Bath Beach – Saint Finbar Catholic Church opened in 1912. That same year, Woodrow Wilson was elected president of the United States, the Titanic sank, Fenway Park opened in Boston, New Mexico and Arizona became the 47th and 48th states respectively, and the Girl Scouts of America was founded.
One hundred years have passed since the church doors first opened to welcome worshipers and St. Finbar Church has survived and prospered.
Led by their pastor, the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant, parishioners celebrated the 100th anniversary of their church building at 138 Bay 20th St. with a special mass on May 20.
The highlight of the service took place when the Most Rev. Guy Sansaricq, auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Brooklyn, re-consecrated the structure with Holy Chrism, special oil that has been blessed.
The bishop walked to the four corners of the building and gently touched the walls with the Holy Chrism.
In the Catholic Church tradition, once a church building is consecrated, it is designated for a holy purpose.
“This building can never be a shopping center or a restaurant,” Bishop Sansaricq told the congregation in his homily.
The bishop paid tribute to the parishioners for their dedication to the church.
Following the mass, parishioners gathered in the church hall for a potluck lunch. Parishioners brought homemade dishes to the event and shared them with each other.
The church is named for an Irish saint. The parish itself was established in 1880. Masses were held in various locations during the parish’s first 32 years before the current building opened in 1912.
One hundred years ago, the Bath Beach community was home to a large number of Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans. In recent years, the community has been increasingly populated by people from Central and South America who have made Bath Beach their home and have joined St. Finbar Church, giving the parish a new flavor. The church also still has many Italian-American parishioners.
Masses are offered in English, Spanish and Italian.