Parishioners in Brooklyn are anticipating the elevation of their Regina Pacis Church as a basilica, with the dedication set to take place on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
“They’ve been admiring the beauty of this church for the longest time, and to see it recognized like this by the Vatican and by the diocese, is a cause of great joy and excitement for the people,” the church’s pastor, Monsignor Ronald T. Marino told EWTN News Nov. 27.
“The people feel that after the 62 years since the church was built…this is an honor they were not expecting, to become one of the Pope’s churches.”
Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn petitioned the Congregation for Divine Worship last year to make Regina Pacis a minor basilica, “out of respect for the cultural tradition of this church, the cultural importance,” Msgr. Marino related.
“It’s artistically beautiful and important, it has great significance for the Italian immigrants who built it as a vow for peace in the world, to protect their sons and daughters who were at war at the time.”In May of 1942, the parishioners of St. Rosalia, Regina Pacis’ sister church, vowed to build a shrine to Our Lay Queen of Peace for the safe return of their soldiers who were on the battlefields of World War II and for a just peace.
Within ten years of that vow, Regina Pacis was dedicated, a testament to the dedication of Italian immigrants of the time to the Blessed Virgin.
“To be able to recognize the fact that immigrants built this from their own sweat and generosity, is a major affirmation of the role immigrants have played in the diocese from the beginning,” Msgr. Marino said.
Today the basilica is home to diverse new immigrants, especially from China. The parish has Masses in English, Chinese, Italian, and Spanish.
“As part of our evangelization efforts, we’ve been for a couple of years reaching out to the Chinese, and the response has been tremendous, so much so that we began a Chinese mass every week…the Chinese people feel very very welcome here.”
The immigrants who built the church in 1949-51 “gave their jewelry, they gave diamonds and wedding rings and bracelets, you name it,” Msgr. Marino said.
With these precious donations, the pastor at the time made two beautiful tiaras which were made to crown the image of the Queen of Peace with the Christ child which adorns the sanctuary.
“We will put the crowns up for the basilica dedication,” said Msgr. Marino. “We usually put them up for Mothers’ Day only…but the fact that in the building of the church, the people gave their very own jewelry and wedding rings, I think that’s important … and a beautiful thing.”