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Once Competitors, North Brooklyn’s Catholics Churches Unite to Draw New Congregants

Catholic Churches in North Brooklyn have recently consolidated under one umbrella organization – North Brooklyn Catholic – to better meet the needs of the community and to reach out to newer residents moving in.

The group is currently comprised of 15 churches in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, with the objective to inform the community of the various specialized services each member offers, and the various ways residents can help out with services and interact with others in the neighborhood.

One of the leaders in the push to create the group was Monsignor Joseph Calise, the pastor at The Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Monsignor Calise said that staff at the member churches began meeting last fall to discuss the possibility of uniting under an umbrella organization as a more efficient means of reaching out to the community.

“This neighborhood is definitely changing, and I think working together we can accomplish so much more,” he said. “This is a way for us to better publicize ourselves to let people know where to find us.”

Monsignor Calise said he does not necessarily attribute the formation of the group to the decrease in population of Catholics, but did observe that it was harder to interpret people’s faith backgrounds these days with newer residents moving in.

In fact, nationwide, one in three Americans said they were raised Catholic, but that number has reduced to about one in four today, according to a study conducted by the Pew Forum on religion and public life. The study also states that to a large extent the decrease in Catholics growing up in the States is often offset by the number of immigrants moving into the country – and Greenpoint continues to have a thriving immigrant population.

The study also finds that those aged 18 – 29 are less likely to be affiliated with any particular religion in contrast to individuals over 70 years of age.

That statistic might not necessarily hold true for all of North Brooklyn. The Pastor at the St. Anthony – St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church on Manhattan Avenue (also a member of North Brooklyn Catholic), Rev. Sojan Cyriac Antony said that the recent election of Pope Francis had in fact increased the number of youngsters visiting his church.

“I think Pope Francis has really been an influence on the youth,” said Rev. Antony. “I think they are drawn to his messages about issues important to the youth and his helping the poor and disadvantaged.”

In addition to setting up a website for the group, one of the next steps the group is undertaking is the creation of a brochure with information similar to that available on the website, but in greater detail, to be distributed at hotels and community centers throughout the neighborhood.

For more information on the group and their services visit http://www.northbrooklyncatholic.org.

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