Tag Archives: Oratorians

Oratorians of Brooklyn

Oratory Church of St BonifaceSaint Philip Neri and his ability to connect with the common person is seen in the ministry of his sons at the Oratory of Saint Boniface in Brooklyn, NY. Saint Philip’s charism is alive and bringing Jesus the people and people to Jesus.

The Oratorians took a dead parish community and by cooperating with Grace revitalized the parish making it a place of prayer now called the The Oratory Church of Saint Boniface. They’ve renovated their church, provide an excellent sacred music ministry, an intellectual outreach as well as a myriad of ways of responding to the needs of those in need.

In a real way these urban and contemporary religious men are making being Catholic interesting, and dare I say, captivating, by making what the 16th century layman-turn-priest and saint said and did. very concrete. The Oratorian priests and brothers  are a different type of religious congregation say from the Benedictines, Jesuits and Dominicans. The men live permanently in one place, take no religious vows yet they promise to live in charity with each other serving in whatever need is identified: parish work, spiritual ministries, work with the poor and marginalized, teaching catechism and the like. The Provost is the religious superior of the local group –the point of unity– and the diocesan bishop gives the priestly faculties. Mutual obedience, concern for one another and joy are hallmarks of the Oratorian life. Each Oratorian is respected for his relationship with the Lord and the gift of self to the Church. Neri was an evangelizer, and so are his sons.

NET TV –a media ministry of the Brooklyn Diocese– interviewed the Fathers and Brothers of the Oratory  recently giving an insight into their life and work among the people of God.

Visit The Brooklyn Oratory.

Saint Philip Neri

St Philip Neri.jpg

O God, who never cease to bestow the glory of holiness on the faithful servants you raise up for yourself, graciously grant that the Holy Spirit may kindle in us that fire with which he wonderfully filled the heart of Saint Philip Neri.

Let’s remember the Congregation of the Oratory and the loyal sons of Saint Philip Neri. I am thinking particularly thinking of the Oratories found in Brooklyn (NY), Sparkill (NY), and the new Oratories in Lewiston (ME), Cincinnati (OH) and St Louis (MO).

The life of Saint Philip Neri was known as one of joy. The Apostle to Rome was a provocative witness to holiness and the happiness that results in being close to the Lord.

A sermon by Saint Augustine, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” talks about joy and therefore an apt meditation on Neri.

The Apostle tells us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. Whoever wishes to be a friend of this world, says Scripture, will be reckoned an enemy of God. As a man cannot serve two masters, so one cannot rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.

Let joy in the Lord prevail, then, until joy in the world is no more. Let joy in the Lord go on increasing; let joy in the world go on decreasing until it is no more. This is said, not because we are not to rejoice while we are in this world, but in order that, even while we are still in this world, we may already rejoice in the Lord.

You may object: I am in the world; if I rejoice I certainly rejoice where I am. What is this? Do you mean that because you are in the world you are not in the Lord? Listen again to the Apostle, speaking now to the Athenians: in the Acts of the Apostles he says this is of God and the Lord our creator: In him we live and move and have our being. If he is everywhere, where is he not? Surely this was what he was exhorting us to realize. The Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything.

This is a great truth, that he ascended above all the heavens, yet is near to those on earth. Who is this stranger and neighbor if not the one who became our neighbor out of compassion?

The man lying on the road, left half-dead by robbers, the man treated with contempt by the priest and the levite who passed by, the man approached by the passing Samaritan to take care of him and help him, that man is the whole human race. When the immortal one, the holy one, was far removed from us because we were mortal and sinners, he came down to us, so that he, the stranger, might become our neighbor.

He did not treat us as our sins deserved. For we are now sons of God. How do we show this? The only Son of God died for us, so that he might not remain alone. He who died as the only Son did not want to remain as the only Son. For the only Son of God made many sons of God. he bought brothers for himself by his blood; he made them welcome by being rejected; he ransomed them by being sold; he honored them by being dishonored; he gave them life by being put to death.

