Sunday, February 28, 2010

89. Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz

(mass times & church info last updated 02/28/2010)
Address: 378 Broome St.
Phone: 212.925.2428
Weekend Mass Times: Sun: 2:15pm
Weekday Mass Times: Wed: 6:30pm (see below)
Confession: Sat: 5pm-6pm
Church Constructed: ???

Official Website
Save the Filipino Chapel in New York
"New York's Filipino Chapel to remain open, for now" (Asian Journal)
Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC: "Broome Street Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz: The Plot Thickens"
"Unveiling of the San Lorenzo Ruiz" (The Filipino Express)
Wikipedia: San Lorenzo Ruiz


This is the former Church of the Most Holy Crucifix, another closed church which is on my (aging!) complete list of the Archdiocese of New York City churches from 2007. Two weeks ago, after my discovery at Our Lady of Vilnius, and before my experience at Church of the Transfiguration, as I headed east on Broome St., I stopped by this church, looking for Holy Crucifix. It did indeed add to an increasing feeling of bleakness, traveling from one closed church to another. However, I was filled with curiosity that Holy Crucifix had been replaced with this Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz (first Filipino martyr.)

Adding even further to the curiosity, was an official letter from the Vicar General, Dennis Sullivan (he was the Bishop who presided over my confirmation two summers ago,) that was posted over Holy Crucifix's original Mass schedule.

The letter, dated December 1, 2009, stated the following:

"Dear Fathers,

On behalf of Archbishop Dolan, and in my own name as Vicar General, I write to thank each of you for your service to the Filipino community here in New York.

My meetings with you...confirmed that the Team Ministry model for the work at the San Lorenzo Chapel has not developed as we hoped. I think it is true to say that we see now that it is best to remove the obligations from and the participation of the Team Members, and to refocus the future work at the chapel under the leadership of Father Joseph Marabe. seems in hindsight that the structure we designed and the mission that was defined for you had some problems from the start. All of you had great zeal and enthusiasm for promoting the Chapel, and came up with ideas for enhancing its service. These included starting a Mass on Saturday night in Spanish, and allowing the personal devotion of a visionary to take root there. However, there are parish churches nearby for the pastoral care of Latinos and private devotions are private and do not belong in the public prayer of a chapel. The Archdiocese will not assign a priest to work at the chapel full-time. Many of our territorial parishes are blessed with Filipino parishioners whose presence enhances those parishes.

When a team ministry starts to unravel, feelings can be hurt and good people can suffer. Please be charitable to one another and all the devotees of San Lorenzo Ruiz, and let us move forward together with greater clarity about leadership and focus.

Specifically, let us start again this time of evaluation for the future of the Chapel by saying that Father Joseph Marabe, as moderator if the Filipio Apostolate on the Archdiocese, will be responsible to me for the operation of the Chapel. I expect him to be in residence there for the foreseeable future, along with a layman of his choosing, so that the property will be kept safe. Father will coordinate the Masses, etc. without intruding on neighboring parishes. He will call upon other priests to help him as needed, and seek the advice and cooperation of all those interested in the Chapel. He will report on the financial health of the operation, and the Archdiocese will continue to evaluate the pastoral mission of the Chapel..."
What in the world happened to merit that letter?! (And what ever happened to Church of the Most Holy Crucifix? Actually, this list of closed Churches in Manhattan reveals the church was closed in 2005, but that does not explain why it still made my list from the Archdiocese's site in 2007!)

It was really bizarre to be standing in front of a former parish, reading an edict from the Vicar relating to problems the new parish seems to be having. Even though this chapel was not on my original list, I am posting about my visit here today, two weeks after my initial encounter...

It's a small inside building (perfectly sized for a chapel,) and decorated with two sculptures of San Lorenzo Ruiz - one near the front entrance, and one to the left of the altar.

