By Michael V. Cusenza
Members of the Howard Beach community on Tuesday evening joined elected officials, civic leaders, and diocesan dignitaries at St. Helen Roman Catholic Church for a Mass to celebrate the dedication of the altar at the beloved Rockwood Park place of worship.
The Rev. Francis Colamaria, pastor of St. Helen’s, led the procession of bishops – including Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who celebrated the Mass – into the nave as the church choir harmonized the entrance hymn, “I Will go up to the Altar of God.”
“I will go up to the altar of God/to the God who gives me life; I will go up to the altar of God, to the God of my delight!”
In recent months, the renovated St. Helen’s has installed several new items: pews, an organ, the tabernacle, candles, and a crucifix that was carved in Colombia.
St. Helen’s was officially established on June 24, 1960, after the Diocese of Brooklyn recognized the need to serve the burgeoning Catholic community that had settled west of Cross Bay Boulevard. In October, 1961, after a successful fundraising campaign, land was purchased on 157th Avenue and 84th Street. It was to be the site of what is now known as Father Dooley Hall. Construction was completed in April, 1962 and Mass was celebrated there on Palm Sunday, April 15, 1962. The official consecration of the building took place on Sept. 16, 1962.