The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


A parish grows in Brooklyn

posted by jmcgee

From the In My Backyard Desk…an inspiring story of evangelization:

What I found while teaching a Called & Gifted workshop in Brooklyn last week is absolutely unique. I’ve worked in hundreds of Catholic parishes in 100 dioceses on 5 continents and I have NEVER met Catholics who is doing what Most Precious Blood parish is attempting. (There is no parish website yet. They’ve been busy building other things.)

Most Precious Blood parish is located at the tip of Brooklyn, next to Coney Island, in an area that has been majority Italian for generations. Over the past 10 years, the Italians have been moving by the thousands and their place has been taken largely by Chinese and Russian immigrants who are not Catholic. Many have no Christian background at all. Like most parishes in the area, Most Precious Blood’s membership had dropped nearly 80% from the its height in the 60′s and the majority who attend are elderly.

Fr. Maduri, who grew up Catholic in the parish next-door, became pastor just over a year ago and responded in a remarkable way. He sized up the situation quickly: either the human community had to be rebuilt or the parish would close. Since the traditional Catholic population was leaving the area, he would focus on making disciples of the unchurched and apostles of the churched.

When the parish school closed, he rented the building out and used the income to renovate the old convent into a faith formation center. He brought in two enthusiastic young evangelists, newly married Andy – with his wife, Megan – and a exuberant young woman named Kree. They work with a Catholic group called Dirty Vagabonds, which specializes in the personal evangelization of urban youth. These recent graduates of the Franciscan University of Steubenville sport lots of conversation-starting tattoos, live very simply in the faith formation building, and spend their afternoons going out and meeting the kids in the neighborhood and the projects nearby. They have resurrected the parish youth group and renovated the rectory basement into an “Underground” gathering space. After only 4 months, attendance is going up steadily – with non-Catholic black and Chinese kids.

Fr. Maduri has also begun an outreach to local Hispanics. He brought in Nancy, a quietly vibrant and efficient woman, whom he had worked with in another parish, to run adult faith formation. He is forming a critical core of the parshioners, sending them to conferences, bringing in speakers to give retreats, putting on Life in the Spirit seminars, and bringing us in to teach his parishioners about gifts discernment.

But Fr. Maduri has even bigger plans. Next year, he will be collaborating with a Catholic Chinese woman to begin reaching out to the huge number of non-Christian Chinese immigrants in the area. When I realized that I was in the midst of a group of life-long Italian Catholics who were planning to learn Chinese (!) in order to evangelize their new neighbors who have no Christian background, I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto!”

Read more. This is truly remarkable stuff.



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Belen

posted November 28, 2010 at 2:14 am


THAT’S what I call “TRUE LIDERSHIP”. Calling others to help you with the ministries, allowing different movements to take place in your church, evangelizing on the streets to different people from different races and different backgrounds. I’m telling you, next year this parish is gonna become a “mega-parish”, lol :D



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NJ Azzaro

posted November 28, 2010 at 3:31 pm


Great evangelization story! I know this parish well as my cousins grew up in that parish neighborhood! Fr. Maduri has the right idea and I’m sure this plan will bear fruit! More urban parishes should imitate his plans and ideas. There are so many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan which are populated by young people, many of whom are Catholic, which would benefit from creative, “out-of-the box thinking and evangelization ideas.
NJ Azzaro



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Tony Rossi

posted November 29, 2010 at 10:27 am


FYI, here’s a link to an interview I did with the founder of Dirty Vagabond Ministries last year which explains their approach:
http://tonyrossi.blogspot.com/2009/05/mother-teresa-with-earrings-and-tattoos.html



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