Saturday, April 17, 2010

*The Church Sex Abuse Scandal

Looks like has done it again with a great video piece interviewing young Catholics (roughly my age) from Ascension Church about their thoughts and feelings on the scandal. You can view the article page here, below is the embedded video:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trouble at St. Joseph School (Chinatown)

I've just learned there are some major things happening at St. Joseph school in Chinatown regarding the dismissal of Sr. Deborah Lopez as principal. Admittedly, I do not really know or understand the entire story but if you know these parishes or want to learn more, check out the comments and additional entry here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

*Happy Easter

As a kind of closeout to this blog, I decided to make this little video montage using all the great images I've seen over the past 2 1/2 years. Happy Easter. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


It's done.

I breathe a sigh of relief and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for allowing me to selfishly spend two to three years on such an amazing task. For giving me the idea, the time here in New York, and the resources to follow through.

I realize that, unlike the post where I mentioned visiting these churches was "my quest," that what I have indeed been doing here is some kind of crazy two and a half year pilgrimage. A quest is an adventure where you go specifically seeking something, a goal, a treasure, something you know about before setting off. What I have accomplished here is so very very short of a quest, merely wandering about the city (nearly) blindly visiting houses of worship. And I have enjoyed it. Immensely.

I hope that post about "my quest" gets lost out there on the internet (amidst all the other trash, dirt and porn,) along with a few other self-indulgent posts I am guilty of writing. I intend, in the next few weeks to organize these postings, to make it easier for the church-goer, tourist or pilgrim to locate these churches easier by location, name and neighborhood. I plan on highlighting the facts about each church, and (hopefully) downplaying my often tedious whining and musings. I may even go back and add better photographs to some of the posts of churches I visited earlier on, as I've done with St. Paul the Apostle and St. Joseph (Chinatown).

If you attend any of these churches, or are privy to info about them and find that any of my information listed about them (Mass times, websites, phone numbers, etc.) are out of date, please let me know the new, true information so I can update.

Additionally, if there are any churches or chapels in Manhattan that I have missed, please let me know and I will make every effort to visit.

I'm certainly not done posting, I'm going to tool around with some organizational formats for awhile, and of course, there is always the reopening of St. Brigid Church to look forward to (I intend to visit there and hopefully post about it, #97!) Also, because this blog has dealt mainly with only Manhattan churches, I am making plans to visit one church from each of the other boroughs sometime soon.

So, my posting is not yet fully complete, but it is close, and eventually will wind down to a slow (if not altogether immobile) crawl.

Thank you for reading this, these posts, my shenanigans.

God bless you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

96. St. James (CLOSED)

NOTE: It seems as though this church was closed and shuttered in 2014 and merged with the nearby church of St. Joseph (Chinatown) much to the sadness and dismay of its parishioners. Then, in 2015, as part of the Archdiocese of New York's great closings & mergers of that year, this combined parish was closed down and merged into the Church of the Transfiguration.  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.

(church info last updated 04/07/2016)
Address: 32 James St. (Rectory at 23 Oliver St.)
Phone: 212.233.0161
Constructed: 1835-1837
About the Organ
Sacrilege at St. James in NYC
St. James
St. Joseph (Sister Church)


"In 1835, Father Varela purchased property for a new church on James Street, and the name was changed to St. James Church. Built from 1835-37 and dedicated by Bishop Dubois in 1836, St. James Church has the distinction of having the second oldest Roman Catholic church building extant in Manhattan. No one is certain who designed the noble Greek Revival edifice, although its pedimented facade is similar to designs published by architect Minard Lafever. As originally built, the fieldstone building had a domed cupola above the roof, and the facade included the inscription "D.O.M. S. JACOBO DEO OPTIMO MAXIMO" (To God, the Best and Greatest). In 1966, the church was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Since its founding, the church has been home to many notables, including Alfred E. Smith, who served as an altar boy before becoming Governor of New York State and the first Roman Catholic candidate for the presidency. In the 1880s, Smith described the church as the "leading Catholic parish in New York, not excepting the cathedral itself."

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish fraternal organization, is also associated with St. James Church, as their first chapter in the United States was established in 1836 at this church. The Hibernians organized in response to the burning of St. Mary's Church on Grand Street, and other acts of violence against Irish clergy and property. In 1983, the Hibernians financed the restoration of St. James Church after city officials ordered it closed when the roof was in danger of collapsing."
I was told a few weeks ago by Tali, the organist of St. James, that I should make sure to include this church on my journey. Of course, it was always on my list, but she intrigued me further by saying, St. James is "the oldest surviving Catholic structure in the city and state of New York in original condition (Old St. Patrick's and St. Joseph on 6th Ave that had disastrous fires that gutted them, being officially older.)"

Something else that recently interests me about St. James is a pilgrimage I have followed via the website, It is the journey of the Camino, or "Way of St. James," that follows a path through Northern Spain to the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostello, where St. James the Apostle is apparently buried. Even though states "Legends have sprung up that James evangelized Spain before he died but these stories have no basis in historical fact," the Camino has captured my attention and imagination, and I think, realizing that my pilgrimage (because, that is in fact, what it is) of New York Churches is at an end, someday I'd very much like to do something like this. Perhaps the last 60 kilometers that many thousands of pilgrims travel each year, or even, if I'm feeling exceptionally ambitious, the 480 kilometers from France.

Due to a miscommunication between the staff at St. James and their parish, nearly all the parishioners of St. James attended the 10:30am Easter Sunday Spanish Mass today or the vigil at St. Joseph last night, and almost no one was present for the 12pm service.

But I was there, and almost as soon as I entered the place and started snapping pictures an older guy named George pulled me aside and asked me if I liked the place. Sure, I said, hesitating a bit. Good, he responded, then I'll show you around. Before I knew it he was leading me in and out of doorways, through the stairwells and balcony and showing me this church. It's a very old place that requires a lot of renovating and George is the one in charge of most of the work.

Slowly, day by day, bit by bit, molding by molding, George and staff are working to replace glass that is broken, repaint fading walls, fix leaks and continue to make this church more and more beautiful. Not that it's not already a site and pretty to begin with, but George showed me all the work to be done. He's very devoted and intent on his work, but most of all, he loves his church.

Everyone I talked to here at St. James was so friendly and welcoming: George, the priest, I think I even met Tali, the organist. (By the way, the music sounded great, the organ was terrific and the cantor had a strong elegant voice - really great church song that brought the Liturgy alive for me.)

Because there were so few of us in attendance, the priest delivered a more intimate sermon than (what I assume) is usual. He interjected thoughts and reflections during the readings, tied in the words of Paul with today's social justice issues and immigration, and really brought the Good News.

I'd definitely consider coming here regularly if it wasn't so far away.

Later in the day, I celebrated Easter with friends: the brightness of the day and the newness of life.

Meanwhile, things with my girlfriend are not all right. We are both hard people to be with. I think I'm terrible at this. Maybe always have been, maybe always will be. It's anyone's guess whether we'll be together in the end. Or if we should be. But she knows how much this church journey has meant to me, knows what I have been doing and she handed me a card today, an Easter card, congratulating me on completing this journey. It meant a lot, more than can be imagined. As does she.

"Why does she sing
Her sad songs for me? I'm not the one
To tenderly bring
Her soft sympathy. I've just begun
To see my way clear and it's plain if I stop I will fall.
I can lay down a tear for her pain, just a tear and that's all.
What does she want me to do?
She says that she knows that moments are rare.
I suppose
That it's true.
Then on she goes to say I don't care and she knows
That I do.
Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song.
Who do I think that I am to decide that she's wrong?

She'd like to think that I'm cruel
But she knows that's a lie for I would be
No more than a tool
If I allowed her to cry all over me.
My sorrow is real even though I can't change my plans.
If she could see how I feel then I know that she'd understand.
Does she actually think I'm to blame?
Does she really believe
That some word of mine
Could relieve
All her pain?
Can't she see that she grieves just because she's been blindly deceived
By her shame?
Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song.
Who do I think that I am to decide that she's wrong?

Nothin's what it seems.
Maybe she'll start someday to realize
If she abandons her dreams,
Then all the words she can say are only lies.
When will she see that to gain
Is only to lose?
All that she offers me are her chains,
And I've got to refuse.
It's only to herself that she's lied.
She likes to pretend
there's something that she should defend
With her pride.
I don't intend to stand here and be the friend
From whom she must hide.
Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song.
Who do I think that I am to decide that she's wrong?
Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song."
(Townes Van Zandt)

Friday, April 2, 2010

95. St. Teresa

(mass times & church info last updated 04/24/2016)
Address: 141 Henry St.
Phone: 212.233.0233
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 5pm (English)
Sun: 8am (English), 9am (Chinese-Cantonese), 10:15am (English), 11:30am (Spanish), 1:15pm (Chinese-Mandarin)
Weekday Mass Times: 
Mon-Thu: 8:30am (Spanish, in main church)
Fri: 7:30pm (Spanish, in main church)
Sat: 12pm (Spanish, in main church)
Holy Days: 8:30am (Spanish), 7:30pm (Bilingual)
Fri: 12pm-7:15pm (concluding w/ Solemn Benediction in Spanish)
Constructed: 1841
Official Website
About the Organ
St. Teresa of Avila
Rutger's Presbyterian Church (first church located at site)

HOLY WEEK: Good Friday


The church of St. Teresa in Chinatown is a neat, bright, clean and simple house of worship. It has an open airy feeling as one enters, and a nice gated area right out front that allows you to sit quietly on the church steps, praying or meditating, typing on your Blackberry, or just enjoying a beautiful day's sunshine and fresh cool breeze.

