As Matthew 16:18 says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” An interpretation of Jesus’s renaming of Simon to Peter is that the name Peter translates to rock and Peter became the first pope — so the first rock that built the first Christian church was a person not actual stone. This interpretation’s moral is that the essence of a church is found in its followers.
During the time Saints Peter and Paul’s Roman Catholic Church was being rebuilt its church community was alive and well and worshiped at Epiphany R.C. Church on South 9th Street. On June 29th Saints Peter and Paul’s members happily filled the pews of their pristine spiritual home at its dedication. This consecration was performed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, and parishioners were welcomed to witness this rare ritual. The last time a church was dedicated in Brooklyn was thirteen years ago.
The historic McCaddin Memorial Hall (built around 1887) was renovated to become the new 550-seat church, which now also contains a 600-seat arts center. Bishop DiMarzio consecrated the altar by applying chrism and burning incense. He blessed the entrance to the arts center with holy water and said, “That we may use this center to come to know the presence of Christ and experience the joy of his friendship and grow in his love.”
The idea for the renovation began several years ago, when Monsignor Anthony Hernandez served as the parish administrator and constructed a plan to turn the old McCaddin Hall into a church and arts center. He said at the time, “It is going to anchor Saints Peter and Paul in a community that is vibrantly changing but a community it has been a part of since the 1840s.”
“I have been a parishioner of Saints Peter and Paul Parish (SPP) for the past two decades. We have been patiently waiting for this day! It has been five years since we went over to our sister parish, Epiphany, for all our services and sacraments while SPP was under renovations and construction,” said Karina Taveras. “I am elated to see the final results of our new church and arts center. Our children will have their own space to learn catechism and we will have a home to worship and build community!”
Just last year, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio appointed Father Jason Espinal the new administrator of Saints Peter and Paul/Epiphany Parish on June 30, 2020 — nearly a year to the day the new church was dedicated. Fr. Espinal is a native of Williamsburg and grew up as a member of this neighborhood’s Transfiguration Church and attended the parish school. At the dedication Fr. Espinal said, “For me it’s an honor and a privilege to take on the baton and keep going.”
Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church is located at 288 Berry Street, for more information: https://peterandpaul-brooklyn.org/