Holy Name Parish Enjoys Enhancements, Events

Jocelyn Thomas Features

NEW YORK — “Very successful” is how staff members of Holy Name of Jesus Church on West 96th Street here describe their recent fundraisers. The parish is pleased to have exceeded its fundraising goal.

Over the past several months, the parish has raised thousands of dollars through a bazaar and block party, as well as by its participation in the Bicentennial Campaign of the Archdiocese of New York. On Sept. 28, hundreds gathered near the church on West 96th Street for fellowship, popular food and live music at the annual block party.

Despite the rain, the block party was great, said staff member and parishioner Sophia Goitia. “It is a nice time for all of us to get together — staff, parishioners and neighborhood people,” she added. 

Ethnic food and baked goods were sold and face-painting was offered for children.  Live Santana-themed music was provided by a favorite neighborhood band — Taboo. 

There was a bounty of raffle prizes this year, with the first prize being a 42-inch high-definition plasma TV, two second prize winners of $500 in cash, and several gift certificates to neighborhood restaurants.
“Our block party is always a fun-filled event for the young and old alike,” said Goitia.  “It provides us with an opportunity for our wonderful diverse community to come together and enjoy a day with neighbors, friends and parishioners.”

It also serves to help raise needed day-to-day operating funds for Holy Name Church and the Franciscan Community Center, said Goitia.

In August, the Franciscan Community Center’s Senior Citizen Program sponsored a Summer Fundraiser Bazaar in the same neighborhood. The event raised nearly $1,240. Fresh-cooked Spanish food was among the refreshments sold. St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Breast Service Clinic participated in the bazaar.

Campaign Paves the Way for Improvements
Holy Name of Jesus also participated in the Archdiocese of New York Bicentennial Campaign.

The most recent capital projects were the result of the parish’s participation in the 2006 Archdiocesan Bicentennial Campaign, Pastor Daniel Kenna, OFM, said.

“It was a very successful campaign and we are now in our second year of a five-year cycle,” said Heather Dilbeck, parish director of finance and administration.

“The monies pledged in that campaign were split 80-20 between the parish and the archdiocese,” Dan said. “Eighty percent will eventually come back to Holy Name to complete needed improvements to our facilities.”

“The parish submitted a wish list of improvements to the archdiocese for approval,” Dan said, adding that he was not yet here in New York during the campaign. “The most pressing needs were identified and cost estimates obtained.  These were then published to the parish as an incentive to those making pledges.”

Under the direction of former pastor, Francis Gunn, OFM, Holy Name exceeded its targeted fundraising goal of $842,000, Dan said.

The first project — a $55,000 replacement of the public address system in the church — was completed last fall. The second — a $290,000 redesign of the lighting system in the church — is nearing completion. 

“During the summer months, with our front doors open, people actually come in off the street to visit, remarking that they feel drawn in by the light. The natural beauty of the architecture has been highlighted in a way that makes for much more lively participation in the liturgy. And it helps that you can now actually read your worship aid and see what you are being invited to sing,” Dan said.

The final project will begin soon which is the addition of an electronic lift to the entrance of St. Mary of the Angels Chapel. The chapel is in the basement of the church and is inaccessible to those with special needs. 

Approximately 50 percent of the dollars pledged to the Bicentennial Campaign has been collected,  according to Dan. The installation of the handicap lift will depend on parishioner’s faithfulness in fulfilling campaign pledges.

“The approved wish list from the archdiocese also included needed repairs to our organ and stained glass windows, and installation of air conditioning in the church,” he added.

“Thanks to the outpouring of generosity of our wonderful parishioners, we have been able to make some long desired improvements to strengthen the quality of the ministry shared at Holy Name,” said the pastor, who relocated in 2006 to Manhattan from North Carolina. 

Updating the Parish Communications 
The parish is also in the process of enhancing its Web site, Dilbeck said, to make it easier to navigate.

“We also are trying to update some pictures,” she said. “We have an event calendar that can display events in several places, including the home page and on the corresponding drop-down menu. We will be using a content management system, so it will be easily maintained.”

The Web site project is being managed by Dilbeck with assistance from Jackie Espinol, assistant to the pastor.  Jackie, known as an expert at multi-tasking, was also overseeing a reformatting of the parish bulletin.  “We are trying to ensure all three languages are being used in all our parish communications.”

The parish team hopes to roll the new site in a few weeks; the new bulletin made its debut the first weekend of October. 

In photo above, Fr. Dan greets Holy Name parishioners after Mass.

 Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.