Sunday, August 10, 2008

36. St. Gregory the Great

NOTE: In 2015 this church was part of a list of churches in danger of merging with other churches or closing altogether as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. This doesn't seem to have happened and this church remains open for regular Masses and other events. If you have any news about this closure or lack thereof please feel free to write in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

(mass times & church info last updated 03/22/2016)
Address: 144 W. 90th St. (between Columbus & Amsterdam)
Phone: 212.724.9766
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5:30pm (English)
Sun: 8am (English), 10am (Spanish), 11:30am (English), 1pm (French)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Fri: 12pm (English)
Tue, Thu: 9am (Spanish)
Sat: 12pm (English)
First Fridays Masses: 12pm (English), 7pm (Spanish)
Tue, Thu: 11:30am-12pm
Sat: 4:30pm-5:15pm
First Thursdays: 12:30pm-5pm
Miraculous Medal Novena & Benediction:
Mondays after the 12pm Mass
Official Website
St. Gregory the Great School
About St. Gregory the Great
Upper West Side Developments

There are strangers out there praying for me.

I must wonder if this is the sort of thing I had in mind when I began this blog?

Honestly, no.

All it was really was this sense that there were these 96 Catholic churches out there just waiting for me to walk inside of and I felt the need to register this act in some way - to record it. I did think about keeping a journal - but that process seemed somewhat internalized. I thought it better to begin a blog (something I knew very little of at the time.) Really it was just going to be info on the church and maybe a few random thoughts of mine from that week. Then when I got to the first church I thought I had surely better take a photo with my phone because there is just so much artwork and I need to do something further to remember the experience. Then I began writing and stuff just kind of came out - really now that I think of it hasn't this all been some kind of long confession? The blog title might just as well be Reconciliation - A Young Man's Turmoil in Discovering 96 Houses of God.

So I've confessed - my sins, my human nature, my drinking, my women, to myself, to my God, to the priests at some of these very churches. And has it mattered - have any of these confessions been worthwhile? No they have not. For some reason I cannot let go my sins. I'm not saying I was always continually committing them - but that in spite of the priests' absolutions and the knowledge of God's forgiveness, I wasn't forgiving myself of some of these things, I was holding onto the sins quite possibly because I felt I had little else to hold on to.

What a disaster of the human consciousness! To grasp something detrimental because there is nothing else within reach. Of course, there is always Something within reach, often closer than we think. So why do we fall? Why do we we fall so far below that which we are to be, into the very pits of hell, into the very depths of the unknown darkness. The dark, unseen, yet so much easier to reach for than at the light which absolutely calls to us - and we are blind and deaf and ignorant.

I write this blog and I go to these churches because, as Drusilla pointed out to me, God is tugging at me. He's actually screaming at me, lassoing me, throwing rocks nightly at my window, IMing me with "High Importance" messages, leaving voicemails, sending texts, shaking me awake and a bunch of other things. And I'm here and sometimes I listen. God is that strong force with the wee voice in the very back of my head which I learned once to listen to, always, but thusly learned that it's so very hard to hear.

Fallen Sparrow's blog
is what I meant this blog to be if only I was a better writer, researcher and soul. Thank you again, Fallen Sparrow, for your words and yours, Dawn Reader - I'm not sure when you first came across my ramblings, or when your prayers started, but they began working right off, I daresay. (By the way, the Memorare is one of my very favorite prayers and I say it at least once daily - and when I do say it I am always reminded of a green field in Kentucky when I first prayed it with such intensity and so very real intentions.)

In that time between my first Memorare (first real one, anyway) and yours', many prayers have been answered and many more have been prayed. Lately these days inside a church, or sitting somewhere else, I ask three things of God, consistently, and that these things be answered if it be His will. That my monsters cease tormenting me; that if there is a woman out there for me I may find her and treat her well and be faithful and good and devoted and kind; and for God to point me in the direction He requires of me, and set me in a place I know that I am serving his will, and doing some kind of good.

For now at least it seems as if the second prayer has been answered.

She is different than the others and I am different for knowing her and wanting to be true to her. She is sweet and seemingly all the good things I have sought after. What am I to her, what will I be?

A few weeks ago I finally fell free of my sins from before, releasing them to God as we should all learn to do. I gave them up. Along with my sins I gave away those portions of my past I have so desperately and mistakenly clung to. I have now repented and now no longer wish to look back at my past with any sort of yearning - that too is some kind of sin.

For now I will only look forward - to some kind of path, some kind of life, some kind of good doing. I will begin to look forward towards her. And I will look forward always to God.

I apologize to all those still reading any of this who are interested in actual information about St. Gregory's as opposed to my silly ramblings - which have gone on long enough, don't you think?

