BROOKLYN, New York — Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn June 29 described a new church and its related diocesan arts center as an opportunity for evangelization.
The bishop dedicated the new Sts. Peter & Paul Church and consecrated the church’s altar with the sacramental oil and burning incense during Mass on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. After the liturgy, he blessed the arts center, known as The Emmaus Center.
DiMarzio chose the feast of the church’s patron saints for the Mass of dedication.
During his homily, the bishop hailed the opening of the 550-seat church and the “unique” arts center in Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
“This new church, this new center, this new building, this new evangelization is something that gives us inspiration,” he said, noting that the dedication of new church buildings is uncommon.
“It is a long time in coming, but I pray that together today we take heart. We become new disciples of the new evangelization effort. We reach out to others who need us. Those who are already Catholics, those other Christians, those who know not the faith and need to encounter Jesus Christ,” the bishop said.
The old Sts. Peter & Paul Church was destroyed by fire about 15 years ago. Parishioners had been worshipping in the parish’s other church, Epiphany. Icons and statues from the destroyed church have been relocated in the new church building.
The last new church to open in the diocese occurred in 2008, according to a diocesan spokesman.
The Emmaus Center includes a renovated 600-seat theater that is housed in the historic Williamsburg Opera House, which was built in 1897.
Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, diocesan vicar for canonical affairs and former administrator of the parish, initiated the project. He called the church opening an important event for the diocese.
“With the inauguration of this new church and center, this parish, which has existed since before the Civil War, will begin a new chapter of outreach and evangelization to the people of Williamsburg, as well as to the people of Brooklyn and Queens,” Hernandez said in a statement released by the diocese.
Father Jason Espinal, parish administrator, said it was “an honor and a privilege to, in a sense take, on the baton and keep going” as the parish begins a new chapter in its history.