The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is an architectural landmark in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is located on 5th Avenue between 59th and 60th streets in the Sunset Park neighborhood and occupies about half the square block extending back to 6th Avenue, with the rectory and ancillary buildings occupying the remainder. The Basilica is visible for some distance, particularly from the Gowanus Expressway. It is popularly referred to by its initials, OLPH.
The basilica, founded and still staffed by the Redemptorists, is a Roman Catholic parish church of the Diocese of Brooklyn. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and serves as a pro-cathedral. The architect was Franz Joseph Untersee of Boston MA. As a double church, the basilica has two floors of worship, like the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi. The upstairs church was commonly only used to host weddings and special group services such as confirmation and communion, but has come back into more frequent use. For many years, mass in Spanish was held upstairs because of the large number of parishioners in attendance. The lower level is for smaller services. The first floor has been renovated many times in recent years. Its new modernized look is more inviting and welcoming to parishioners.
Because of its size, the Basilica hosts major diocesan services (e.g., ordinations) that would otherwise be held at Brooklyn's other, considerably smaller basilica, the Cathedral Basilica Of St. James. For the same reason, it also hosts sadder events; it is a venue-of-choice for the larger funerals of those who have fallen in the line of duty while in the service of the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department.
At the time of its completion, the parish was largely Irish in character (as evidenced by the inscriptions on the memorial windows). It was built on what was known as Irish Hill. Some of the family names include Collins, Brennan, Wade, Connors, Burns, McCaffrey, Healy, and Coffey. There is still an Irish presence, but today it is predominantly Hispanic and Chinese. The Basilica enjoys large attendance, particularly on holidays such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Christmas.