This was a nice little multi-lingual Mass. The first reading was in Filipino, the second reading in Spanish, and the sermon was in a mix of Filipino, Spanish, Italian and English - Fr. Joe Marabe was very good at knowing his congegration and speaking directly to them, to us.

I wish this little parish good luck, they are young (about a year) and still growing. There's a good vibe in this chapel, a peaceful mood. The music at the 2:15pm (one or two guitarists) is nice and warm, soothing and perfect. You should come here, they welcome visitors.

I think my girlfriend regrets moving here, she may even hate it. She has told me she has thought about leaving here, grabbing her stuff out of storage, taking off, rolling on out. I understand that. The freedom, the escape. About this point in relationships, I tend to feel the same thing. The urge to run. Escape away to some kind of lonesome safety. If she were to leave, it would be very different than any breakup of the past. I would find myself in some kind of total insular shock about everything that had just happened.

Over the course of the rest of my quest to these last seven churches, I realize by the end I'll have nothing more figured out than I do now, nothing determined. There will be no clean happy ending involving love. No resolution. And though I'll have journeyed and experienced the Almighty in a few more different ways, I'll still be a wanderer wandering. A wanderer wondering.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

88. St. Stanislaus (Now St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Roman Catholic Church)

(mass times & church info last updated 04/24/2016)
Address: 101 E. 7th St.
Phone: 212.475.4576
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 7pm (English), 8pm (Polish)
Sun: 8am (Polish), 9am (English), 10:30am, 12pm (both Polish)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 8am, 6pm (both Polish)
Sat: 8am (Polish)
Sat: 6pm
Sun: before each Mass
1st Fridays: 5pm
and upon request
Rosary: Sun: 11:30am
Chaplet of Divine Mercy: Mondays: 6pm
Devotion to St. John Paul II: Tuesdays: 6pm
Devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa: Wednesdays: 6pm
Other Devotions & Services: contact the church for more info
Church Constructed: 1900-1901
Official Website
Slavs of New York
Wikipedia: St. Stanislaus


Today, for Ash Wednesday services, at 12pm I attended the very Polish parish of St. Stanislaus on east 7th street. I had attended this church once before about three years ago for a Saturday vigil Mass, and now having visited it "officially" and posting about it here, the remaining eight or so churches left on my list will be all new to me, unexplored sanctuaries.

Another season of Lent begins, and I've chosen to give up boozing once again. Third year in a row. I try to explain to people why: that it is a big sacrifice to someone like me, my age, and that it really helps bring the message of Lent home to me, as well as realize the zealous celebration of Easter once it finally comes, but I'm not sure I can ever truly relate my meanings. It is better practiced than taught, experienced than discussed.

The priest today, during his sermon, said: "Lent is a time to let go of sin, and leave it behind." I pray I can do this successfully this year. Sin follows me around like a cloud. A storm I cannot escape. Doom itself.

My girlfriend asked me what the real meaning of Ash Wednesday is, and I tried to expain: the ashes symbolize that we came from dust and ash and it is to that we will return. That the ashes are the burned remains of last Easter's palms and that it is all a symbol and metaphor for death and rebirth. After further formal research, I realize what I should have told her is...
"Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one's penitence is found in Job 42:3-6. Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."...Ezekiel 9 also speaks of a linen-clad messenger marking the forehead of the city inhabitants that have sorrow over the sins of the people. All those without the mark are destroyed."

(thank you Wikipedia!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

87. Church of the Transfiguration (Now the Parish of Transfiguration and of St. James/St. Joseph)

NOTE: In 2015 the church of St. Joseph (Chinatown) (which had previously merged with St. James in 2014) closed down and was merged into the Church of the Transfiguration as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of 2015. Only Transfiguration will remain open for regular Masses and other events. This combined parish is called Parish of Transfiguration and of St. James/St. Joseph. (Strangely, when I emailed this church to ask the new name and info about masses, they gave me no answer, only referred me to the Archdiocese. So, I got this new name from the Archdiocese website.)

