Sunday, June 29, 2008

33b. St. Frances Cabrini Shrine and Chapel

(mass times & church info last updated 03/23/2016)
Address: 701 Ft. Washington Ave.
Phone: 212.923.3536
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sun: 9am, 11am (both English)
4th Saturdays: 2pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Tue-Sat: 12pm (English)
Shrine Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-5pm
Official Website
Shrine: Mystery Worshipper
Shrine & School: Trip Advisor
Catholic Blog articles about St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
More About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Additional About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
(originally posted Wed. July 16, 2008, 10:13pm, as part of this post)
I have since visited the Mother Cabrini Shrine up in Washington Heights, located at 701 Fort Washington Ave. (212-923-3536). I had no idea until I accomplished a wee more research that the Saint's body was preserved and on display here. I walked in after attending Mass at St. Elizabeth - they were celebrating the birthday of Mother Cabrini - the church was filled with a Spanish speaking congegration and there was both solemnity as well as celebration in the air.

This is definitely a place you should visit if you are a New York Catholic.

(new pictures added below on May 12, 2010, 10:58pm)

33. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini / Good Shepherd Chapel (Roosevelt Island) (Now the Church of St. John Nepomucene, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini & St. John the Martyr)

NOTE: In 2015 the church of St. John the Martyr closed down and was merged into the churches of St. John Nepomucene and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Roosevelt Island) as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only St. John Nepomucene and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This combined parish of East River Catholic churches is called the Church of St. John Nepomucene, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini & St. John the Martyr.

This article states that as of July 2015 "the New York Archdiocese signed a 35-year agreement with Related/Hudson, the landlord of 504 Main St. [on Roosevelt Island] to take over the building’s second floor" as a new permanent space for the parish of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. If you are reading this and have any news on the status of this parish, it's new location or Mass times, please feel free to leave a note in the comments section below. Thanks!

PS - (04/29/2016) - I just heard word that the above article is accurate and the church will be relocating to 504 Main St. with a library on the first floor and a substantial church on the 2nd floor, however that will take a year and a half or more, so in the meantime the addresses below of both chapels are where Mass is currently taking place.

(mass times & church info last updated 04/29/2016)
Chapel of the Good Shepherd, 543 Main St., Roosevelt Island
Cabrini Chapel, 564 Main St., Roosevelt Island
Phone: 212.734.4613
Weekend Mass Times: 
8:15am (English, at the Cabrini Chapel)
11:15am (English, at the Chapel of the Good Shepherd)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon: 6:45pm (English, at the Cabrini Chapel)
Tue-Fri: 9am (English, at the Cabrini Chapel)
Confession: before or after Masses

Mother Cabrini Chapel Mass Times (701 Ft. Washington Ave. in Manhattan):
Sun: 9am, 11am (English)
4th Saturdays: 2pm (Spanish)
Tue-Sat: 12pm (English)

Official Website
A blog entry about Roosevelt Island
Another blog entry about Roosevelt Island
Catholic Blog articles about St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
More About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Additional About St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Shrine
Shrine: Mystery Worshipper
Shrine & School: Trip Advisor

Does Roosevelt Island remind anyone out there of the island on The Prisoner?

It's a really strange place that exists in the middle of New York City and my Sunday morning was made so strange because of it.

Yesterday I was in such a conflict as to whether to head to Mass and Confession, or to spend some time with friends. I really felt the need to sit in a church and be at some peace, but then I wondered if it might not be better to stay with my friends (there are a quite a bit of them here in the city for the time being and that may not always be the case. ) I was almost out the door on my way to Roosevelt Island when I decided to spend the afternoon and evening with my friends. I'm not going to say it was the wrong decision, I had some good quality time with them, but it did force me to put off my confession, Mass, and my peace.

And this morning I paid dearly for it - waking up in so much inner turmoil and confusion.

