Let there be light: Brooklyn Diocese lights 27-foot Christmas tree at Grand Army Plaza

A 27-foot Christmas tree decorated with 16,000 LED lights stands in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Grand Army Plaza on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

The most wonderful time of the year continues!

The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn officially kicked off the Christmas season on Wednesday, Dec. 8 with the lighting of a sprawling 27-foot tree at Grand Army Plaza.

The borough’s new bishop, Robert Brennan, presided over the lighting of 16,000 LED lights — a sign of peace, prosperity and hope for a brighter future, the Brooklyn diocese said Thursday.

“As we look at the Christmas Tree and Nativity set before us, we see signs of tremendous hope and that is something that always has to be inside us,” said Bishop Brennan. “We are a people of hope and if the pandemic taught us anything, it is to look out for one another and build up one another.”

Bishop Robert Brennan speaks at the annual Diocesan Christmas Tree Lighting at Grand Army Plaza.Photo by Paul Frangipane

At the lighting, Brennan said he was “living the dream.”

“One of my happy memories was Christmas in the city and now I’m living it,” he said before blessing the diocese’s Nativity scene. “I’m living the dream and I’m living that dream with all of you.”

The new bishop, who was formally installed on Nov. 30, also said he “got a kick” out of the life buzzing around Grand Army Plaza during the ceremony.

“We’re telling a story in the midst of where life is lived,” Brennan told the crowd. “God came to be part of everyday life and you can’t get any more everyday than right here in Grand Army Plaza.”

The tree lighting ceremony, held each year by the religious institution, often play host to musical performances by local Catholic school children. This year’s festivities featured a performance by the St. Saviour’s Catholic High School Choir, which performed “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” following the bishop’s blessing.

The St. Saviour’s Catholic High School Choir sings for a crowd at the lighting.Photo by Paul Frangipane

Monsignor David Cassato, who serves as the diocese’s vicar of catholic schools, applauded the all-girls school in Park Slope while boasting “tremendous” growth in enrollment across the institutions Brooklyn and Queens schools.

“[These schools] are, I always say, the hidden gem of our diocese,” he said.

“It is truly an awesome sight to see a Christmas tree standing tall at the crossroads of Brooklyn in Grand Army Plaza,” John Quaglione, deputy press secretary for the Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement. “This Christmas tree is a chance for the Diocese of Brooklyn and DeSales Media to bring the joy of Christmas to our corner of the world.”

Bishop Robert Brennan looks at the newly-lit Christmas tree in Grand Army Plaza.Photo by Paul Frangipane

The joyful celebration came just over a week after the plaza also hosted a giant menorah for Hanukkah, and as neighborhoods across the borough mark the start of another holiday season with lightings galore.

The massive tree, located in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, will stand until Jan. 2.

Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane