Long Island Educator Honored by Roman Catholic Church Leaders As Old St. Patrick’s Designated a Basilica
By Dr. Dan Miller
December 15, 2010
Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Edward Cardinal Egan joined a large number of priests and hundreds of parishoners celebrated the inauguration of the St. Patrick Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan as New York’s first basilica, a designation approved by Pope Benedict XVI back in March, 2010. Basilica is a term used for the most important ancient houses places of worship in Rome.
St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, a 205-year old structure, was the original seat of the Roman Catholic Church when built between 1809 and 1815. It was replaced as the home of the Arch Diocese by St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1879.
The celebration took plays during evening prayer, known traditionally as Vespers, at the two hundred year old house of worship located at the corner of Mott and Prince Street in Little Italy. Movie fans might remember the church scene in the Godfather . It was filmed at this marvelous architectural treasure, the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
A number of Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn residents were on hand to help celebrate the Basilica inauguration as well as to help honor one of their very own, Gail Frohlinger, an educator at Garden City High School Adult Educaztion Program who was invited to create an important element for the evening Vesper service. One of the two symbols included in the service, the umbraculum(umbrella) which along with the tintinnabulum(bell) that originated back in the day when Popes traveled though the city of Rome and were sheltered by the umbraculum. This ancient umbraculum used to be decorated with the official colors of the City of Rome, red and yellow and adorned with the insignia of the Holy See. The other symbol of a basilica, the tintinnabulum(bell) was rung to announce the approach of the Pope. Gail Frohlinger’s umbrella adorned the chapel and a bell was rung as well during the special commemorative service. The artist is well known for her tapestries designed for the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.
On hand to honor their friend were Supreme Court Justice James J. Golia and his brother Associate Justice Joseph G. Golia of the Supreme Court, Queens County, both accompanied by their wives. They were joined by Briarwood residents, Pamela Arcuri and Janet O’Hara.
My photography partner, Victoria Canore, who grew up in Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn and now a resident of Garden City Long Island was very moved by the evening’s event since her late mother, Carmela Turturo, regularly attended services at her parish church as a child, the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral,when growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as a young girl.
Brooklynites, Lt Colonial John Bovona (Bensonhurst)and his father Jerome Bovoana (Bay Ridge) were particularly interested in the celebration since John’s father attended the olds St. Patrick’s school back in the 40’s. John has\served two tours of duty in the Middle East, returning safely on both occasions.
Joining the dignitaries at a reception following the Vespers were Dr. Fiorentino Russo, retired Language Professor at St. John’s University, and Joe and Chris Vaccarino (Bayside). Joe heads up the Queens Law Associates Program offering free legal services to those individuals who have run a-fowl of the law and can’t afford legal aide.
We met James Mueller and his family (Kritsin and Ann), former Queens residents who now live in New Jersey. Mr. Mueller is the contractor who did the renovations on the Old St. Patrick’s to modernize it enough for the Pope to look at it as a contender to be named a Basilica. He was particularly excited about working on such on old structure and making sure to maintain the character of the two hundred year old church while making some modernization changes.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan made a point of thanking government leaders for attending the service. He introduced New York City Comptroller John Liu, Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly who attended with his wife and the Hon .Francesco Maria Talo, Consul General of Italy who sat with his wife Ornella.
A large number of Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island residents who at one time in their lives had attended prayer services at this popular house of worship in New York were also in attendance.
Da Nico Ristorante located at 164 Mulberry Street contributed the outstanding Italian food spread for the after Vespers reception.
Photos by Dr. Dan Miller and Victoria Canore/DMD IMAGES
Dr. Dan Miller
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