Church Near Barclays Center Elevated to Cathedral Status

By Rachel Holliday Smith on May 14, 2014 10:11am 

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 Bishop DiMarzio lead a designation ceremony at the newly renamed Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights.
Prospect Heights Church Recognized by Brooklyn Diocese
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PROSPECT HEIGHTS A Pacific Street church located just blocks from the Barclays Center has been officially designated a cathedral, and is now one of two sites recognized as the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees all 189 Catholic parishes in Brooklyn and Queens.

Previously called the Church of St. Joseph, the building at 856 Pacific St. near Vanderbilt Avenue with dual steeples will now be called the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph — following a ceremony Tuesday night.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who presides over Brooklyn, wanted to elevate the once-struggling church because of its prime location in the center of the Atlantic Yards construction boom, officials said.

DiMarzio noticed the church about 10 years ago, when it was in a state of disrepair, and immediately saw the potential of the quickly changing neighborhood and the building, which can seat 1,500 people but had only a few dozen people attending Mass at the time.

“Bishop DiMarzio had the foresight to see that the Barclays Center was going up and that there were going to be 16,000 apartment units that were going to be built,” according to diocese spokeswoman Stefanie Gutierrez.

DiMarzio began petitioning the Vatican in about 2003 to designate St. Joseph as a cathedral, Gutierrez said. Pope Benedict XVI elevated the church to the status of cathedral in February 2013, just before he resigned the papacy.

DiMarzio celebrated a Tuesday night Mass and ceremony at St. Joseph to recognize the building’s elevation to cathedral making it one of two official seats of the Diocese of Brooklyn, sharing the status with the Cathedral Basilica of St. James in downtown Brooklyn.

St. Joseph, built in 1912, recently underwent an $18.5 million restoration to shore up its façade, fix the roof, install new murals and restore its steeple bell. With that work completed, the cathedral now hosts an average of 700 parishioners at Sunday Mass, according to the diocese, an upward trend the church attributes to the neighborhood’s revitalization.

“It would seem that a Catholic church ought to be part of this massive urban renewal project,” Monsignor Kieran Harrington, pastor and rector at St. Joseph, said in a statement. “The Church of St. Joseph is perfectly situated to meet that need.”

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