Pulse of The Parish: St. Bonaventure-St. Benedict The Moor

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

At one parish in Jamaica, the faithful have found unique and expressive ways to pray. 

For the past 25 years, they have been led by one dedicated parishioner in her vibrant Praise Dancing Ministry.

St. Bonaventure-St. Benedict the Moor, a merger of two separate churches, has a rich history of diverse congregations. Originally established in 1930 with mostly white parishioners, it later became home to black Catholics from Africa and the Caribbean due to the Great Migration.

Father Francis Asagba, former administrator of the parish, explains, “All of them bring their unique cultures to enrich the diversity of the parish.”

The culture of the congregation is deeply embedded in their faith, from the music during Mass to the dancing. Praise dancing has become a powerful form of worship for many parishioners, allowing them to express their feelings as part of praise.

Paulita DaCosta-Campbell, a parishioner with unwavering devotion, took a leap of faith 25 years ago when she started the Praise Dance Ministry at St. Bonaventure. However, this endeavor was met with mixed reactions. “There were some people that were really for it, loved it, wanted it – but there were some people who turned their face up – dancing in the Catholic church?! You know, like what is that?! We don’t do that here!” she recalls.

But Paulita emphasizes that praise dancing is not a performance; it’s a ministry. Dressed in their praise garments, the dancers tell stories through their movements, conveying the word of God and the message of the songs they dance to.

Paulita DaCosta-Campbell of St. Bonaventure-St. Benedict the Moor in Jamaica, Queens is The Pulse of The Parish.