Society Fulfills Dream with Shrines Placed in Front of St. Helen’s

Society Fulfills Dream with Shrines Placed in Front of St. Helen’s

Shrines of Saint Cosma and Saint Damiano were placed in front of St. Helen’s R.C. Church in Howard Beach last month, fulfilling a local man’s dream after three decades. The shrines, from Naples, Italy, were donated by The International Society of SS. Cosma and Damiano.

Monsignor Al LoPinto, Pastor of St. Helen’s, said the statues were great additions to the parish. “People are stopping by to say a prayer and admire the work,” said LoPinto. “For The International Society, it is a dream that has been realized. We are grateful for their donations.”

Joseph DeCandia Sr. who founded The International Society in 1978, vowed to place shrines of the twin brothers in front of the three local churches he worked at. Thirty-three years later, St. Helen’s was the last to have the statues donated. Both Nativity B.V.M in Ozone Park and Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach had the shrines placed on their properties previously.

Joseph DeCandia Jr., son of Joseph DeCandia Sr., described the shrine as perfect. “It was a long time coming and we are happy that it was finally accomplished,” said DeCandia. “Fulfilling my father’s dream was very hard to achieve.”

They worked to place the shrine in front of St. Helen’s for over twenty years. In late March, The International Society and St. Helen’s came to an agreement. Architect and International Society’s secretary John Calcagnile designed the plans that were sent to a firm in Naples to produce the life-sized statues.

The International Society plans to host an event to commemorate the statue with the parish, coinciding with the saints’ feast day on September 27. No exact plans have been made.

The International Society honors Cosma and Damiano, the patron saints of physicians and pharmacists, by donating to charities that focus on children including, St. Francis Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Make-a-Wish Foundation and NAAR for Autism. Nicknamed “The Moneyless Ones,” the brothers healed the body and soul of their patients free of charge. The society continues the saints’ acts of selflessness today through their donations of $1.5 million, accumulating since the society became a non-profit organization in 1990.

By Shannon Farrell


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