This Day in Brooklyn Catholic History

On this day in 1905, the first Mass was celebrated at Epiphany Church in Williamsburg, a neighborhood whose Catholic population was growing rapidly. Within a few years it had fourteen parishes within walking distance of each other. The church building, formerly the Universalist Church of All Saints, had been purchased for $47,000. In 1906, a parochial school opened under the Sisters of St. Joseph, who ran it until its closing in 1973. At the start, the parishioners were predominantly Irish, Italian and Polish. By the 1940’s the neighborhood was home to the first waves of immigration from Puerto Rico. By way of coincidence, the Feast of the Epiphany (El Día de los Reyes) is a major celebration for Puerto Rican Catholics, and Epiphany parish soon became a center of Hispanic Catholic life in Wiliamsburg. (This 1950’s photo shows a ceremony held by Las Hijas de Maria in the church.) In 2007, the parish was merged with nearby Saints Peter & Paul parish.

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