The Churches of My Brooklyn Childhood

If you were Catholic in the 1950s
you identified yourself by neighborhood but also by Parish.
Brooklyn was a "Diocese of Immigrants"
As I observed during my 2011 & 2012 visits, it still is.
St Thomas Aquinas Church (4th Ave & 9th St)
The School is now leased to the NYC Public Schools
Interior of St Thomas' is still as I remember.
One of the 4 Sunday Masses is now in Spanish.
Holy Family Church (13th St above 4th Ave)
Still 1 Mass offered here on Sundays
This is the street I crossed ALONE on the way to school at age 6.
Alternate side of the street parking solution: double park!

At left is our house on 11th St. Our apt was on the 2nd floor.
The current owners moved here from Oklahoma.

Chriansens & SanFilippos lived in the 2 houses next door.

Our Lady of Czestochowa/St Casimir Church (25th St below 4th Ave)
I remember this as the "Polish" Church
as evident from the Stations of the Cross.
Masses are still offered in Polish today.
Area restaurants cater to residents from Eastern Europe

The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
(60th St and 5th Ave)
This huge complex once had both an elementary and high school.
The HS is now closed.

With both upper and lower churches, you could find a Mass at just about any hour on a Sunday. The upper church was locked when I visited.

Currently Masses are offered in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese

Regina Pacis (12th Ave & 65th St)
The Interior reminds me of the churches I visited in Rome.
I remember Italian being spoken here. Now the parish has merged with St Rosalia so you can still attend Mass in Italian, but also Chinese and Spanish as well as English.

St Ephrem's Church (75th St and Fort Hamilton Pkwy)
The Interior is as I remember

I loved to sing but the choir was limited to boys only
So the only time I got to be in this choir loft was in 58-59 when 7th grade classes were taught the music of the Requium Mass by Sr Saint Jane.
We were supposed to sing on All Souls Day and we did.
However, that year Pope Pius XII died as did our Bishop and at least one other important person, so we were called on to do it three more times.

Thank you to Fr. John Burns who in 1959 began a girls' "Glee Club."
At least we had an alternative.

Regularly we walked to the Shopping Area at 86th St & 5th Ave
It's still a retail area. The "triangle" where 2 avenues met is now a nice little park. The Verrazano Bridge was a welcome addition for transportation, but the "approach" destroyed many homes
and cut the neighborhood in half.

There were other Brooklyn parishes of my childrood - St Xavier, Our Lady of Angels, St Anselm, where we would go for special functions or activities. At that time in my life it seemed like my whole world was Catholic.

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