St. Jude Roman Catholic Church held a dedication ceremony for its recently refurbished St. Jude shrine and the area surrounding the shrine. The project began in 2014 and was made possible after $1.4 million was raised by parishioners and community members.
According to Fr. John Ryan, of St. Jude Roman Catholic Church, St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and desperate cases. The shrine for St. Jude dates back to 1949 and is one of very few shrines dedicated to St. Jude in our area. When asked, Bishop Robert Coyle could think of only one other statue of St. Jude on Long Island.
“There’s a statue in Holbrook but nothing like this, done to this scale, anywhere else, I don’t think,” he said.
After serving the community for many years, the shrine fell into disrepair and by 2014, there was a plan in place to renovate it. The church raised $1.4 million to do the project—part of which was to give the original, still-in-use St. Jude statue a bigger and more fitting home. Fr. Ryan described the old shrine as a small and “shed-like” structure.
Isabella Mancini, the architect who worked on the refurbishment project, was present at the dedication ceremony and said that the shrine was dilapidated and needed a facelift. The renovation project included a major cleaning, raising the roof, installing electric flameless candles, and salvaging two stained-glass windows that were part of the old shrine church.
“We tried to preserve the past by using the pavilion in the same footprint as where the shrine church was,” she said, in another example of preservation in their revitalization efforts.
When it came time to work on some of the cosmetic features of the shrine, Mancini chose to use earth tones like brown and green in an effort to give the building a natural feeling, but also because browns wear better than other colors when exposed to the sun. Green is the color of St. Jude, as incorporated in the bright-green flameless candles next to the statue, a color chosen by Ryan.
Mancini said her hopes for people going into the refurbished shrine are that they feel solace, peace and hope for the future. “I hope it fills the need at the moment for them to know that somebody else is out there watching over them,” she said.
Bob Vecchio, trustee for the church, explained that the refurbished shrine could bring Catholics from all over to our area, as they look for guidance and to have prayers answered.
“There are very few shrines to St. Jude. People from all over come to light a candle, say a prayer and ask for healing on his behalf,” he said.
Bishop Coyle said he stopped at a shrine for St. Jude 25 years ago while on a trip to Baltimore and later, his prayers were answered. Baltimore is home to the nationwide center of St. Jude devotionals. In an effort to share more about who he was, Coyle explained more about St. Jude’s life at the dedication ceremony, saying that St. Jude and Jesus were not only good friends, but also relatives. Also, both were from Galilee. Jude was also one of the 12 original apostles. In The Bible, Jude is also known as Judas, Thaddeus and Lebbaeus.
In attendance at the ceremony were elected officials, including Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, Brookhaven town supervisor Ed Romaine, New York State Sen. Alexis Weik and Suffolk County Legis. Jim Mazzarella. Also present were parishioners and members of the greater community.
Also part of the revitalization was the area surrounding the St. Jude shrine, including a Stations of the Cross, created as part of an Eagle Scout project, as well as an open-air pavilion and a grotto shrine to the Blessed Mother and memorial to our country’s war dead.
According to Ryan, the shrine is open to all members of the public daily from 7:30 a.m. until dark.