Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Small Churches - St. Sylvester's

   Escaping the same devastation caused by the creation of the Staten Island Expressway that forced St. Simon's Episcopal Church to relocate to Richmond Road, St. Sylvester's R.C. Church and its attached shrine survived in their original location at the corner of Clove Road and Targee Street.  It's a pretty neighborhood church that, unfortunately, suffers from the noise and exhaust of all the highway traffic just outside its doors.  Still, it escaped Robert Moses' assault.
   The only Catholic church I was at all familiar with growing up, was Our Lady of Good Counsel on Victory Boulevard near Silver Lake.  It's an ugly example of the awful modern architecture that all denominations seemed to think was a good idea at the time.  Just look at All Saints Episcopal, Olivet Presbyterian and Zion Lutheran for other examples of this drab ugliness.  I'll take the wood and stained glass simplicity of this style of church over any of those testaments to dioceses and boards of elders and church councils gone wrong.
  The church suffered the loss of its school this past summer in the Great School Closure that saw 27 schools in Archdiocese of New York cease operations.  Parochial schools have been taking severe hits for years now and the expansion of charter schools (essentially private style schools without the tuition) has been a stab in the gut to them.  
   Still, this little church persists and provides a reminder of smaller, quieter times on the Island.  There have been minor changes; the steeple's been enclosed and the wood shingle on it covered.  It remains an attractive place.  I do wonder how many people visit a grotto that once existed in just the quiet shadows of Grymes and Emerson Hills and today sits under the cacophonous one of the Expressway as well? 

The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

   The grotto in older days seems to have had a much wilder, more natural surroundings.  Today it sits on a perfectly manicured lawn with precisely trimmed hedges next to it.  Not an improvement in my eyes.


Alex Rosati said...

This was where I was baptized!! Alex R.

Franky G said...

I was married there..great post Fletcher