Hungarian Church’s Fair Celebrates Many Cultures

Rebecca Doel Around the Province

NEW YORK — St. Stephen of Hungary Church on East 82nd Street here continued a more than 35-year tradition this month with its annual street fair. The festivities, including a raffle, live music and Hungarian food, raised $15,000 for the parish.

The Sept. 19 fair began at 10 a.m. and concluded at 5:30 p.m. with a vigil Mass. The parish closed down 82nd Street between York and 1st Avenues for the event that included a variety of outside vendors.

Grand prize at the raffle this year was $2,000. It is a significant fundraiser for the parish where Angelus Gambatese, OFM, is pastor, according to Jayne Porcelli, pastoral associate at St. Stephen. A new fundraiser at the fair this year was a statue of St. Jude displayed on a table on which passers-by pinned money. This fundraising idea was borrowed from Italian tradition.

St. Stephen parishioner and member of the Provincial Office staff Carolyn Croke volunteered at the St. Jude table. She said she enjoyed seeing people donate $1 to $20, say a short prayer and receive a St. Jude card and medal that could then be blessed by a friar.

Jacques LaPointe, OFM, arranged the afternoon’s entertainment provided by an African gospel choir, which raised money for scholarships to St. Stephen of Hungary School. More than 50 parishioners, organized by Betty Gyenis, volunteered their time and energy to make the event a success. Parish t-shirts, designed by the young Hungarian group of the parish, were also available for purchase.

The fair, co-chaired by parishioners Donald and Marianne Kroski, also included boutique tables of donated of books and house wares and traditional Hungarian food made and sold by members of the parish’s Mothers Club and St. Clare Altar Society. For the first time, attendees were able to buy fresh produce from a farmers market.

The parish was established in 1902 by Hungarian priest Fr. Lászlo Perényi. In 1922, the parish was entrusted to the Franciscans of Hungary under the leadership of Fr. Bonaventure Peéri, OFM. Holy Name Province assumed responsibility of the flourishing parish during the Great Depression.

Throughout its history, St. Stephen of Hungary Parish has ministered to Hungarian immigrants. It now serves non-Hungarian, English-speaking parishioners as well.

Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.