(mass times & church info last updated 04/07/2016)
Address: 29 Mott St.
Phone: 212.962.5157
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 6pm (English)
Sun 9am (Mandarin), 10:15am (Cantonese), 11:30am (English), 1pm (Mandarin)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Fri: 8am (Cantonese), 12:10pm (English)
Holy Day Mass Times: 
8am (Cantonese), 12:10pm (English)
Confession: Sun: 15 minutes before Mass
Church Constructed: 1810

Official Website
Wikipedia entry
Explore Chinatown
Catholic Encyclopedia: Transfiguration


Providence today, and lately in so many ways. After my discovery at Our Lady of Vilnius, and needing to attend Mass for the week, I made my way across Broome St. and then headed south on Mott. My knowledge of this area of the island is limited and so as the shops and signs of SoHo and Little Italy gave way to Chinese storefronts and characters, I realized the Mass I'd end up attending today would be in Chinatown.

There was excitement and activity on the street, everywhere I turned it seemed people were setting things up - though I wasn't sure why. As I looked over the ground, the road I was walking on, seeing confetti remnants and bits of debris everywhere, I wondered to myself if it was by chance the Chinese New Year. Of course, it was.

The Mass I ended up attending was in Cantonese, and I followed along as I typically do during the non English services - a lot of quiet meditation and prayer, following along with the order of the Mass. This is again a church with such a strong, vital community. I could really see how much these parishioners care for one another.

During Communion, I witnessed another form of intinction I was again unfamiliar with. The parishioners would receive the Host, hold it in hand, walk to the Eucharistic Minister holding the chalice, and dip the bread into the wine.

Halfway during the Mass, a great ruckus sounded from outside - drumming began, a fast rhythm, and steady. After Mass, we exited, and found ourselves walking right into the middle of a great Chinese New Year parade: crowd, fireworks, confetti, dragons.

It was strange being in Chinatown during this celebration - this festival of new life. Providence did indeed lead me here on this day to witness this culture celebrating this event. It's this sort of thing that invigorates me to live in this city - to wander upon such a big event and experience it in the middle of my day. It was cool. Coincidentally, my girlfriend and I visited the Met's Chinese wing on Saturday, hidden away on the third floor, taking in the ancient art and symbols, so it was great to experience the culture first hand today that is tied into those works from centuries ago.

It is still an ongoing and very rough adjustment and transition for my girlfriend. Today she whispered that maybe she should not have come. This is a difficult time and I wonder how we will make it through it. I want to share everything with her, including letting her in on this blog (something I have not voluntarily shared with anyone I know.) I believe I am doing everything I can for her during this period, but I am not sure if it is enough or what will end up happening.

86. Our Lady of Vilnius (CLOSED)

(church info last updated 03/31/2016)
Address: 568-570 Broome St. (@ Varick)
Church Constructed: 1905
Church Closed: February 26, 2007
Wikipedia: Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

Alone in a seemingly abandoned city this morning, I trekked out early in the cold, snow still sticking to various areas of streets and sidewalks. I was headed towards two churches I wasn't sure existed any longer, and Our Lady Of Vilnius was one of them. Arriving at 32 Dominick street (the former site of the OLV rectory) I found the doors shut, the area lifeless, the building abandoned.

I needed further proof. Heading around the corner (and over the Holland Tunnel) to locate more of a church, I saw the steeples and was relieved to have found something.

There it was. A lonely church building. Desolate in the cold. A police officer stood watch by his patrol car near the entrance of the Tunnel as I walked up to the dead doors of Our Lady of Vilnius, and I felt watched, suspicious.

I tried the old wooden doors. No go. The old cracked red paint should have been enough of a giveaway, but I continued. All three double doors were locked, shutting out the city and any parishioners from entrance.

As far as I could tell, this was a closed church. Closed by the diocese because of money - its sanctuary and mystery lost to us forever. I feel the need to post about it here, because it was one of the original churches on my list of 96. Had I visited it sooner, perhaps back at the latter part of 2007, I would have found it still open, fighting against its own closure. Now, it is dead to us, its light shut off, a beacon no more. Gone.

Following are a few links relating the news about the closing (should have read these a little closer before my visit:)
Information About the Closing
Save Our Lady of Vilnius NYC Online Petition
"Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC" Blog (a blog about OLV and other church closings)
Jeremiah's Vanishing New York
New York Times
The Villager
The New York Observer - "Cardinal Egan Paints Himself an Unhappy Ending"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

85. Our Lady of Sorrows

(mass times & church info last updated 03/25/2016)
Address: 213 Stanton St. (@ Pitt St.)
Phone: 212.673.0900
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 6:30pm (Spanish)
Sun: 8:30am (English), 10am (Spanish), 11:30am (English), 1pm (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon, Wed, Fri: 9am (English)
Tue, Thu: 6:30pm (Spanish)
Confession: Sat: 5pm-6pm
Church Constructed: 1868
Official Website
About the Organ
Our Lady of Sorrows

'Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
living among a people of unclean lips;
yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it, and said,
“See, now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!” '
(Is 6:1-2a, 3-8)
How was it, the burning ember, cleansing body and soul, purging sin? To taste the sun. To live again. Absolution. Rebirth. Salvation.

Our Lady of Sorrows is a welcoming parish. I discovered this as I wandered into the 11:30am Mass today.

The light level in the church is bright and that brightness feels good as one enters and sits amidst a very nice group of people. The design of the church is spacious, inviting.

"The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows was established in 1867 by the Capuchins. Located on Pitt Street in the area once known as Kleindeutschland (Little Germany), the church served as a national parish for the many thousands of German families who arrived in New York in great numbers after 1848. The church was built from 1867-68 to designs by Henry Engelbert—who combined Victorian, Byzantine and Romanesque styles—and was dedicated by Archbishop McCLoskey on September 6, 1868. By the early 1910s, the Germans had moved uptown and in their place were throngs of newly-arrived Italian immigrants. Still later, the Italians moved out and the area demographic became largely Hispanic. By 2000, masses were offered in Spanish and English, and the church is also known as Nuestra SeƱora de los Dolores." (from,
Unfortunately much of the art on the walls, ceiling and on the altar are in serious need of renovation as they have, over the years, lost their color and contrast. They are now dark images where a visitor can barely make out the iconography behind them, the stories of faith, forgiveness, new life.

I, in my own way, am about to begin a very new life for myself. I have decided to leave my current job, that has lately caused me such grief and aggravation. I will soon begin working in a field I desire to be in more and feel I am much better suited toward. Prayers have been answered, God has granted me many gifts. This new position is such a blessing, a gift dropped into my lap. I am grateful.

My girlfriend has moved here - another gift. She is here now in this beautiful and terrible city, this monstrous metropolis, awesome Gotham. I want her so much to enjoy this city, to see it for all its beauty as I often have. I know her transition here will be difficult, and the adjustment to a new life in New York will be tough. I pray for her that her life here is good, and for me that I can be good to her and be all the things she needs me to be.

I just want to be one of the good ones. But I fall. And sin. Again and again.

After church this week the celebrating priest, Fr. Michael, greeted me and shook my hand. Before I had much of a chance to think about it, I asked him if there was any confession offered at the time. He graciously offered to hear my confession right then and there. It has probably been over a year since the last time I went to confession, and with all these new things happening in my life, I really wanted and needed absolution, a clean slate, a fresh start.

A cynical person might say that an organized religion such as the Catholic church has cornered the market on sin, offering forgiveness and salvation to those who willingly come and ask for it, and taking in the process their loyalty, numbers, and money. That these followers are looking for a salve against a very human and natural and common trait - sin. That sin is something we are destined (and predestined) to do because it is in our genetic makeup, our biology, our weak will - and that the church takes advantage of these very normal traits to gain followers.

But I am not cynical, I am a sinner.