I sat many hours with my friends yesterday, told old stories, laughed and made jokes, played cards and drank lots of beer. And through it all - all the good times - I still somehow felt so disconnected and away from them all. I ended the night drinking beers by myself on my fire escape trying to make sense of it all and feeling pathetic for myself - shameful and selfish, I know - and ridiculous. And then off I went to bed.

And I woke up in such a kind of fever - it was incredibly hot outside, the heat having only now just broken and abated via a thunderstorm - at a very early hour and I couldn't (and didn't wish to) go back to sleep and I just sat there in bed kind of sweating it all out - thoughts and all. I showered and decided to head off to the earlier 8:15am mass - and seeing how it was so early I decided to walk some of the way.

From 65th and Broadway I began heading across town. Shame on Hopstop for misguiding me with their walking directions, and shame on me for being dumb. The directions told me to head over the Queensborough Bridge - and I was in such a hungover state, and so cloudy in my head and my heart and just about everywhere, that I blindly walked over it. Only when I was standing directly above Roosevelt Island did I realize that the bridge would not deliver me to the small island between Manhattan and Queens, only to Queens. I decided, seeing as I was halfway across already, to continue onward to Queens. After the bridge I searched frantically for an "F" train to drop me off at the Roosevelt Island stop.

By this time the humidity and my recovery sweat had taken it's toll on my mind and body. As I stood waiting in the further heat of the subterranean subway stop I tried to make some sense of the stupid and ridiculous journey I had taken. Aimless, with only a hint of where I was going; not guided, but self-guiding blindly; not clear, but cloudy and hapless.

Eventually I did make it to the church, missing the first half but making it in time for Communion - though I was sweaty and felt terribly grimy. I slinked into a back row and sat sulkily while the priest was praying over the Eucharist. Where had I been going; what was I doing here?

I'm a little confused because I guess there are two churches near each other - one is St. Frances Cabrini Chapel, and the other is the Good Shepherd Chapel. I believe weekend services are held at Good Shepherd chapel. So I suppose I did not visit St. Frances Cabrini after all. And I also believe that Good Shepherd is an Episcopalian church that is used for Roman Catholic Mass on the weekends. Once again, all these places are just great churches to be in (once you actually arrive to them, that is.) This church appears a little rundown, I believe it was last renovated in the 1970's. The decor and art is nowhere near as ornate as some of the other Manhattan churches - but it does have it's appeal elsewhere. There is a beautiful rose window in the back of the church, and the exterior of the building is quite nice (take a look at the above blog link.) Perhaps if I have time one day I will go back and take photos of the Cabrini chapel and add them below today's entry.

After Mass I took some photos of the Good Shepherd Chapel and walked around a bit - the island is so strange. It's Manhattan, but it's eerily quiet. It feels like an odd mix between the ostracized colony it once was, a retirement village and a vacation resort.

I headed back to the subway, taking the escalator far below ground, this week's service and adventure not giving me any peace. I am a wreck, a mess, a terror unto myself.

- - -
PART II (posted Tues. July 1, 2008, 1:58pm)
I went back to Roosevelt Island yesterday for the 7pm Monday Mass - this time at the St. France Cabrini chapel.

I took the tram this time - it was a mix of residents and tourists - I supposed I fit somewhere in between.

The chapel is very small - about four or five rows of pews only, and the altar right near the first of them. The priest, who mentioned he will be there next Monday as well, was very good and gave a great homily - all about duty and persevering. There are interesting looking gold stations on the wall, and nice relief sculptures flanking the altar - one of St. Frances Cabrini, I believe.

Attending there last night allowed me to feel better about everything and my missteps of the past weekend and some of what came before. I walked quietly away from the chapel as they began the Novena and headed back towards Manhattan, again via the tram. Roosevelt Island is still to me a strange and mysterious place and there is definitely a bizarre vibe about the island. I have the feeling that those residents there do not experience this vibe - instead they have made a home and carved a place for themselves in that part of the city.

