Beginning on January 31, 2016, the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Cranberry Street will become part of the Brooklyn Oratory of Saint Philip Neri and the parish of St. Boniface, it was announced at masses at both churches last weekend.
Since the departure of Father James King from Assumption, the church has been administered by Father Edward Doran of St. Charles Borromeo on Sidney Place. He will step back from that position once the new arrangement goes into effect next month.
“The Oratory has five priests and one brother,” said Doran Monday morning. “They will take over the church and provide the services at Assumption.”
He was quick to assure current Assumption parishioners that regular services at their church will continue and that Assumption parish will not be dissolved.
“It can’t be,” he said. “It’s a corporation, and it would require the board of directors, the pastor, and the Brooklyn Diocese to make that decision, and there’s no interest in that.”
In addition, the “111 building” that is part of the Oratory in downtown Brooklyn will be demolished to make room for a 20-30 story building to house students at local Catholic colleges and to create a Catholic Neumann Center that will serve as a research and information facility.
More details will be provided at a meeting next month between Assumption’s trustees, parish council, and finance committee and the fathers and brothers of the Oratory.
Unlike Assumption, which is part of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, the Oratory is independent and autonomous. The Oratorians are priests and lay brothers “living a common life without vows,” and, unlike clergy at Diocesan churches, may not be moved from parish to parish.
No one at St. Boniface was available for further comment, and a call to Assumption was referred to Father Doran.
The full text of the statement read at the 6pm Sunday mass at St. Boniface:
“In July, the Fathers and Brother of the Oratory shared with the larger parish community the fact that we had been engaged in discussions with the Diocese of Brooklyn about the possibility of coming to a firm and long-term canonical agreement by which we would simultaneously strengthen our sense of stability of place and also assume communal pastoral responsibilities in our section of Brooklyn beyond the boundaries of St. Boniface Parish. Included in the scope of these responsibilities would be a renewed commitment to the care of St. Boniface; the taking-on of care for the Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brooklyn Heights; the serious exploration of opportunities for the development of the property on which St. Boniface rectory and the “111 building” sits for parish use; the construction, in conjunction with the parish space, of a residential facility to house students attending local Catholic colleges; and, in good time, the development of a structured approach to Campus Ministry that would be an element of the ministries taking place at St. Boniface.
“After much prayer, discussion and discernment the hopes for such a firm canonical agreement have been fulfilled. Recently, Fr. Dennis, on behalf of the Oratory signed an agreement with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (on behalf of the Diocese). The agreement will take effect as of January 31, 2016 and will put into action the specific communal pastoral works mentioned above. It will surely initiate a period of exciting renewal and development for our community. This invitation made to The Oratory which has borne fruit in the agreement comes as a result of our community’s proven ability to adapt and respond to the changing pastoral needs directly in front of us. At the same time, it is a sign of confidence that the gifts of our community and its unique character of stability are the appropriate ground within which to plant seeds of growth for the life of the Church in our part of Brooklyn. The hope and trust at the foundation of these opportunities being offered to us are both humbling and ennobling.
“The parish trustees as well as the members of the Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Committee have bene invited to a meeting with the Fathers and Brother and members of the diocesan organizations that have been in dialogue with us. The purpose of this meeting will be to fill out the details of this announcement in an atmosphere open to the expression of questions and concerns, as well as to initiate a series of ongoing open meetings and discussions that will take place at St. Boniface and Assumption over time as we endeavor to make the promises embedded within the agreement real.”