The folks at Holy Name wanted me to alert you to a new project. With Container Diaries reaching many people across the country, everyone thought it would be a great way to spread the word. 

Holy Name of Jesus Parish is formally announcing a major project called, “The Restoration of Holy Name of Jesus Church, 135 years – Fulfilling Our Vision”.

The project is a historical restoration of the Church. The centerpiece of the restoration is our hopeful acquisition of a James A. Renwick Reredos. Renwick is a famed 19th century American architect known for designing St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Smithsonian Institution Building. Renwick is buried in Greenwood Cemetery. The Reredos; a marble altar and its associated elements were saved from St. Vincent DePaul Church in Williamsburg prior to the property’s sale. In additional to the altar, the restoration is projecting a new paint design, marble and tile floors, stenciling and liturgical art elements, new air conditioning, pew updating and cathedral lighting.

HN Alter 2:15:13

Under the leadership of Fr. Jim Cunningham, so many people along with the Buildings Committee have been working with various liturgical design firms to better understand the types of renovations that can happen. There are many elements that go into this type of project. The team is also working with a development firm to help us understand the project logistics and fundraising options. A formal design will be presented in the coming weeks.

Next weekend, February 23rd and February 24th is the official project launch at all the masses.

So many people have wanted this day to come. It will only happen if we all pull together and make it happen. We invite you to join us.

Help us get the word out. To get involved and for more information, please like us on Facebook (Holy Name of Jesus Brooklyn Church Restoration Project), contact the Buildings Committee at HNJBuildings@aol.com or call the Holy Name Rectory at 718-768-3071.



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24 Responses to HOLY NAME CHURCH

  1. Karen Artz Shanley says:

    Would this mean Holy Name would be restored to the beauty it once was before they did the horrible renovations in the 80’s. To me it looks like a scene from Star Trek (beam me up Scotty). I will like & share on FB

  2. Nick Sisto says:

    As a member of the Holy Name Buildings Committee, I want to take an opportunity to thank Steve not only for his wonderful blog and the memories it reflects on but his strong support of our project. He helps us stay connected. “Container Dairies” reaches so many friends and alumni of Holy Name. We want to keep you informed on our progress and give you an opportunity to participate in making this dream; years in the making happen. We need you prayers and financial support. Please visit “Container Dairies”, our Facebook page and the Holy Name website for updates. Feel free to email us and call the Holy Name Rectory for more information.

    • Gene Green says:

      To what Year is the restoration targeted. I agree with Karen what Happened in the 80’s destroyed so much beauty. Is the picture what the finished project will look like ??

      • Nick Sisto says:

        We hopefully will start construction in mid-July of this year. The Reredos depicted, would be used as a main altar and be the “centerpiece” to the restoration. There are two side altars for the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph that match. We need strong support and commitment to make this project happen. Our campaign is underway now to raise the needed funds.

        Keep visiting “Container Dairies” for more details. You can see more pictures on our Facebook page, “Holy Name of Jesus Brooklyn Church Restoration Project.

        Thanks for your interest.

  3. Don Cush says:

    I thought the 80’s renovations were mandatory because of Vatican II. Has that changed? I know they brought back some of the old wording in the prayers and responses during Mass

    • Nick Sisto says:


      I am certainly no expert but I will try to give you my personal insight in terms of your question. The premise of Vatican II was really the affirmation of the role of the laity (us) in the Church. Before Vatican II, the laity was considered on a different level than the religious. The religious and ordained must always be respected and thanked for the personal sacrifice they make for us and the Church. Vatican II helped the laity better understand that both the religious and we the “people” play different but equally important roles in the life of the Church. We are seen as the “same” in God’s eyes. I believe Vatican II helped the laity move from simply “participating” to one that acted as an “owner or stakeholder”. Look at the many roles the laity performs for our Church today. These include Lector, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Catechist, etc.

      The changes that Vatican II introduced such as Mass in local languages, music ministries and the Sanctuary being more “open” were intended to get the laity more involved. The 1980’ renovation at Holy Name and the design team used Vatican II as a “reference” point but I don’t believe Vatican II mandated the changes. The architect used the Vatican II documents as perhaps “inspiration”.

      I hope this somewhat helps.

      • Gene Green says:

        The architect seemed to be more inspired by a wrestling match more so than Vatican II. I have weeding Pictures that show the true glory of Holy Name. When it inspired respect and love for church and all it stood for. If that is the goal I will also help the project.

      • pat Fenton says:

        This I remember about the old Holy Name Church that formed me into a part of who I am today. There were these huge murals on the back wall of the altar and all around the sides of it, all dark, green and red oil colored. And when you knelt down along the black metal railing to receive holy communion on Sunday mornings, which was always placed on your tongue, you would look up at it.