Now, only if I may do the same somewhere, discover my roll, carve a place, perform my duty, and persevere in something.
- - -
PART III (posted Wed. July 16, 2008, 10:13pm)
(Click here for a more complete post of the St. Frances Cabrini Shrine and Chapel)

I have since visited the Mother Cabrini Shrine up in Washington Heights, located at 701 Fort Washington Ave. (212-923-3536). I had no idea until I accomplished a wee more research that the Saint's body was preserved and on display here. I walked in after attending Mass at St. Elizabeth - they were celebrating the birthday of Mother Cabrini - the church was filled with a Spanish speaking congegration and there was both solemnity as well as celebration in the air.

This is definitely a place you should visit if you are a New York Catholic.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

32. Our Lady of Peace (CLOSED, but under review)

NOTE: In 2015 this church closed down and was merged into St. John the Evangelist Church as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only St. John's will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This combined parish is called St. John the Evangelist-Our Lady of Peace Church. However, the parishioners of Our Lady of Peace have been working diligently to prevent their church closure and to remain open to continue their mission to save their beautiful and landmarked church. I applaud this effort as this was one of my favorite churches I visited during my journey, one which gave me much peace. If you wish to help the good folks of Our Lady of Peace, you can find out more about their progress here, or sign this petition to help save the church or join their Facebook page.

(church info last updated 03/25/2016)
Address: 237 East 62nd Street (between 2nd & 3rd sts.)
Phone: 212.838.3189
Our Lady of Peace Old Website
New Official Parish Website
About the Organ

Another weird experience in church this week, this time verified by a friend in attendance with me. It was just a strange vibe. I decided to go to Saturday Mass because I felt I needed to go to Confession. As always, I misjudged my time allowance and ended up arriving too late for Confession, but right in time for Mass. This church is small and decorated beautifully. It (seems to me) shares Eastern and Gothic decor - but I may be very wrong. The choir and music were also very beautiful - remember how I spoke of churches sometimes carrying me off into that Narnian feeling? The music here accomplished that verily - there was something medieval about it.

I'm not sure how much wisdom or truth or anything of the sort exists in this blog - it's basically a record I keep for myself of churches visited (as well as Mass times, logistics, etc.) and I use it quite often on the go to determine where nearby churches are and when I can attend. I'm not sure who out there is reading my often mediocre writings and dribblings about my typical NYC existence and the base fact that I attend Mass each week - or my slow journey towards peace. I realize though that the best part of this blog is for me - and it does not happen when writing these entries or uploading any of these photos - it happens each time I enter one of these churches and discover a new place of peace, palace of sanctuary. That is the time that is best - and whatever my writing skills are, they suffer from not being able to detail to you, the virtual reader, what I really felt or went through upon entering and hearing the music; or the emotion I sometimes feel during the Eucharist; or the peace that falls over me towards the end of each Mass. These are the truths and wisdoms and beauties I obtain from this entire experience - and I wish I could somehow share that across this blog all the better than I do.

And I highly suggest you do the same. If you live in the city - visit some of these grand and majestic places (no matter what the actual size.) And if you live elsewhere, visit the different houses of God in your own village, town, city, metropolis, country. Sometimes, if you feel yourself spiritually stagnant - a new place of worship - even for one weekend - is enough to revitalize oneself and help you remember the fundamentals of why you go in the first place.

All that said, I realize over my time going to these various churches (these magnificent places and I love them and they offer me welcome and a kind of sustenance I can't describe) I have missed out on that community aspect of faith - of belonging to a church and a parish and a people. This is an excercise in faith and discovery, and lately I have discovered it is a lonely one. There are so many great places I travel to in this city, up and down the subway lines, through tunnels, trains under water, buses across the cityscape - and so often so many of all these activities are so lonesome. New York is a great city, a friendly city, a magnificent and crazy and wonderful and terrible place. But New York can be a lonely city.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

31. Church of the Nativity (CLOSED)

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

(church info last updated 03/23/2016)
Address: 44 2nd Ave. (between 2nd & 3rd sts.)
Phone: 212.674.8590
About the Organ
An NY Times article from 1900 about a priest

The most important lesson I have learned about Christianity in the last few months is that of forgiveness. Now, of course, growing up a cradle Catholic I have always been aware of the forgiveness aspect of Catholicism and Christianity, but only recently have come to realize the great importance of it.

