And so it was that last Saturday, with a spring in our step and prayerful intentions in mind, we exited the F train at Carroll Street in Brooklyn and began our journey back in time.
We were focused on visiting 580 Henry Street, the old convent, where a few of us spent many happy, fun filled years teaching and serving the immigrants in this Italian community. We stood in front of 580 Henry Street, a beautiful brownstone, and looked up at the four floors above us and remembered. The first floor was the chapel; second floor the community room; third and fourth floors were the bedrooms. We laughed at how often we climbed the winding stairs and marveled at how some of the bedrooms had a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty. We wondered how all twenty-two Sisters could possibly squeeze into the small chapel.
On we trudged to our local parish, Sacred Hearts and St. Stephens, on the corner of Summit and Hicks Streets. “Wow”, we said in unison. “The church looks the same.” Statues of saints lined the sides of the church and red, votive candles flickered where fervent parishioners prayed that a special grace be granted to them. The windows were stained glass, one of them of Mother Cabrini in a place of honor toward the front of the church. This Italian community of Carroll Gardens has a special devotion to Mother Cabrini who walked these same streets, meeting and greeting newly arrived Italian immigrants, decades ago. We could almost feel Mother’s presence.
In addition to the treasures inside the church, we were fortunate to be able to admire the newly dedicated statue of Mother Cabrini, sitting right outside. Mother is with two young children, a boy and a girl and she seems content in their presence. We placed some flowers at Mother’s feet, took pictures and spent a moment or two in silent prayer
before we moved on.
This time we moved on down Henry Street toward Sackett Street, hoping to find a place to sit in the shade and eat something refreshing. Even walking these few blocks was a trip down memory lane. So many of the old brownstones looked the same, but in between these buildings we could spot some new construction that appeared very modern, almost out of place. And surprisingly, the streets were quiet for a Saturday afternoon.
Finally, we spotted an eatery, just what we were looking for. Farmacy is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor on the corner of Henry and Sackett Streets. We had to sit outside because sections inside were closed off because of Covid restrictions. Nonetheless, the outside was delightfully, cool and a perfect spot for enjoying hot dogs and ice cream sundaes topped with whipped cream and a cherry. “Ah”, we said.
The hours flew by and we each had a long trip home. So, off we went heading back toward the Carroll Street subway station and the F train. We admired the lovely brownstones and colorful gardens. And the stoops! Where else can you find stoops like these? We agreed, Carroll Gardens is a special place.
As we said good-bye to one another, Sister Christine Marie, Anne, Marilyn, Michael, Kate and I, we agreed that the day was perfect and we planned to make this pilgrimage a yearly, tradition.
~submitted by Marianne McGowan, CLM