        It was the early 50’s, and as I recall, it was a scene of the crucifixion of Christ. And I remember as a young boy how the pictures of the Roman soldiers with their shields in hand and swords scared me. Scared me, but still I felt safe in that church with its mystery of the Latin Mass and novenas that would fill up with so many people from 17th Street, and the rest of the neighborhood, that I remember one night they had to place chairs on the altar area to seat us all.

        I never understood what Vatican 11 accomplished, except to make the church a less solemn place to pray. Of course, it’s too late to discuss that now. I remember some years ago going back to Holy Name Church with the newspaper columnist Bill Reel, a good friend of mine, and the two of us sat up in a front pew on an afternoon when it was empty.

        Bill was a very religious man, but he also had a sharp sense of street humor that picked up on everyday experiences that some missed. “I feel like we’re sitting in a disco club in Greenwich Village instead of a church,” he said as we looked up at the pastel colored walls where the murals once were.

        I have often wondered what happened to those murals. Were they just painted over? Does anyone have pictures of them? Who was the artist that painted them? And can they be found if the paint was stripped away from the wall? The new people who are moving into Windsor Terrace more and more, have no idea that all this once existed. And I’m not sure that they would even care. Try floating some of the above questions around the Double Windsor some night over a craft beer and I’m sure you will get a blank stare.

        But what I would like to see is a renovation of the church that in some way, and I’m not too sure what it would be, would bring back some of that greatness and solemn presence that Holy Name Church once had. Something that would bring back a reminder of the great working-class immigrant history of a neighborhood parish that once happened here.

        Perhaps it could start by finding out what ever happened to those sacred murals that adorned the altar. Perhaps it could start by finding old pictures of what this great church once looked like inside, and framing them and displaying them in the lobby of Holy Name Church as you walk in, along with some old pictures of the Irish and Italian immigrants who came here and called it there parish.

        And make one of them a black and white picture of some young kid from the neighborhood hawking the Catholic newspaper The Tablet at the bottom of the church steps on some long ago fall morning when we were young and innocent to the ways of the world outside our parish.

        Whatever they do, I hope they don’t ever change the name of Holy Name Church.

        I submit all this humbly, being I am a long time Holy Name parishioner who currently lives out in the burbs of Massapequa, Long Island. However, my roots are still in Windsor Terrace along with the memory of my sister Eileen who was born and died there five years ago. And they always will be.

      • Nick Sisto says:

        Thank you for your wonderful memories. I recall the murals very well and quite fondly too. We have confirmed beyond doubt that they were cut out and removed in the 1980’s renovation. If you visit our Facebook page, “Holy Name of Jesus Brooklyn Church Restoration Project” you’ll see some wonderful color pictures of them. They and the James A. Renwick altar are the inspirations for the new design which is a “liturgical restoration”. The Facebook page already has some clues to the new design that will be unveiled in the coming weeks. Check back to Container Dairies and our Facebook page for ongoing news and updates.

      • bob terry says:

        First of all, please allow me to speak to Vatican II. What it simply was about was bringing the laity more into the mass. Turning the altair around so the celebrant faced the congregation, and changing the language of the mass from Latin to English was a wonderful thing. The laity was no longer observers, but participants. Secondly, I was one of the kids selling The Tablet in front of church on Sundays: Tablet, Tablet, ten cents a copy. I made enough money from selling The Tablet during my days @ Holy Name grammar school to pay for my tuition @ Cathedral Prep. I still receive The Tablet by mail weekly @ my home in Los Angeles. As far as the renovation goes, I always thought that Holy Name was a beautiful church. I moved away in 1972, so I didn’t see the changes I have heard about. Several years ago, when Father Gary Rogers was pastor, I purchased a new station of the cross for the church. I thought that they were renovating then. Anyway, I will help with the current renovation. One last thought, a church is not the building, but the people who attend, and Holy Name had some of the finest people I have ever known. Those people and that church had a profound influence on me and I am forever grateful.

      • Don Cush says:

        We were told that when they did the renovations in the 80’s the reason why the statues, Murals, etc. were removed was that Vatican II stated that any new churches or renovated churches must be done that way to get away from Iidol worship that was a crticism of the church at that time. Was that just a story?

  4. bob terry says:

    Thanks for making me aware of this; I just called the rectory and will get involved in this worthy program.

  5. jimmyvac says:

    I am with Karen.. I liked the way the Church looked pre 80’s restoration. i hope it has less the modern look but with the modern amenities mentioned like the air conditioning and improves lighting.