So, brethren, rejoice in the Lord, not in the world. That is, rejoice in the truth, not in wickedness; rejoice in the hope of eternity, not in the fading flower of vanity. That is the way to rejoice. Wherever you are on earth, however long you remain on earth, the Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything.e in the hope of eternity, not in the fading flower of vanity. That is the way to rejoice. Wherever you are on earth, however long you remain on earth, the Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything.

Being a mature Christian in the face of difficulty from within

Benedict’s abdication has opened the door for lots of interesting thinking these days. Some are taking the opportunity to complain about how bad they think the Church is, some taking the time to pause, evaluate, and to pray for the Pilgrim People of God. The Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, warts and all, it is beautiful, but it can be ugly at times due to the immature Christian faith of some people. Paul Elie’s article in the Times causes to me think many things; I neither disagree with him completely, nor do I agree. He raises interesting things to consider but there are parts of the article that annoy me. But that’s not to be discussed here. But I have to ask: To whom do we belong, Jesus Christ or an ideology? Is the Church leading you to salvation in ChristDo we assess the needs, pray and work for change where needed and where possible with prudence? Or, do we whine and walk away like teenagers? How mature is our Christian following?

The Provost of the Brooklyn Oratory, The Very Reverend Father Dennis Corrado, CO, writes in response to Elie’s article in the Times. The Oratorians are good shepherds to their people. 

neri relief.jpeg

I read Paul Elie’s NY Times piece “Give up your Pew for Lent” in Friday’s Op. Ed. page early this morning. To say it is thought provoking is an understatement .

I am hopeful most people reading his words can appreciate how we priests serving this wounded Church feel while reading it.

I am grateful that the Brooklyn Oratory [Church of Saint Boniface] is described so positively.

This weekend, I will begin to preach a parish retreat in what Fr. Anthony of the Brooklyn Oratory tells me is one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of New York.

I’ll preach at 5 Masses and then have sessions each day for three days. The theme is forgiveness…forgiving each other and forgiving ourselves…asking God to forgive us for the stupid, sinful things we do.. as the path to wellness and joy.

During that time I will quote Carlo Carretto’s now famous reflection which begins :How much I must criticize you, my Church.

My favorite line being: Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face, (my Church) and yet each night I pray I might die in your sure, safe arms

Carretto’s list of anger and regret and pain about the Church members’ duplicity and hypocrisy ends with the conviction that those failures are all our failures and that we are one with them as we are one with the holiness we practice.

I will remind myself and my retreat attendees that our faith is in the Person of the Church who is Jesus Christ and not in the personnel who are not…pews and pulpit alike.

And I will once again remind myself and them that my experience of four decades of public ministry has taught me that nobody changes the Church from without… only from within.

Not a single one of my priest friends who have left the Church have helped change the institution they so wanted to be better and truthful and modern and humane.

Perhaps that is why we feel the Oratory makes a difference . And it is certainly why I can never separate myself from the Eucharistic Body of Christ as some kind of protest against our Church’s failures… no matter how often they occur.

Did Theresa of Avila or Francis of Assisi or Catherine of Siena or Philip Neri vacate the corrupted Church of their ages?

As a son of Vatican II I have never stopped preaching that the Church is the People of God,: flawed, foolish, sinful, brilliant, graced. holy and even saintly that is, all of us …. not just the Chanceries nor the Curias.

We do make a difference and I am reminded of Woody Allen’s remark that 80 percent of success is showing up.

I know wherever each of us will find ourselves this weekend, in whatever equally flawed and holy place as ours, we will still be one with each other, baptized as we are into the eternal Body of Christ.

And while I feel the painful reality of each of our diasporas, I pray any kind of suggested Lenten “abstinence” brings us back to our sede vacante.

As they say in Rome: con affetto,

F. Dennis, c.o.


The Brooklyn Oratory

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory