Sunday, September 20, 2009

73. St. Columba

(mass times & church info last updated 08/06/2013)
Address: 343 W. 25th St. (@ 8th Ave.)
Phone: 212.807.8876
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 5pm (English)
Sun: 9am (English), 10:30pm (Spanish), 12pm (English)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon-Fri: 12:10pm (in the chapel)
Friday: 7pm (Spanish)
Mass in honor of Divine Child:
3rd Sunday of every month, 2pm (Spanish)
Spanish: Sundays 10am
English: Sundays after the 12pm Mass
Confession: Call for appointment
Constructed: 1845
About the Organ
St. Columba

Teetering on the brink of sin and destruction, nearly on a daily basis - don't we all? Why do I do any of it? Waking this morning, with all the tastes of last night's shenanigans stale and drying in my mouth, and the memories of yesterday's activities: a day drinking binge lasting nearly six hours, an impromptu picnic with the decaying light of the sun sinking away from us, more bars and even a burlesque way the fuck out in Red Hook, and then indecision setting in, ending with a cab ride back home (best $40 I've ever spent,) there is but one thought occupying my mind this morning: I have got to get myself to church.

It has been hard for me keeping up regular visits to new churches these days, and I'm not going as much as I'd like. Traveling, friends visiting, work and life have tended to keep me away. And sometimes, on a Sunday evening, if I've not attended, I become so glum. But today, I am heading out.

Everything is going to plan then, until the subway system throws me a few curves and for more than a few loops. My faith is strong, yet I reserve none for the New York City transit system.

Due to this, I, of course, arrived late to Mass, entering during the Homily. Funny enough, the priest's voice reminded me of the priest in The Princess Bride, which was completely bizarre, but I soon realized he was brilliant-a very smart man and really good priest. The topic at the moment, was love, and, more specifically, fear to love because of past experience and pain. His point was to overcome this through faith. And in this trust to open one's self to love and to being loved. After I arrived, he also said something along the lines of, "We here in Manhattan tend to sometimes drink too much, and smoke too much, and attend these services not fully in complete mind, body or spirit." - something along those lines, anyway. Why do I feel they are always speaking so directly to me?!!!

This church is smaller and older than some of the others I've visited lately. Probably a little poorer as well. It seems it could use a few renovations - something I didn't help with particularly, when coming time for the collection, I revealed to myself a wallet full of receipts and nothing else - last night the cause and to blame yet again. This church though has faith. The priest loves his parishioners, and they him. There is something good in his words, and in the petitions, as when the reader fumbles around the altar looking for them, the lost list of petitions, the priest begins a series of heartfelt and true requests, and we all answer honestly, Lord hear our prayer.

And then after church, escape. From the city, from the world for awhile. My friends come and whisk me away to Storm King - that wonderful rendezvous with sculpture, about an hour out of the city. It is a beautiful marvelous place, combining two of my favorite things: nature and art - and therefore inherently God and peace. Storm King Art Center is a wonderful place, and the perfect day trip if you live in NYC. It's 500 acres of trees and hills and landscape, sprinkled with hundreds of colossal sculptures. My friend from L.A. told me, when visiting me here in the city a few weeks ago, that she noticed I seek refuge from the city and the world in churches and in the parks. Of course, that is very true. Both places give me peace. And in both I find solace in God's works. Strolling around Storm King today, I found a similar peace.

By the end of the visit, I lay on a bench near the Storm King Wall, staring up through the trees, seeing an airplane way way up in the heavens (modern practical moving sculpture,) at peace in the sculpture garden and with the day, and so very glad I had made it to church this morning. There is peace down here on earth to be found by each individual, if for moments at a time anyway.

More in October.

For now, some images of the sculpture garden:


  1. Thanks for this and all your posts. I have always wanted to go to Storm King. Have you tried Kykuit? Take the garden tour. House tour is nice too.

  2. I stumbled across your site today looking for the church I see every morning and evening on West 41st: Sts. Cyril and Methodius and St. Raphael's. Thanks for that. It was nice to know, read, hear that I am not the only one who is fascinated with churches and what they bring to the masses. A place of refuge, peace, hope, joy--the place to recharge in such a world in which we live today. Thank you for bringing it all together.

    I'm surprised you don't have a picture or bio that we readers could connect the face behind the pen. Perhaps your readers would have an opportunity to converse with you during a chance encounter after mass. If you ever feel up for it, might I suggest St. Catherine's of Alexandria on Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. It's a church I went to when we visited my Nonnie, and my grandparent's thereafter, growing up. It still stands alive and tall when I last visited a couple years ago. Beautiful. So beautiful.

  3. This is a very cool blog!

    Thanks much!

  4. As always, thanks for this post! I appreciate the tour. God bless you

  5. Thank you for posting the pictures of St. Columba Church in Manhattan. My parents were married, I was baptized, had my first holy communion, confirmation and baptized my children, all at St. Columba. I attended St. Columba School (sadly now closed) and so did my children. I don't live in Chelsea any more but I do have many, many fond memories of my childhood spent there. Thank you again and God bless.

  6. my grandfather we baptised there in 1890. it is on my list to travel to. thanks for the post and photos

  7. @Christine are you Irish? My grandfather was baptised there also in 1899. I thought the area was predominately Irish at the time.

    Awesome Blog by the way!!

  8. Can anyone help with history of St. Bernard's and the neighborhood? My grandmother was Irish and baptized there in late 1889 or early 1890. I thought at that time most Irish were still living south near 5 Points and the Bowery. Were the people in Chelsea more affluent? Do you know of any good resources for info specifically on this church and timeframe? Thanks in advance to any help.

    1. Just in case you are still looking for some info, check out page 205 of the book at I came across the book doind some research for St. Columba Church's website.

  9. Thank you so much for the pictures of this church. My great grandparents were married here in 1919 its nice to see it!

  10. Your stories are deeply moving. You speak of unspecified debaucheries that remind each one of us of the guy in the mirror, but with a heart that strives for the wings to soar above and beyond the broken human condition. Your writing seems to effortlessly unite these general longings and disappointments of humanity with a specific moment in a church, a sentence in a homily, a beam of light through colored glass.

    My Great-Great Grandfather lived in that parish, took his second wife at that altar after burying the thirty-one-year-old bride of his first marriage, and if the old top-hatted longshoreman had ever staggered into Mass sober and on time, the clouds would have parted to reveal the weeping of angels.

    You're a real pro, My Brother. Keep up the writing.

  11. does anyone know if there will be an Easter Eve service on the night of Saturday 7th April? And at what time?

  12. St. Columba Trivia Jackie Gleason married for the first time at St. Columba. During the 1970's Father Dispenza was Chaplain for the New York Yankees for a time and brought MVP Bucky Dent to the school. Us Altar boys used to get amazing seats for games every once in a while. One last thing the TV show Kojak filmed an episode there. WHO LOVES YA BABY

    1. Thank you so much for posting this trivia. I'm the webmaster for the soon to go live website for St. Columba Church. I cam across your posting in my research and have used it to locate specifics on those tidbits for the website.

    2. Andrew! What a great blog! In case you might be interested in reading about NYC churches see the book at which was published in 1878. I'm the webmaster of the soon to go live for St. Columba Church. May I use the photo showing the altar on the SC website? It was taken before the beautiful paiting now gracing the church. I'll naturally give you credit for it.