This Sunday, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will be at St. Agnes Church to celebrate the 11 AM Mass in French as a show of solidarity with the French people following the terrorist attack in Nice yesterday. Everyone is invited to attend this Mass to pray for the victims and an end to violence all over the world.
One hundred and four years after a Catholic priest chose to stay on the R.M.S. Titanic and minister to those doomed to die in the infamous mid-Atlantic shipwreck, St. Paul’s Church on Court St. honored his legacy with a plaque.
The Cobble Hill church, which is now joined with St. Agnes to form one parish, was where the requiem Mass for the British priest was held. He was on his way to New York to officiate at his brother’s wedding when an iceberg brought doom to the ship he shared with more than 2,000 other people. More than 1,500 people died. Read More
Jesuit Father Frank Browne, 1880-1960, became a prominent documentary photographer and a much-decorated chaplain in the British army in World War I. A collection of his photographs, “Father Browne’s Titanic Album” has been reprinted to mark the centenary of the demise of the massive liner, which was constructed in Belfast, Ireland, and was believed to be unsinkable. More than 1,500 people died when it sank April 15, 1912.
While onboard, the self-taught photographer managed to obtain pictures of the first-class accommodation and dining rooms. He also captured the gymnasium, the library and passengers enjoying a stroll on the promenade, as well as many passengers in third class, recording some of those who would later perish in the freezing waters of the Atlantic. He took the last image of the Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith. Father Browne’s images of the ship’s accommodation and passengers have been pored over by maritime historians, engineers and filmmakers seeking answers to a tragedy that still grips the public’s imagination.
Titanic Priest Memorialized At Brooklyn Parish Currents, April 15, 2016 Fr. Thomas Byles was en route to Brooklyn when he perished aboard the Titanic. St. Paul Church in Cobble Hill unveils a plaque in his honor 104 years after his tragic death. Currents Correspondent Katie Breidenbach reports on the connection between this parish and the heroic priest and speaks with the plaque’s donors, Cady and Benjamin Crosby.
Father Thomas Byles was 42 when he boarded the Titanic with his second-class ticket and portable altar stone. He had made arrangements with Captain Edward Smith to secure space on the ocean liner to celebrate Mass. Even on vacation a priest is never off duty, he knew, but the Catholic convert would have it no other way.
At 11:40 Father Byles was on the deck clutching his breviary and praying Night Prayer when the Titanic struck the iceberg.
Father Byles met the haunting sights, sounds and smells with an otherworldly peace. “A few around us became very excited,” Ellen Mocklare, a young Irish woman, later told reporters, “and then it was that the priest again raised his hand and instantly they were calm once more. The passengers were immediately impressed by the absolute self-control of the priest.”
Survivors said Father Byles was offered a lifeboat twice but refused it, determined to minister to passengers in their hour of greatest need, even though it would cost him his life. He heard confessions, gave absolution, offered blessings and led prayers, including the Hail Mary, whose back-and-forth recitation provided a steady measure amid chaos. The words “Holy Mary” rang out loud and clear. Read More…
Fr Thomas Byles, I am convinced, was a holy man. And miracles are already being attributed to his intercession. When I heard the priest’s story, and was shown his picture and the stained-glass window dedicated to him in the small church, I thought more people should know about him. I asked whether anyone had taken his Cause to Rome to start the canonisation process. I was surprised to hear no one had.
His younger brother William had also converted to Catholicism and had moved to America to run a rubber business. He asked Fr Byles to officiate at his wedding. So arrangements were made for the priest to travel to New York. He was initially supposed to travel on another White Star liner, but changed at the last minute to travel on the Titanic. His second-class ticket (number 244310) cost £13. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton on April 10, 1912.
On the morning of Sunday April 14, Fr Byles celebrated Mass and preached a homily which, according to the Evening World, was on the need to have a “lifeboat in the shape of religious consolation at hand in case of spiritual shipwreck”. The following night, the Titanic struck the iceberg.
After the collision, Fr Byles helped the third-class passengers up the stairs and into the boats. He also heard confessions, and prayed and sang with those who couldn’t find a place on the lifeboats. (He had been offered a seat but refused.) Eyewitness Bertha Moran later recalled: “Continuing the prayers, he led us to where the boats were being lowered. Helping the women and children in, he whispered to them words of comfort and encouragement.” Read More
On Thursday, April 14th at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church on the corner of Congress and Court Streets at 6 p.m., a plaque will be unveiled by Monsignor Joseph Nugent commemorating Reverend Thomas Byles (26 February 1870 – 15 April 1912), one of the passengers aboard the RMS Titanic, who perished on the doomed ocean liner 104 years ago. Fr. Byles was on his way to officiate his brother’s wedding mass.
The unveiling will be followed by a brief ceremony and an account of Father Byles’ effort to save lives on that faithful day by Benjamin and Cady Crosby, a brother and sister team who established Titanic Heroes, a non-for-profit organization to honor heroic passengers.
“Fr. Byles immediately rushed down to those in steerage (third class), who didn’t know what was going on. He brought many up to the deck, and when the order ‘Women and children first!’ was given, he was instrumental in getting as many women and children into the lifeboats as possible. Fr. Byles was himself offered a seat in a lifeboat twice, since he was a priest, but he declined each time, choosing instead to remain with those on deck. He went down with the ship and his body was never recovered. ” (Source: Pardon Me For Asking)
Fr. Byles has been portrayed in films about the disaster three times. In the 1979 television movie S.O.S. Titanic, he was portrayed by Matthew Guinness. In the 1997 film, Titanic, he was portrayed by James Lancaster, reciting Revelation 21:4. Richard Basehart plays a thinly-disguised Byles in the 1953 film. His story is featured in a book written by Cady Crosby entitled A Titanic Hero: Thomas Byles. The book documents Byles’ early life, his years in ministry and his final hours onboard the RMS Titanic. (Wikipedia)
NYC Mass Mob will be at St. Agnes on October 18th @ 9:15 am!
St. Agnes will host the next NYC Mass Mob on October 19th at 9:15 am. The movement is intended to inspire people to go to Mass, enfranchise people in their communities, and stir the passions of those who seek to be involved with something greater than themselves. Please be sure to join us for a celebration of our parish.
Unangry Mob Looks to Revitalize Churches Currents, June 2, 2014 Mass Mob, an effort to revitalize Catholic churches, is in New York City, and its first stop was St. Matthew Church in Crown Heights. That’s where we find Currents correspondent Michelle Powers, who learned more about the growing movement.