The priest, shaved head and all, was a good preacher. He delivered his sermon in a loud, attention-grabbing, boisterous manner. I could tell he is good at what he does and cares about the meaning behind his words, his church and the Church.

During the reading of the Passion, I looked up and stared at the painted mural that is the backdrop of the altar - it is a scene depicting the Crucifixion. It was wholly appropriate to fixate on this art as they sang/read the Gospel - the drama and the sadness of the story are very present in this work, as well as present in the church today.

Further up towards the ceiling I noticed the beautiful wood beams and pillars that hold this church up - renovated back in 1995 because the ceiling collapsed, dropping 60,000 pounds of plaster down, through the floor of the church, crashing into the parish hall below.

It is now a very nice looking and peaceful place. Perfect for this Good Friday service for me.

Easter is next...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

94. St. Cyril

(mass times & church info last updated 04/29/2016)
Address: 62 St. Mark's Place
Phone: 212.674.3442
Weekend Mass Times: 
Sat: 6pm (English)
Sun: 10:30am (Slovenian)
Confession: before Masses
Constructed: (est. 1916)
Sts. Cyril and Methodius and St. Raphael on W. 41st St.
St. Cyril

HOLY WEEK: Holy Thursday


"We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all."
(Isaiah 53:6)

The only information I had about St. Cyril church going in today was this one sentence from The Spiritual Traveler:
"Slovene Catholics have a small church - virtually a brownstone - St. Cyril, established in 1916..."
The entrance gate was open outside when I arrived and I ascended the steps of this "brownstone," entering the church. It was quiet and dark, no lights were turned on yet, only the light from the falling 7pm sun through the south facing windows and stained glass, and an open doorway near the altar provided any visibility at all to this small dark (nearly a) chapel. I heard voices upstairs. A few days ago I had called (an until very, very recently non-working number) and asked when Holy Week masses would be. I was told 7pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

After taking a few photos I sat down in the back, alone, Magnificat in hand, ready for the Slovenian language mass I knew was in store. Holy Thursday remains my very favorite Mass of the calendar - it's a special one, so mystical and holy.

Another man entered, heading toward the open doorway by the altar, and switched on the lights. Ten minutes later three others, his family, joined him and then a pretty girl, my age, in a leather jacket entered, sitting near the altar, followed by an older couple, followed by the priest, who saw me and shook my hand.

"Are you Slovenian?" he asked.

No, I said in a sad sort of tone, always feeling out of place in these non-English masses. Why go then, you ask? It removes me from my comfort zone and Mass is no longer some familar place I casually drop in on for an hour a week to hear the things I am expecting. This journey has, if nothing else, made going to church each week a difficult undertaking, something to be thought about proactively and planned, a task that is hard which places me in new intimidating situations constantly. It has vitalized me and strengthened my faith, turning the Mass into a living breathing and very real experience.

The priest made his way to the sacristy to prepare and a few other people trickled in until in all there were a dozen of us, as well as the priest - the teacher and his twelve, a very true last supper, but which of us was Judas, I wondered to myself. Me? All of us? No, me I supposed. I'm the outsider here. Filled with sin. There is no betrayal in my heart, however. But I do tend to fuck up so altogether largely all the time.

I followed along with the readings and order of the Mass with the Magnificat. During the homily, I sat and listened. Of course, I could not understand the language, but I was listening for something else. A quote I read online the other day (and I'm perhaps slightly misquoting it here) reads: "Praying is when we ask God for something, meditation is when we listen."

This journey of (thus far) 94 churches has been amazing in so many ways and opened me to elements of the Mass and the Catholic faith that I never knew, but I have recently noted my prayer life during Mass is not as good as it could be. I don't spend a lot of time "listening." When I go to these new places there is always so much that I am aware of, so much stimulation and input, so much I am looking for or thinking about - art on the walls, the angle of the church that will make the best photo, what to write about. As I proceed in the future and attend one place regularly I plan on listening quite a bit more.

Sadly, because I enjoy the Holy Thursday Mass so much, there was no washing of the feet here, nor was there the procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the end of Mass. Once Communion was finished, the priest did process down the small main aisle praying the stations of the cross, and then it ended. I was sad to have missed out on those parts of the Holy Thursday service I have come to love so much, as well as the singing of the Pange, lingua, and the Tantum ergo Sacramentum. But there is always next year.

Having taken all my photos beforehand, I headed out the doors before anyone had the chance to ask me why I was there.

Next, Good Friday service...