BRANT BEACH, N.J. — St. Francis Community Center, the ministry of St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Long Beach Island, is concluding its year-long 40th anniversary celebration with a gala on Sept. 28, 6 to 11 p.m., at the Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club in Beach Haven.
Tickets are on sale at the community center for $150 per person until Sept. 19. All proceeds benefit the programs of St. Francis Center.
The gala is all-inclusive and begins with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the beach. It also includes a buffet dinner, DJ music, a 50/50 raffle, and announcement of the winner of a $5,000 travel gift certificate.
Attendees will be able to view a “Then and Now” picture presentation and see how the center has evolved from its opening in 1972 to today’s diverse programs and activities. People can also explore its rich community history by browsing through scrapbooks capturing memories throughout the years, according to staff member Lori Dudek.
The center is a well-known fixture on Long Beach Island, and a true example of the Franciscan spirit, offering services and outreach where needed most in the community. It stands behind a “cultural statement” that reads: “The St. Francis Center recognizes a culturally diverse community and makes a commitment to the principles of multiculturalism as a means of understanding, accepting, valuing and supporting cultural diversity.”
Andrew Reitz, OFM, of New York City, who was a member of the team ministry of the Long Beach Island parish when the center was built and expanded, said the idea for the St. Francis Community Center began in 1968 when the friars saw a need for larger facilities so parishioners could meet socially and for recreation. It now offers educational, social, recreational and self-development activities and programs for all ages, said Connie Becraft, the center’s executive director.
The center is affiliated with the four churches that comprise St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Long Beach Island — St. Francis in Brant Beach, St. Thomas Aquinas in Beach Haven, St. Thomas of Villanova in Surf City and St. Clare in Loveladies. Stephen Kluge, OFM, is pastor, and the OFM friars serving are Kevin Daly, OFM, and James Scullion, OFM.
This is the third anniversary event this year, following a brunch in April and a luau in July. Information about the gala is available from Tina Haynes, special events coordinator at St. Francis Community Center at 609-494-8861 ext. 106, and from the website, www.stfranciscenterlbi.org.
—Wendy Healy, a freelance writer in Connecticut, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.