This is a nice first floor/basement church with a school building sitting atop it. The ceiling is flat and you do not find the majesty of the vaulted high ceilings you find in other churches, but you do find a wonderful mural of many saints on the wall behind the altar. The priest this Sunday (and I apologize I do not know who it was,) an older gentleman, spoke solidly and talked about Ingrid Betancourt - what a brave woman was she.

The singing of the choir was enchanting - again something medieval and/or Narnian about it. The song which caught the bulk of my attention was My Soul in Stillness Waits. Something about the tune and the tone always grabs me - it's serious, and mystic.

I sat near the stained glass of the right side of the building, occasionally looking up at The Last Supper, not noticing Judas slinking away into the dark - and then he was all that I noticed.

I felt better at this church than I have felt at any of these churches in a long time. Perhaps it was the prospect of some new life I see before me. Because we bless ourselves with holy water upon entering and exiting the church each week at Mass, and celebrate the Eucharist and go through Jesus' life and resurrection - isn't this the way we should leave Mass every week - a prospect of some new kind of life?

But this week I feel it stronger than perhaps how I should feel it each week. I feel relieved - and blessed - and happy - and strong - and faithful.

But life is hard and I know that in the past I have been a wreck, and perhaps wrecked others. Even though I feel a change coming on does not mean that I won't simply slip back into the habits of my old ways - I know that this is all but certain to happen - and I hate that, and I don't know if I am prepared. I am surely to fall along the way.

And when I do fall, and oh I will fall so badly, I will feel myself forced in the very least to record it here, for you my brothers and sisters to read and to see and to witness - as God above witnesses. And in the meantime, please, if you will, keep up your prayers for me, as I desperately am in need, as I attempt this existence, as I wander from church to church still seeking that which I do not yet find within, in this great and terrible place, chaos mounting in other lands, and I, here, endeavoring to calm the chaos of my heart to bring stillness to my soul that I may pass it on to others. This is it, this is what will happen, this is what I have.

Good or bad this is my New York, my experience, my life, my love, my God.

My Soul In Stillness Waits, by Marty Haugen
For you, O lord, my soul in stillness waits. Truly my hope is in you.

O Lord of Light, our only hope of glory, your radiance shines in all who look to you. Come light the hearts of all in dark and shadow.

O Spring of Joy, rain down upon our spirits. Our thirsty hearts are yearning for your Word. Come, make us whole; be comfort to our hearts.

O Root of Life, implant your seed within us, and in your advent draw us all to you, our hope reborn in dying and in rising.

O Key of Knowledge, guide us in our pilgrimage, We ever seek, yet unfulfilled remain. Open to us the pathway of your peace.

Come, let us bow before the God who made us. Let every heart be opened to the Lord, for we are all the people of his hand.

Here we shall meet the makers of the heavens, creator of the mountains and the seas, Lord of the stars and present to us now.

For you, O lord, my soul in stillness waits. Truly my hope is in you.


  1. I discovered your blog through Dawn, and right at your last post. I've been praying for you and thinking about your situation since then. Some of the things you say remind me of some of my own behavior in the past--the longing for the past, trying to drown out the pain by wallowing in sinful and destructive behavior.

    I wanted to comment then, if only to let you know that you were being prayed for, but I felt as though I didn't know what to say. Then, in my prayers, I came across this prayer that seemed perfect. Even more so, since it came from one of the Church's greatest converts--St Augustine.

    Before I write the prayer, I do just want to say that while your travels to these churches might not have been motivated by a holy purpose, it is not a coincidence. Recognize how blessed you are that God has called you in this way, through these means. Something drew you to this endeavor, and you found something much more valuable--the pearl of great price. Recognize how valuable it is, and how blessed you are. Nothing is a coincidence with God. Still praying for you.

    Prayer of St. Augustine
    O Jesus Christ, you are my father, my merciful God, my great king, my good shepherd, my only master, my best helper, my beloved friend of overwhelming beauty, my living bread, my eternal priest. You are my guide to my heavenly home, my one true light, my holy joy, my true way, my shining wisdom, my unfeigned simplicity, the peace and harmony of my soul, my perfect safeguard, my bounteous inheritance, my everlasting salvation.

    My loving lord, Jesus Christ, why have I ever loved or desired anything else in my life but you, my God? Where was I when I was not in communion with you? From now on, I direct all my desires to be inspired by you and centered on you. I direct them to press forward for they have tarried long enough, to hasten toward their goal, to seek the one they yearn for.

    O Jesus, let him who does not love you be accursed, and filled with bitterness. O gentle Jesus, let every worthy feeling of mine show you love, take delight in you and admire you. O God of my heart and my inheritance, Christ Jesus, may my heart mellow before the influence of your spirit and may you live in me. May the flame of your love burn in my soul. May it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart. May it glow in my innermost being. May it spread it's heat into the hidden recesses of my soul and on the day of my consummation, may I appear before you consumed in your love. Amen.