Attending regular confession over the last 2 months (and planning on continuing this once a month) has helped me to maintain focus on this forgiveness element. Christ forgives all the wrong I commit as long as I admit I have done wrong and plan not to continue on the sinful path. And of course this is extremely difficult to do - we are all sinful creatures - but admitting it, reflecting on it and praying about it helps in healing these rifts we create between ourselves and God. Confession acts as a reminder as well of the importance of forgiveness and that I should always forgive others in my life if they do me any wrong or harm. I should never harbor any ill will.

I was recently confirmed - a step on my "path" which I am very happy to have taken at this point in my life. I feel I now understand many things about the Church and my faith that before I was somewhat blind to. As I stood near the altar and the Bishop blessed me with the holy Chrism, rubbing it into my forehead and saying a prayer I was suddenly removed from the church we were in - the background of the building, the candles, statues, everything just kind of dropped away and I felt like I was outside in some green pasture on the side of a slowly rising mountain and it was all surreal for a moment. And then it was over and I went back to the pew with my sponsor and back to my life - but with a new name and a new commitment to my faith.

Now, I have taken the whole Confirmation process and sacrament very seriously this time around and felt that it would herald a change in my life. Within the very week I was confirmed however, I have immediately turned around and began sinning again - as if I have no control over my actions or, if I do, maintain no will power to do better than I am doing. And that is when I began thinking deeply about forgiveness. We are all imperfect and it is better that we are sinful with intentions of improvement attending Mass and being part of this community rather than sinning and not attending.
- - -
The Church of the Nativity on the Lower East Side is a smaller very modern building. It seems very simple - yet the community is incredibly welcoming. The priest at today's 12pm Mass gave a fantastic sermon (as I'm certain happens every week), the music was good and it just felt simple and right to be there. Of course, with the ever growing heat we are experiencing in this city it was muggy and sweaty, but never mind that.

If you are staying nearby this church (very close to the 2nd avenue F and V subway stop) you should absolutely attend. I must say this church experience was slightly strange, a little bit weird. Church of the Nativity is not as eloquent as some of the other churches in Manhattan I have visited. The formality and sacredness of the Mass is all very much there - and truly that is all that is important - the validity of the sacraments, that and that they are all so welcoming - but, the organization and the church itself doesn't appear to a visitor as well kept as, say, some of those crazy big East side churches. Of course, one has to assume, that many of those East side churches have a lot more cash flow than a lot of the others. The decor' of the church wasn't overwhelming; the musicians were a little bit off (they were new, it was their first day playing in a church environment) so understandably so. All in all I was glad to be there though. I love visiting a new environment myself each week - it reminds one of all the similarities these places have in common despite the differences in location, congregation and capitol. I like them all - from the most elegent, to the least formal; from uptown to downtown; very devout and orthodox to the more liberal ones - it is an honor to be welcomed to all these holy places.

Later on in the day, my roommate dragged me along to the Williamsburg Renegade Craft Fair that took place at the McCarren Park Pool. It turned out to be really great being and I was happy I had come. Suddenly walking around the booths a calmness fell over me, as if someone was praying for me or the general overall good energy of the people at the craft fair soaked into me.

I needed that calm because I just feel so desperate and worried lately. I'm uncertain about my career and what to do with it (and sometimes trying to ascertain if I even have one!) Finanical issues, love, unhappiness - everything is plaguing me lately and I don't know where to turn. I have become obsessed with this blogging effort and visting these churches - it too gives me calm each week when I enter these houses of God, but shortly after I leave, the despondence sets in and grows ever more and more.

