Diocese of Brooklyn’s Christmas Tree Lights Up The Sky at Grand Army Plaza

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

GRAND ARMY PLAZA — With the flip of a switch, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s official Christmas tree came to life on Wednesday, Dec. 14, with 16,000 twinkling lights shining brightly against the evening sky.

The 28-foot-tall Norway Spruce, covered with those glistening LED lights, stands majestically beneath the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza.

Bishop Robert Brennan, who led the countdown to the tree lighting, marveled at the sight of the tree, as well as the life-sized Nativity beneath it, sitting at the center of the busy Brooklyn traffic circle.

“And in the middle of all this busyness, we’re proclaiming the joy of Christmas,” he told The Tablet.

Before the ceremony, which was hosted by Currents News Anchor Christine Persichette, a crowd gathered at Grand Army Plaza to see how the tree would look when the lights were finally turned on.

“I just happened to be coming by, and I saw this tree. So I decided to stay and watch,” Jacqueline Lionel said. “I love anything that has to do with Jesus Christ and the day He was born. I guess you can say I’m here to honor Him.”

The theme of this year’s tree can be summed up in one word: Unity.

The multi-colored lights are meant to display the diversity in the Diocese of Brooklyn, which is known as “The Diocese of Immigrants” and where Mass is celebrated in 33 different languages. Shining brightly together, the lights also symbolize the unity in the diocese as well as among Catholics worldwide who are united in the belief that Jesus Christ came into the world to be the savior of all men and women.

“The tree, lit up in the brightly different colors, is really a sign for us of both unity and diversity,” Bishop Brennan said. “Unity means that with our differences, all the different ways that we approach life [and] cultural backgrounds, there is something that pulls us together. And that, for us as Catholic Christians, is our faith.”

The call for unity comes at a time when the nation is divided over many issues, including immigration and the question of how to handle the number of undocumented immigrants who cross over every day from Mexico to enter the U.S.

The tree lighting ceremony, held against the backdrop of music performed by the choir of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, was sponsored by DeSales Media Group, the technology and communications ministry of the diocese and parent company of The Tablet.

It also featured a prayer for unity from Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Octavio Cisneros, and Father Alonzo Cox.

“May all of us, created in the image and likeness of God, continue to grow in unity as one body, one spirit, one church,” said Father Cox, the director of The Liturgy Office for the diocese. Bishop Mroziewski read a portion of the prayer in Polish, and Bishop Cisneros recited a part in Spanish.

The tree, purchased by the diocese from a family-owned farm in Pennsylvania, was brought to Brooklyn a week before the lighting ceremony. It was cut down, transported to the borough, and set up at Grand Army Plaza by Torsilieri Inc., the company that provides the same service for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

Msgr. Sean Ogle, vicar for clergy for the diocese and chairman of the board of DeSales Media Group, said prayer is important, particularly now.

“Above all,” he said, “we know we need the power of prayer to light up the world’s darkness.”