Brooklyn Church Reintroduces Catholicism to Millennials with R&B and Coors

Brooklyn Church Reintroduces Catholicism to Millennials with R&B and Coors

Brooklyn Church Reintroduces Catholicism to Millennials with R&B and Coors

Two friars are reviving a church in “hipster” Brooklyn.

The San Damiano Mission, formerly known as the Holy Family Slovak Church, located at N 15th Street and Nassau Avenue, in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, is not exactly your typical, conventional church anymore. Prior to February 2015, before the Franciscan friars, Reverend Raphael Zwolenkiewicz and Deacon Nicholas Spano, took over the church, it was exactly that, and its membership was dwindling. It had oak doors padlocked and chained and the masses conducted were held while most of the neighborhood were asleep. This, despite the fact the area had a good number of millennials who were baptized Catholics.

Brooklyn Church Reintroduces Catholicism to Millennials with R&B and Coors[/tweetthis]

The Franciscan friars, after taking charge of the church, replaced its oak doors with glass doors. They made the church look more inviting. They adjusted the mass schedule. According to Deacon Spano, they made the church look its best. Also, they often go out the church in their robes and interact with the local people, letting them know they are not scary and that they are approachable. They are bringing the church to the people in a new way. It was Deacon Spano who proposed turning the church into an arts hub and an important part of the community. Nowadays, apart from masses, the church attends also conducts musical performances and church meetings where the members come wearing denim shorts, bikini tops, black chokers, drank beer.

According to Father Zwolenkiewicz, “We’re not here to be an invisible presence, but something very tangible….Whether it’s services in the church or out in front of the church just hanging out, or even on the corner, we’ll be in our vestments and saying hello to people as they walk by.” They reach out to people. They are trying to rejuvenate the presence of the church in the community.

The association of the friars with the local radio station, 'The Lot Radio', also helped to spread the word about the new 'hipster' church in the neighborhood. The gigs are actually attracting a lot of youngsters to the church, people who would never have set their foot inside a church otherwise. The friars also host cookouts on a regular basis.

Nikki Cohen, one of the neighborhood resident, who discovered church through the radio station said, “This is a social place, a community place you can come and hang out.”

The masses are not exactly packed with people, however, there has been a steady increase in the attendance. Since the church has a glass door, and it is usually open, people passing through find it inviting, and many come in, and pray silently.

According to Deacon Spano, he sees people inside the church as progress.


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