If you live anywhere near Brooklyn, you'll have to check out the new Emmaus Center which celebrated its grand opening on December 13th with a "Spirit of Christmas" concert featuring Matt Maher and retired NYPD officer Danny Rodriguez, known to New Yorkers as "The Singing Policeman."
Housed in what was once the Williamsburg Opera House (opened in 1897), the venue has been restored after falling into disrepair and will be a center of light for Jesus Christ. Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello had the privilege of naming the center and felt that the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-32) captured the spirit of the center. He wants to bring people from the streets of Brooklyn to Jesus Christ using the arts: theater, concerts, movies, exhibitions, lectures, etc. He hopes that people's hearts will be "set on fire" like those of the disciples when Jesus joined them as they were walking along after the resurrection.
For a history of how the Emmaus Center came about, check out my interview with Msgr. Jamie, as he likes to be called.
The opening festivities were well received by all who filtered into the over 600 seats of the 100-year-old opera house, restored to its former glory. The beauty of the space was an apt setting for the beauty of the concert. After the opening by former NYPD officer and 9/11 first responder, Danny Rodriguez, Matt Maher took the stage to much acclaim. Yes, there were Christmas songs but he reminded us that we were still in the Season of Advent and sang songs with themes from the four weeks of Advent. Evangelization at the Emmaus Center has begun!
Matt Maher performs at the grand opening concert for the Emmaus Center, Brooklyn. © photo by Sr. Hosea Rupprecht.
On hand for the celebration was the newly installed leader of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Robert J. Brennan, greeting everyone and offering the opening prayer.
Another highlight of the evening was the unveiling of a sculpture entitled "Invictus" by artist Lou Sandoval. Inspired by the 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, Sandoval sought to capture in bronze, the moment when Jesus took his first breath after the resurrection. The beauty of the piece reflects what the Emmaus Center is all about: Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, king of the universe and master of our hearts.
"Invictus" sculpture by Lou Sandoval © Photo by Sr. Hosea Rupprecht.
For more information about the Emmaus Center, please visit emmausbrooklyn.org.