The grotto on the corner of Woodpoint Road and Conselyea Street has been there for almost a century. A story goes that Vito Abate (the father of Vincent Abate, former board chair of Brooklyn Community Board 1) built the grotto in the 1930s in memory of his daughter Anna.
The reason for the renovation is because it needed repair, and this was an opportunity to rethink the layout of the space and its design. The statue of Mary is no longer behind bars.
“My guiding principle for much of the restoration work that I have undertaken in my last ten years here as pastor is to preserve the form and intent–but make it more functional. Also the grotto was a place of much dysfunction with drug use and other things going on. We’d frequently pick up the needles etc. So, a redesign creates an opportunity that more people will actually use the space. It is more user friendly,” said Divine Mercy’s pastor, Father Thomas Vassalotti.
The work is being done by Victoria Contracting, who are based in Greenpoint Brooklyn. The parish had hired them to do the pointing and the roof work on St. Nicholas Church and saw they did very good work.
Father Tom added, “Also we will celebrate the history of the community. Later this week a bell that is 100-years old from the original St. Francis of Paola Church built in 1922 will be cleaned, refurbished, and mounted for all to see. [The] bell has inscriptions on it which relate to the religious history and devotions present in St. Francis at the time of its founding. I am working on a jazz under the stars concert later in June. and we can have Monday morning Eucharistic Adoration in the space as well–weather permitting.”