By: Raymond Guarini
The proverbial alarm was sounded on Sunday, May 2nd, when during Mass at Most Precious Blood church, it was announced that there would be a meeting held on Tuesday, May 4th, to discuss the future of the church and its parish. With the recent sale of the church’s rectory in 2019 and the instant rise of condominiums in its place, the parishioners frantically spread the word to friends and relatives via phone calls, text and e-mails. Particularly in the immediate know was the president of the San Rocco society as well as other societies and confraternities that call the aging church home.
As concern rattled the Italian American community surrounding the church, social media posts overwhelmingly showed up in news feeds in a blitz of support for the Italian American community’s oldest remaining enclave church.
Stephen LaRocca, President of the San Rocco Society of Potenza, was extremely helpful in providing insight into the situation that is still unraveling. According to Mr. LaRocca, it is not exactly clear why the church would be closed and he remains optimistic about the church’s future. The San Rocco Society’s feast is held in August each year and is celebrating its 132nd this summer; however, the procession has not always been held out of Most Precious Blood church in Little Italy as the procession was always held out of San Giuseppe church on Monroe Street in the “Two Bridges” Italian enclave adjacent to Little Italy. San Giuseppe was closed by the Diocese 8 years ago. Mr. LaRocca is rightfully concerned about the status of the situation so that the 2021 procession can be planned accordingly after never missing a single year since its inception, even in 2020 during the Great Pandemic.
Mr. LaRocca and his executive committee for the San Rocco Society of Potenza work feverishly all year to be able to coordinate their patron Saint’s feast Day and procession, which begins with a mass held in the Saint’s honor at Most Precious Blood church. The same preparation occurs each year for the Feast Day of San Gennaro. Most Precious Blood church is the Shrine Church of San Gennaro in the United States.
Perhaps due to the expectation of huge numbers showing up yesterday amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Diocese canceled the meeting. No other information was given by the parties we contacted in regards to the reason why the meeting was canceled or when it will be rescheduled, if at all.
Most Precious Blood was built in 1904 for the booming population of Italian immigrants in lower Manhattan and is the sister church to Old Saint Patrick’s Basilica, one of the oldest churches on the continent. Two other noteworthy societies that belong to this church are The Craco Society and the San Angelo Society.
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