  6. jim casey says:

    hate to be a skeptic, but in these days of dwindling funds, esp for he school, is this the best use of big funds ?

    • Nick Sisto says:

      You ask a fair question. Ever since the renovation was unveiled in the early 1980’s, people were commenting, “what the inspiration was for that design”. Not too far past that, people started to ask what is next. A few years later, many people started asking for a change. That question/comment has been growing louder every year since. It is loud still today not only from long time “Holy Namers” but most new parishioners too.

      Thirty years have passed since that renovation and the condition now overall is dated and worn. Some of the upkeep has been inconsistent and some of the subsystems are in various states of functionality. Holy Name Church is 135 years old and in the spirit of the “New Evangelization”, many people want to see the parish grow and thrive. The restoration plans and capital campaign underway are designed to do that. Ultimately, whatever restoration happens will be based upon the direct support of the capital campaign and the dreams and desires of the Holy Name parishioners, trustees and stakeholders.

      What we can tell you is the campaign is off to a very strong and supportive start. Thank you for your comment.

  7. jimmyvac says:

    When I was at Holy Name, I always wished we had a gym or a rec center.

  8. Pat Fenton says:

    No matter what architectural form Holy Name Church exists in, it will always be Holy Name to me. And I’m just glad it still exists. I made my first Holy Communion there, I was Confirmed there, and my wedding announcement with a Red Hook girl, Patricia Kenny, was read from the altar there one Sunday in the 60‘s, even though I wasn’t living in the parish anymore.

    I had my share of family funeral masses there, too many, called to read from the altar at one just ffive ago. So it will always be a part of me; a place I could never leave.

    And yeah, I miss the old Latin Mass with all its mystery, and seemingly timelessness that suggested that it would go on forever and ever and always be there for you; before Vatican II. And that made sense to me. Maybe it’s the Catholic school kid in me, but like the writer Richard Rodriguez who has written about the changes that came after Vatican II, “I miss the old trappings–trappings that disclosed a different reality.”
    But I’ll tell you what, as always, I will do anything I can to help restore Holy Name Church to its greatness, to help make sure that that beautiful site of its high steeple is visible in Windsor Terrace to welcome us all home again and again.

  9. Gloria Cunningham Kreth says:

    I am on the Parish Council and have seen some of the plans to restore Holy Name to its former splendor. Please get involved in any way you can. Thank you Steve for giving space to spread the word.

  10. Duncan Farmer says:

    My parents were married in Holy Name in 1945 and we have still photos of the altar and a few minutes of film in color. Let me know if that might be of some help in the restoration effort. Vatican II has been blamed for every lame-brained movement and re-design in the Catholic Church since 1962. Most of the deviations were in the minds of the promoters and not in the Vatican Documents. Stick with the one, the true, the good and the beautiful and you will be fine.

  11. Jim Sullivan says:

    I don’t know if this is accurate, but I do recall some of the adult chatter as we left the unveiling of the new HN church. It was universally derided and I know us kids thought it new set-up was a complete joke. Everyone was asking why? The answer at the time was that Catholic Church attendance was on the decline, while Protestant rolls were rising. The Church wanted Mass to be conducted more in the Protestant style, with the priest out among the parishioners, such that it resembled a celebration rather than someone just laying down the law from on high.

    • Nick Sisto says:

      I do remember that explanation as well Jim. Another I recall was about the lack of color and images in the new church like murals was to inspire deeper, more personal reflection. Instead of being held to what the artist or designer thought the imagine should be, the void of them allows the person to create their own and their own level. Not sure if it’s true but another one that’s been around.

  12. Joan (Ferraro) Hanvey says:

    I agree with Duncan: Vatican II has been blamed for everything; it’s the perfect scapegoat. I weep over its systematic destruction.

  13. Duncan Farmer says:

    Change is factually inevitable and easily observable. It is much harder to determine that which stays, and should stay, the same. The entire course of Judeo/Christianity has chronicled our temptation to do what we want to do as opposed to what we ought to do. There are only two resources to reach the right conclusion, faith and reason. The problem is that we, as imperfect creatures, will frequently err as to reason in many ways and for many reasons. And the hard thing about faith is “on who’s or what authority” do we believe? Joan is right that we live in an age of deconstructionism in which loud voices in the culture argue that there is no right or wrong (except of course for the purportedly “right” statement that “there is no right or wrong”) or, at least, that right or wrong is not perceivable with accuracy.
    I think much of our nostalgia for the past is for something like the clarity of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s weekly “Life is Worth Living.”

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