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Thursday 16 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cornelius and Cyprian

Restoration: Bringing Back a Brooklyn Church’s Beautiful Tabernacle

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 01/29/16

Here’s a real day-brightener for you:

It’s the resurrection! An important piece of a Bath Beach church’s century-old altar has returned from the grave thanks to a pious parishioner whose de-shrine intervention saved it 30 years ago, his pastor said. “The high altar is right in the center of the church, and the piece Bill saved is an important piece of it,” said the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant. Bill Coppa rescued the face of St. Finbar Church’s tabernacle — where Catholics store what they believe is the body of Jesus Christ — from a garbage pile during a 1984 renovation. A previous pastor didn’t give a frock about the gilded marble masterpiece, but Coppa thought trashing it was a sin, so he put it in his den, he said.
br-st-finbars-tabernacle-2016-01-29-bk01_z-1
“I ran back in and I said ‘Father! There’s this beautiful piece there, and it’s thrown in the trash,’ and I asked if I could take it,” Coppa said. “He didn’t mind, so I grabbed it, and I’ve had it in my home office for 32 years.” The congregation is in the midst of a larger renovation, and Coppa jumped at the chance to return the relic, he said. Gelfant discovered two other pieces of the altar in a forgotten storeroom shortly after inheriting the flock in 2010, and the revelation inspired him to return the church to its former glory, he said. “Those two great finds sparked the possibility we could restore it to the way it was,” Gelfant said.

Read on to learn how it was done.

St. Finbar’s is a glorious treasure for the diocese and it’s wonderful to see what Fr. Gelfant and his dedicated parishioners have been able to do with a parish that was on the verge of closure.  I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Miracles happen. St. Finbar’s is proof.

Photos: Louise Wateridge / BrooklynDaily.com / St. Finbar’s website

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