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Precious Blood, Astoria, Queens, New York City
Adoro Te Devote.
Most Precious Blood, Astoria, Queens, New York, USA.
Roman Catholic, Diocese
of Brooklyn and Queens.
A modern building in the Romanesque style with some art deco
touches. A castle-like bell tower stands off to one side. The
grounds include a parking lot – so important in the "outer
boroughs" of New York, where street parking is at a premium
and public transportation is less likely to take you conveniently
to where you want to go. The interior is bright and well lit,
with a very basic setup including numerous shrines with the
customary votive candles. The decor reflects the multi-ethnic
nature of the parish. The sanctuary is framed by an arch on
which appear the words: "He shed his blood to set us free."
The altar is free-standing, with a smaller altar at the back
on which rests the tabernacle. On the wall above the tabernacle
is mounted a large cross.
The parish was formed in 1922. Masses are offered in Brazilian
Portuguese, Croatian, Italian, Spanish and Tagalog to compliment
the six English Masses, thus reflecting the diverse ethnic makeup
of Astoria. They also sponsor a Purgatorial Society and hold
First Friday devotions as well as regular adoration of the Blessed
Sacrament. There is a parish school for children in grades kindergarten
Astoria is the westernmost neighborhood in New York City's borough
of Queens, which lies north and east of Brooklyn on Long Island.
Originally called Hallets Cove, it was renamed in 1839 to honor
real estate tycoon John Jacob Astor, who, when he died in 1848,
was the wealthiest man in the United States. Astoria has long
been an enclave of working class immigrants from dozens of countries;
it is said to be home to the largest population of Greeks outside
of Greece itself. Primarily residential in character, some well-known
industries are headquartered there, including the Steinway piano
factory. The photocopying technique called xerography (the forerunner
of Xerox) was invented in 1938 in a laboratory in Astoria. La
Guardia Airport is just to the east of Astoria, and off the
north shore is Rikers Island, the county jail for the five boroughs
of New York. Astoria's famous sons and daughters include the
operatic diva Maria Callas, actors George Maharis and Christopher
Walken, and singers Ethel Merman and Tony Bennett. The church
is located on 36th Street at Broadway, a part of Astoria that
is very quickly gentrifying and filling up with young people.
There are a myriad of business that cater to the multi-ethic
residents that include numerous young professionals and older
families that have been there for years.
The Revd William F. Krlis, pastor, was the celebrant. He was
assisted by a single acolyte (a girl wearing her hair in a pony
tail), two lectors, and two eucharistic ministers, none of whom
The date & time:
Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 20, 2010, 8.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About half full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
No. We arrived as the earlier mass was letting out. Mrs Adoro
Te Devote was struck by how young and handsome the priest who
took that mass was. Priests are supposed to remind us of God,
so I guess that was all right.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes. They were wooden, with folding kneelers. Pretty typical.
How would you describe the pre-service
Quiet and contemplative. The air was fragrant with the lingering
aroma of incense (loved it!), although no incense was used at
the mass we attended.
What were the exact opening words of the
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
What books did the congregation use during the
A worship resource put out by Oregon Catholic Press that combined
both the readings and the hymns.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ – very well, in fact. The organ is opus 1769 of the Austin
Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut.
Did anything distract you?
A gentleman several pews in front of us kept crossing himself
obsessively and motioning off into space during the prayers
like he was directing something that none of the rest of us
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
It was a normal Sunday mass. The altar was dressed with what
appeared to be a homespun altar cloth on which two candles had
been placed. There was also an abundance of flowers. The lectors
spoke clearly. There were hymns, but the mass itself was recited
except for the Lord's Prayer, which was sung (with people adopting
the orans position, or the "panhandle position" as
I like to call it). I was impressed by the fact that the priest
insisted that we sing all the verses of every hymn. My usual
experience in the Catholic church is that the singing is cut
off after one or two verses. The cantor leading the singing
was very good and really came into his own when reaching for
the high notes. No bells at the elevation I've grown
used to them in my home parish and always find it odd when they
are omitted. Communion was under the species of bread only
I'll have more to say about it in a moment.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 The priest sounded a bit like one of the anchors on
the late-night TV news program Nightline. I had expected
a thick New York accent but he had none to speak of.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
How God accompanies us all as we continue our Christian journey
through life. We need always to be cognizant of the fact that
being a Christian also requires a degree of martyrdom, and that
martyrdom most often takes the form of clinging to our beliefs
amid a society that rejects them.
Which part of the service was like being in
The priest's focus on the importance of congregational singing,
something that as a Catholic I find needs more attention.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The intercessions (prayers of the faithful) in a Catholic church
almost always end with "Lord, hear our prayer." Today,
however, we were asked to say, "God, listen to us."
It seemed a bit like telling God what to do. I found it bothersome.
I was also a bit bothered by the way communion was done. The
priest distributed communion from one side of the altar, and
the two eucharistic ministers from the other side. I prefer
to receive communion in the ordinary manner, as is every Catholic's
right, and so I had to zig-zag out of my line and into the line
that was forming on the priest's side. Others followed suit.
That wouldn't have been necessary had the priest stood at the
center, with the two eucharistic ministers on either side.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone headed off. The priest greeted us at the door as we
left and wished us well.
How would you describe the after-service
I find this to be rare in Catholic churches, and Most Precious
Blood was no exception.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 I don't live anywhere near Astoria, but I found the
interest in congregational singing edifying. Some of the devotions
that the parish engages in are very interesting to me.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. The multi-ethnic nature of the congregation reminded me
of my home parish.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Mrs Adoro Te Devote's comments regarding the priest who took
the earlier mass.
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