Church Ave. in Brooklyn Co-Named After Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Devout Catholic and Philanthropist

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By Emily Drooby

Faithful were singing in the streets as Church Ave. in Flatbush got a new name: Pierre Toussaint.

Priests, Haitian-Americans, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer came out to celebrate the co-naming, placing a spotlight on his incredible legacy.

“He means everything to the Haitian community” explained Father Hilaire Belizaire, coordinator of the Haitian Ministry in the Diocese Of Brooklyn

“It’s really about raising awareness, the life, what Pierre Toussaint means to us,” Father Belizaire said.

Born in what is now Haiti, Toussaint was brought to America as a slave. He eventually became a freed man.

“When I look at the life of Pierre Toussaint, I feel empowered and inspired,” explained NYC Councilman Mathieu Eugene.

An inspiration, one of the reasons Councilman Mathieu presented the co-naming.

“It doesn’t matter where you came from, what is the color of your skin or language you talk, when you come to a new country, you’re going to face challenges, and for, Pierre Toussaint who had been a slave, if we are talking about challenges, its more than challenges,” Mathieu said, “but guess what, he didn’t give up.”

Toussaint was a devout Catholic and he used his life to help others, especially orphans, who he even opened his own home up to.

“For those who are poor, for those who need shelter, for those who need food, he did exactly what Jesus said to do, be your brother’s keeper,” Mathieu said.

He helped everyone, even those who enslaved him, explained Msgr. Paul Jervis.

“Very devout, he attended daily Mass, among the people that he cared for, were the people that enslaved him,” said Msgr. Jervis. “It’s really unbelievable.”

Toussaint was declared venerable more than 20 years ago. That means he’s on the path to sainthood.

Now his name will forever look over the people of New York City, just like he did.