View from McCarren Park Pool

Sunday, June 1, 2008

30. St. Joseph (Greenwich Village & NYU)

(mass times & church info last updated 04/24/2016)
Address: 371 Sixth Avenue
Phone: 212-741-1274
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 9am, 11:30am, 6pm (NYU Student Mass) (all English)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Sat: 12:10pm (English)
Mon-Fri: 5:15pm (English, during the Academic year at the John Henry Cardinal Newman Chapel)
Confession: Sat: 4:30pm-5:15pm
Rosary: 2nd Mondays after the 12:10pm Mass
Official Website
Wikipedia Entry about the Church
Various NY Times articles
About St. Joseph
St. Joseph (Battery Park City)
St. Joseph (Chinatown)
St. Joseph (Yorkville)
St. Joseph of the Holy Family (Harlem)
- - -
This church is small, pristine, easy to sit in and pay attention to the readings and Eucharist. They have a small rooftop area where they often throw receptions or events. It is a place where it is easy to pray and a church I assume to be an asset to the people in the area, to New York University and to New York City in general.

I enjoyed my time here today, yet after Mass I grew so solemn and despondent - there was a lonesomeness growing within, something which amasses in size day to day, something I really can't help prevent, just something that is. It's forlorn, it's stress, it's despair. All those words mean is lack of faith, strength, lack of memory, lack of thankfulness, lack of wisdom; the loss of something bigger than me and all of us within me and growing.

I've gone to confession a couple times already, and need to go again soon, because something I am just now beginning to realize I need to confess to is my judgmental attitude, my weakness in forgiving, the fact I hold grudges - and everything else that falls somewhere in between.

- - -
I just recently went to go see Prince Caspian with friends. I have always been a huge fan of these C.S. Lewis books and when I saw the first film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I have to admit I was a little dissapointed - I considered the acting to be a bit weak, some story changes abhorent and overall it was trying to be just too Lord of the Rings. Fortunately, enough time had passed from the last time I read through the books so I was not so miffed when watching Caspian the other day, I was actually quite pleased. (All the crazy battles added and characters not included didn't bother me at all.)

If you know of the movie or the book then you know that one of the many themes of this story is the coming of age into adulthood denies one further entrance into the world of Narnia. As I watched the film, this theme played over and over again in my head. At the end of the story, Aslan the great Lion tells Peter and Susan that they can no longer come back to Narnia, as they are too old. Isn't it so true that with all the "good" adulthood brings, it too brings with it loss of innocence, (often) lack of imagination and despair in faith. Faith, imagination and innocence are all very necessary traits one should carry with them throughout life, tools that can assist during life, things which lead us to live good lives and ultimately meet the ending of our lives gracefully and with meaning.

I am thinking about all of this in the context of my own life. After my years wandering (slightly), traveling, heading to Africa - I have landed here in NYC and my main goal was to obtain adulthood, a five year plan which would bring me wealth, status, a wife, insurance - all of the very adult and very responsible things we "need" to live our lives. And none of these are bad things inherently, in fact, they are obviously all good things. But I realize that I, in my pursuit of these things, and probably others too, maybe even you, have lost other things that are important along the way. Faith, imagination and innocence. These are things I should cling to, things we should never let go of, lose touch of, let slip our grasp.

Immediately after the film ended and the credits began rolling I sat in deep thought on childlikeness versus my adultness and what I have lost and what I have failed to keep important. I am lucky enough that I have witnessed in me, over the past year, a serious return to faith. If you know anything of the Narnian world, you know the human characters that get the chance to travel there love and appreciate every single moment they have there. And if you, like me, have read the books with an open heart, you too feel a joy about Narnia and even a slight (imagination!) desire to go there yourself. As I sat during the credit roll I reflected on last week's church experience - St. Vincent Ferrer - and thought to myself that at that moment last week, sitting inside this brilliant church, that is the most recent occasion in which I have felt some kind of "magic" - possibly the kind of magic one finds in Narnia.

