This is a place of awe; this is God's house, the gate of heaven, and it shall be called the royal court of God. (Gen. 28:17)
In 1990 a timeworn church with a rich history and beautiful architecture hidden beneath layers of dirt and peeling paint sat in Downtown Brooklyn. Built by German immigrants in the 1870s, and now with dwindling parishioners and located amidst an economically depressed neighborhood, the Catholic parish of Saint Boniface faced a bleak future.
Our church has been and will always be made up of the community of people, the 'living stones'.
At the same time, the Brooklyn Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, priests and brothers of the Order of Saint Philip Neri, were searching for a permanent home.
The then-bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Mugavero, envisioned an opportunity to wed this bride of a parish church to this suitor made up of dedicated servants. The Oratory Church of Saint Boniface soon was formed.
After years of extensive renewal - both of the charming neo-Gothic church structure and of the parish community - the Oratory Church of Saint Boniface soon became a home for a new generation.
And as the Oratorian priests and brothers took on as their primary ministry the parish of Saint Boniface, so have the parishioners - from those who travel a handful of blocks to church, to those who travel from neighboring boroughs and even states - now proudly call themselves Oratorians.
With the marking in 2004 of the 150th anniversary of the parish church, we are reminded that our church has been and will always be made up of the community of people, the 'living stones', dedicated to building up and continually renewing this parish. We are reminded of our true challenge: to dedicate ourselves to the love of God and neighbor.
"Like living stones let yourselves be built on Christ as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood." (I Peter 2:15)
In this way we lay the foundation for the next 150 years, and give future generations a heritage to celebrate.