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BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Jaime DeJesus
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Jaime DeJesus
Our Lady of Perpetual Church Parish celebrates 125 years.

It’s been around well over a century and is still going strong.

For the next year, Sunset Park’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish is commemorating its 125th Jubilee Celebration with a series of masses, events, and parties.

The landmark anniversary means a lot to the diverse community. On Tuesday, September 26, the parish celebrated International Day and recently held a reunion of many former members of the church.

Reverend James Gilmour stressed the significance of the parish being around for the community for so many years.

“I call OLPH a village because people so identify with it over the many years,” he said. “It’s like the center of their lives for worship, school, not just grammar school but high school and the sports. There have been all different kinds of activities so it’s been the center of so many people’s lives, the center of family life. People are born, they grow up, they get married, they bring their children and become part of the community with weddings and funerals. Those are all very special moment in people’s lives.”

Gilmour said that the church has stood the test of time. “I think because it’s such a big place, it’s really been a gathering place for so many activities over the years and it’s always been an immigrant community,” he said. “It continues to be a very vibrant immigrant community in Sunset Park. Our largest community is the Hispanic community. Also we have a very active and growing Chinese Catholic community. The old parishioners also, their children and grandchildren are in the parish. We have a Vietnamese community also so it’s very much part of our identity as an immigrant community. We bring all the groups together. It’s not parallel communities within the same building. We come together as one worshipping community.”

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Gilmour discussed the celebrations the parish has hosted beginning in September that included a mass and a party. The mass was in four languages and flags from all the countries that are represented in the community were displayed.

There was also a fiesta at the school gym that included folk dances from several of the different communities, like Irish, Hispanic and Asian.

In addition, a reunion was held on Saturday, October 28.

“We invited people who used to be in the parish community but moved away,” he said. “It was a mass and dinner dance and a wonderful gathering of people who hadn’t seen each other for so many years, so people were catching up.  It’s like they were meeting their neighbors from around the neighborhood all over again, remembering old times. A lot of phone numbers and emails were exchanged so they could be in contact once again with old friends.”

The anniversary events have just begun as the parish plans to hold several events, such as a celebration for couples who got married in the church and a block party next summer. The commemoration will end with a big celebration with the bishop in September, 2018.

“There has never been a lull,” Gilmour said. “This has always been an active parish and I think the changes in the neighborhood have been difficult but the parish community has known how to navigate through the difficulties that come with change and preparation and demographics. Our faith gives us opportunity to help with faith even in midst of difficult things.”

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Lisa Amanda November 16, 2017 / 11:17AM

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