And I determined right then and there, with credits rolling and my friends sitting nearby, to rid myself of as much "adultness" as safely possible and again open myself to the childlikeness that gets you into Narnia, that opens up the kingdom of heaven to you.

And I began trying to compile a list of my adult-like atrocities, and I realized it is quite difficult to do, because so many of these adult-like things are so pragmatic here and "seemingly" necessary - I have to develop and use a kind of filter to determine the differences. For instance:

1) My job is necessary, but any kind of love or obsession with money that comes with it, the acquisition and accumulation of wealth and status and fortune could very well border on an "adultness" trait,

2) Relationships - my intense desire right now to find the "right" girl to be with and to marry is not in itself "adult" or wrong, but it's all about how I go about it. I mentioned that I have begun online dating - this is the very definition of pragmatic "adultness" Where is the adventure, where is the fun? When an online-instigated date finally happens - both parties have come to it with so much intention and built up expectation that there is no naturalness to it. You are both looking for someone, you both have traits that you each find attractive - but when meeting in person there is no chemistry. I'm somewhat outgoing, personally, and when I meet a stranger conversation comes naturally, and laughter and some fun, but where is the chemistry? Where are the pheromones? The internet removes these from the dating/mating act completely. Not to mention that online dating opens one up to so many chances and possibilities that I, in my bad habit of a way, cannot stop thinking about all the other possibilities I may be losing out on when I begin "chatting" with or seeing one of the girls. Also, none of them are what I expect or hope for or similar to the idea I have of them in my head when I meet them. They're all a bit older looking than their pictures show; they're all a little bit spastic or mental as the years creep by and they haven't found the person they want to marry. After a short experience with the whole thing, I feel I'm not cut out for online dating - and it's all only made me realize that these "Catholics" I'm looking for are no better and no worse than any of the other non-Catholic girls I've been dating. Then why is it so important to me?

3) Alcohol - why is it that we all need such quantities and regular amounts of alcohol to get on with our lives? Children abound in energy, never needing or desiring to poison themselves with these substances to "alter" their moods and their minds. We are a community of people gathering and poisoning ourselves in order to celebrate - celebrate what?

4) Clothing - I get so caught up in how I look, how I am reflected in other people's eyes, how I look compared to these other people. Truly something "adult" and decadent and misleading and wrong. Of course, one has to look nice - but being in this city - along with all the regular, humble, plain and wonderful folk, there are those who are so pompous, so into their image and their stance and status - and why is it that I fall into this trap, as well as the many others, which lead me to follow everything material that has so little to do with grace?

These are just some of the few of the "adult-like" traps that "get" me from day to day.

My friend and I began discussing the other Narnia books in detail after we left the theater. We spoke about the final book, The Last Battle, and the fate of one of the characters, Susan. We couldn't remember what happens to her in the end - we knew she suffers some kind of loss of belief in Narnia and she may or may not enter Narnia or "heaven" in the end, but the book leaves it very ambiguous - and this whole concept of what happens to Susan fits right in with the overall theme I walked away with from Prince Caspian.

Some would also claim that Susan is excluded from Narnia simply because she doesn't believe in Narnia any longer: Lewis is alluding to loss of faith, and of imagination, when we fail to retain "childlike" simplicity. This could be said to lend negative connotations to faith, suggesting that to believe, one's mind must remain childish and simplistic. It could also be said that Susan's attitude is the opposite of Jesus' teachings, "Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven." [Matt 18:2-4]. The 'growing up' mentioned is saying that Susan doesn't have the right attitude in respects to Narnia and as such cannot go there.
And what of my attitudes, my respects, my beliefs? Am I too far gone adult? Have I lost enough of the innocence there ever was in me to prevent ever traveling to that Narnian otherworld, that heaven which I most dearly hope awaits us all, even the sorriest sinner out there, one who continually lapses and falls and fails and disappoints?