The Emmaus Center: Historic Brooklyn Opera House to be New Arts Center in the Diocese of Brooklyn

Tags: Currents Arts, Craig Tubiolo, Evangelization, Monsignor Anthony Hernandez, Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, The Emmaus Center, Williamsburg

By Emily Drooby

A hidden piece of history in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was built in 1897. It’s one of the first opera houses in Brooklyn.

Soon people will fill these seats again as the Diocese of Brooklyn has restored this theater to its former glory.

Currents News was given an exclusive tour.

“It’s the original floor,” said Craig Tubiolo, “and that’s the selling point to a lot of people, that the history is still here.”

From the letters above the stage to the intricate carvings that surround the ceiling, historic details were still preserved. Such integrity brought the opera house back to its former glory. The process took five years to complete.

It’s part of a restoration project spearheaded by Msgr. Anthony Hernandez and supported by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

“We made the decision to use this as an anchor for the Catholic community in Williamsburg,” Msgr. Hernandez said.

Now, the opera house will not only be an anchor for the Catholic community, but also a tool as part of what will be a new cultural center for the diocese.

“Through the arts, we can evangelize to the local neighborhood,” said Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, who is the board chairman of the Emmaus Center.

The intention? To spread God’s word through the arts, in one of the city’s most creative neighborhoods – Williamsburg.

A community where art is more than a hobby or job, it’s a way of life.

Craig Tubiolo is the executive director.

“We’re going to reach people, where they are, and plant that seed and reignite the faith in this community in Williamsburg,” Craig said.

The center is located above the newly-dedicated Saints Peter and Paul church. The thought behind it is to evangelize the people of Williamsburg through something they hold dear.

“We’ll use the theater, the concerts, the arts, to draw people into the building and hopefully start a conversation about the faith as well,” said Msgr. Hernandez.

A unique approach catered to the neighborhood.

Msgr. Jamie says it couldn’t have happened without Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

“From the day he came to this diocese, he was always big on the new evangelization,” he said. “When he heard about the concept here, he was all for it and he put everything behind it.”

They plan to start holding events at The Emmaus center in fall of this year.