of the day together, enjoying each other's company very much and agreeing that we should get together again very soon...

Additional Photos...

Just went here for Wednesday evening Mass that was supposed to start at 7pm. By 7:15pm when no priest had shown up I decided to leave, but not before walking around the strangely lit sanctuary to take some photos and dropping a donation into the box.

(By the way, there are some big discrepancies currently between the bulletin I picked up at the front of the church and the website. For instance, the website says there are daily Masses everyday of the week, but the bulletin only says Wednesday and Thursday. The Mass times listed above are taken from the bulletin, but I highly suggest any visitors call the parish before heading to this big, beautiful church.)

Speaking of which, All Saints church was so much bigger and more beautiful than I remember it being (7 years ago!) and I still stand by my initial assessment: you should go visit this church and take in the grandeur of it, however aging it is.

While I waited for the Mass to begin that never would (which I believe would have taken place in the small side chapel area pictured below in the last photo), I believe I was sitting down in or around the same pew as my friend and I did years before. I began reflecting how strange it would be if I could reach back in time and talk to my (7 years) younger self. I wonder, since the Almighty knows no bounds of time, if God ever reaches back in time to speak to us, or into the future — telling us it will all, eventually, be all right.

It was funny sitting with my female friend 7 years ago, who I was obviously a little bit attracted too; who eventually became my Confirmation sponsor; who I now no longer speak to or have any contact with — not because we had a falling out or anything, but simply because that's what happens over time.

My life, in so many ways, is so much better now than it was back then and I am grateful. I'm happy to say, I am now married, having found the perfect mate to share my life with. Not perfect in any sense or list I would have designed 7 years ago, but perfect in a real, well-matched in reality, honest, sincere, loving and true way.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

5. Church of the Holy Agony (CLOSED)

NOTE: In 2015 this church closed down and was merged into St. Cecilia Church as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only St. Cecilia's will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This combined parish is called St. Cecilia Parish.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/20/2016) 
Address: 1834 3rd Ave. @ 101st St.
Phone: 212.289.5589
Post-Church Activity:
(I had to go to work today - blech!)

This church on the edge of Spanish Harlem and the Upper East side is small and simplistic. It is a mostly Spanish speaking community it serves and this morning attending the 9:30am Sunday English mass I wondered if I would have been having a more energetic spiritual experience if I had chosen to attend one of the many Spanish speaking masses it offers. I've attended Spanish churches before and though I speak barely any Spanish, there is still such a strong sense of why one is there during the praise and festiveness of a Spanish Mass. On that note, I've also observed that English language Masses at these Spanish churches are always somewhat subdued and very very mellow. I guess the root of all this is language barriers.

This is the smallest and most bare church I've attended in New York City - the decor is standard and certainly no where near the ornateness of St. Paul the Apostle or St. Francis Xavier. As I sat there it did strike me that a lesson could certainly be learned in this. This small square structure up on 101st street, with it's simple Stations of the Cross and standard Catholic statues and stained glass windows practices the same things that go on each week in those other churches I've been to - same rituals, readings, format and celebration of the Eucharist - just without all the grandeur I saw in the others. What does all that mean to a worshipper?

I know on many instances of walking into a church I am just so happy and thankful to be there at all, feeling the peace and presence that accompanies it. Other times it feels really great to be in a beautiful and grand structure - almost as if one feels God so much more because of the grandness. And isn't that why churches were once built so immense and inspiring - to glorify and praise God? But isn't a simple room with nothing more than prayer just as good?

Today I realize (if I hadn't before) that the New York City stratosphere of status and wealth is exemplified in all these churches just as it infiltrates every other aspect of life here.

additional photos...

This church is far more beautiful than I remember it being from my first visit detailed above. I'm not sure if that's because I may have left shortly after Mass the first time and missed out on exploring and viewing all the art, or if they have refurbished and renovated at some point in the last 5 and half years. I enjoyed my visit here this morning, after having attended Mass at Holy Rosary, and then peaking into St. Ann before dropping by here. There was a Spanish service happening as I walked in, so I sat down quietly in the back and took in some of the sites I couldn't recall from before. After Mass ended, I took my time walking around, enjoying the statues, the windows, the paintings, and most especially a really intriguing crucifix at the back of the church, hidden away in the dark Capilla Chapel. It's not life-size or anything, but it is incredibly lifelike. It's also a little bit gory. I wasn't sure at the time if I liked it or not. I'm still not, but I think I do. Something about the eyes, really presenting the humanity of Christ to the viewer. And the place is called "holy agony" after all. I also looked for the priest to hand him a long overdue donation from some of my ad revenue, but not finding him I shoved a bunch of cash into the candle donation box at the back of the church, lit a few electronic candles for some friends and loved ones, and then disappeared into an overcast, drizzly New York day.