Monday, August 24, 2015

97. St. Brigid-St. Emeric

(mass times & church info last updated 03/08/2016) 
Address: 119 Avenue B (@ E. 8th St.)
Phone: (646) 476-5617
Weekend Mass Times:
Sat: 6pm (English)
Sun: 10am (English), 11:30am (Spanish)
Weekday Mass Times:
Mon, Wed, Thu: 9am (English)
Tue: 7pm (Spanish)
Fri: 9am (English), 6pm (Spanish)
Constructed: 1839
Renovated: 2013
Official Website
My original post about St. Emeric's Church
About the Organ
St. Brigid
Articles on the renovation: 
Donor Gives $20 Million (NY Times)The New York Landmarks Conservancy
Greenwich Village Preservation Society
The Villager

With this very last Catholic church of Manhattan, I now pronounce this blog officially complete!

Because of the numerical order of this post's title, it may seem the subtitle of this blog is now somewhat obsolete. I considered changing it from 96 churches to 97, but have decided against that. In truth, this blog was a bunch of stories about a young man's turmoil in discovering 96 houses of God. However, this 97th finds me (certainly!) no longer a turmoiled man and (even more certainly!) no longer a "young" man. My life has moved on since I began this journey.

The parish of St. Brigid's has been on a journey too. 

Here's what is looked like with scaffolding covering the church just a few years ago...

And here's what it looks like now...

According to the links above, the simplest story goes that the church of St. Brigid's was old, dilapidated and falling apart a few years back and was in danger of being closed, torn down and sold until a mysterious donor stepped up offering twenty million dollars to save it. That's when the renovations began. And since that process started, the Archdiocese of New York went ahead and closed the nearby parish of St. Emeric's, merging it with St. Brigid's in the new, renovated, pristine church building, to become the new parish of St. Brigid-St. Emeric.

All these new photos come from when I visited the church this past April during Holy Week (hence the covered up statues). I went to the Wednesday morning daily Mass (daily Mass always being my favorite and preferred over the pageantry of Sundays). The church was nice, peaceful, and quiet. Although it is a little far east for my liking, it's a good place to stop by when you're in the neighborhood of the East Village / Lower East Side.

Since taking these photos I have departed the awesome and awful metropolis of New York City, to begin a new life with my wife in a land both cleaner and greener. The sun shines bright here during the summertime and the air generally just smells better. Life is good, the way it should be.

Much like this parish, I am renewed and regenerated. Writing one last time in this blog gives me the opportunity to look back on my journey with incredible thoughts of gratitude. I am very thankful that I was able to take such a pilgrimage as this in such an incredible city as is New York. And I'm very happy I was able to do so when 96 parishes still existed, because as you probably are aware, many of those I visited are now closed or in danger of closing, or at least merging very soon.

But we can all look at St. Brigid's as an example of darkness turning light. Yes, it can be argued that this parish got very, very lucky because of the kindness and generosity of a very rich person. However, it's still a tale of a parish and its people overcoming the odds of an unforgiving city and reality closing in and being reborn as something new.

I, myself, am now new again thanks to many people and many things. Not least because of many of my experiences, wandering around this city, exploring these sacred spaces and places, and yearning, looking and praying for a better (no, that's not the right word), a different state of being that what was my status quo.

If your own parish is one of those unfortunates that the Cardinal has closed down, I am so, so sorry. You have probably lost a bit of your identity and history and being. But I urge you not to let your mind and soul linger in some darkened old building now locked to you, but to walk a few blocks north, west, south or east and find a new church to call your own. And if you don't like the priest or the people there for whatever reasons (and trust me, I have been to so many churches, I know there's a lot of bad ones out there), you should feel free to walk outside and head to another one. Because the city is filled with churches and choices. Or do me one better. If you get to a new church and don't like it, or someone there, or the music or the smell, do something about it. Change it. Make it better. Make it more accepting. Teach it love and forgiveness. As you know, much of the institution that claims a monopoly on those two teachings has forgotten all about them. Invest yourself in it and help transform it into what it should be.

Much love to you, reader, and anyone out there that has graced these ramblings or entered any of these holy places in yearning or torment. Please take care of them for me. I do miss them now and then.