  2. Thanks for visiting our home, St. Gregory the Great, San Gregory el Magno, Saint Gregoire -- and do come again, you are most welcomed. Greet our celebrant after the Mass and should you attend the Spanish Mass, we serve coffee and cake. By the way, next Sunday, Sept 21st @ 11:00 AM we are celebrating the feast of our Patron (it is Sept 3 but we want the school children to participate) and the three choirs will join their voices in praise to the Lord. Do come, you will be uplifted.

  3. Thanks for the pictures of my old home school/church! God be with you in all your searching!

  4. Does anyone have a list of the saints that are depicted behind the altar????


    The male saints to the left of the sanctuary are, from the center to the left, as follows:

    1. St. Joseph, revered foster father of Jesus and husband of the Virgin Mary; also patron of
    carpenters and working people.
    2. St. Paul, apostle of the Gentiles, author of epistles, leading early evangelist and theologian.
    3. St. Peter, chief of the apostles, a Galilean fisherman called by Jesus to be the rock or foundation of His church.
    4. St. John the Evangelist, or "The Divine" (the theologian), author of the fourth gospel.
    5. St. Stephen, the first Christian to suffer martyrdom.
    6. St. Gregory the Great (540-604), pope, doctor of the church, and patron of our parish.
    7. St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland and of the archdiocese of New York.
    8.St. Louis (1214-1270), King of France, crusader and a patron saint of France.
    9.Holy Roman Emperor, Henry II (972-1024), St. Henry of Bavaria and one of the most popular German saints.
    10. St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), Archbishop of Milan, a reforming cardinal who urged the calling of the Council of Trent.
    11.St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Bishop of Geneva and co-founder of Order of Visitation.
    12. St. Vincent de Paul (1580-1660), a friend of St. Francis de Sales and founder of the
    Congregation of the Missions (also known as the Vincentians).
    13.St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuit order, which spread its influence in higher education and diplomacy worldwide.
    14.St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), espoused poverty and revered all living creatures; founder of the Order of Friars Minor, or Franciscans.
    15.St. Dominic (1170-1221), founder of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans, which spread learning and spiritual values to the lay illiterate of that time.
    16.St. John Baptist Vianney (1786-1859), parish priest and confessor all his life in the village of Ars, France, canonized as the patron of parish priests.

    The female saints to the right of the sanctuary are, from center to right, as follows:

    1. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, portrayed here under the title of the Sacred Heart of Mary.
    2. St. Elizabeth, cousin of Mary and mother of John the Baptist.
    3. St. Mary Magdalene, a reformed sinner passionate in her repentance and among those who discovered the risen Christ.
    4. St. Agnes, executed in 304 A. D. at the age of 13 as a persecuted Christian.
    5. St. Brigid of Ireland (born c. 450, died 523), founded and led the first religious community for women in Ireland and is best known female saint of that country.
    6. St. Cecilia, Roman virgin and martyr, traditionally the patron of music and musicians.
    7. St. Catherine of Alexandria, Egypt, virgin and martyr to whom a Greek monastery on Mt. Sinai was dedicated.
    8. St. Sylvia (sixth century), mother of St. Gregory the Great.
    9. St. Helena (fourth century), mother of Constantine, who was first Christian Emperor.
    10. St. Elizabeth (1207-1231), Queen of Hungary, known for her works of charity.
    11. St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), led the armies of France to victory over the English, declared patroness of France.
    12. Blessed Kateri (Katherine) Tekawitha (1656-1679), "The Lily of the Mohawk," a native American descendant of Algonquin and Mohawk nations.
    13. St. Therese of the Child Jesus (1873-1897), "The Little Flower" who lived as a cloistered Carmelite nun and wrote the autobiography, "The Story of a Soul."
    14. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903), Italian lay woman and virgin whose many extraordinary
    religious experiences included stigmata on her hands and feet for 18 months.
    15. St. Bernadette of Lourdes (1844-1879), to whom the Blessed Virgin appeared at Lourdes, which draws pilgrims from all over the world seeking cures.
    16. St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641), co-founder of the Order of Visitation.

  6. Thanks, Anonymous, for the information about the saints found on the mural.

  7. Thanks for the list of saints. I am writing a short literary piece and needed to verify my memory - It was correct, there was a Native American saint! Thanks again, seeing the mural after so many years brought back many memories of being a student at St. Gregory in the 1960s.

  8. Many thanks for this blog and the pictures and information. I have many, many fond memories of attending this school from 1954-1962, and serving as an altar boy there. i remember many of the priests then: Fr. Browne' Farelly; Manning; Murnion, Marceau; especially Fr. Doherty. He was the organizer and trainer of the altar boys then.
    also the teachers and nuns: miss Conlon; sisters Hugh, assumpta, regina, Miss Vee...

    i have old photos but not sure how to post them here.. Best. John Colligan

  9. john - feel free to email me pictures and I will post them. To email me, just go to comments/contact and look for email link. Thanks.