St. Francis of Paola Celebrates Centennial

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol honors St. Francis of Paola Church with a proclamation at its centennial celebration. (l to r) Father Thomas Vassalotti (Pastor of Divine Mercy Parish), Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Annette Marino D’Arienzo (co-chair of the celebration), and Angela Scotti (co-chair of the celebration)

As the bulk of the NYC Marathon started running through North Brooklyn, St. Francis of Paola began a celebration of its endurance. Its 100th birthday party was launched with a mass led by Aux. Bishop James Massa with Pastor Thomas Vassalotti and other holy fathers of the parish. Bishop Massa told of the local Italian immigrants need for a second Catholic church in the community in the early part of the last century. This was how St. Francis of Paola came to be, on land that was the previous home to a Dutch Reformist church, a continuity of sacred ground.

A drawing of St. Francis’s first chapel

The story of a church is built with more than bricks and mortar. It’s built with the people it serves, the families who bring their children each Sunday, the couples who meet and marry and have their own families, etc. As the neighborhood grows and changes so does a church. St. Francis now has a congregation of various cultures and still has a strong Italian American base.  The victory garden that was started in WWII, has evolved into a contemplative design populated with its roses rooted in the past and with new rooted biblical allusions.

The feast that followed the service embodied the sense of community this church was built for. As Pastor Thomas Vassalotti, aka Father Tom said, “If I had to name one characteristic of this community that stands out, it would be the warm inviting feeling people universally describe when they enter the church. People feel St. Francis of Paola is their home!”

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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