Jesuit University Recognizes NYC Church for Partnership, Ministry

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

BRONX, N.Y — Fordham University in New York recognized the ministry of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Midtown Manhattan and its partnership with the college at its third annual Sapientia et Doctrina Awards ceremony last weekend. The award was presented to Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and St. Francis of Assisi Pastor Jerome Massimino, OFM, at the university’s Rose Hill Campus here.

The Sapientia et Doctrina Award recognizes those who have contributed to both the mission of the school and renewal of the Church.

The Province has partnered with Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GSRRE) by holding several religious education classes at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Midtown Manhattan. This location makes it convenient for Manhattan commuters to attend classes.

Thanking the Saints
In his welcome remarks, Fordham President Fr. Joseph McShane, SJ, called the honorees “saints who we thank, honor and praise.”

“We at Fordham are grateful and inspired,” he said. “I thank the Franciscan friars for welcoming us into your building.”

“I was touched and gratified by the very generous public praise given to the friars and our ministry at 31st Street,” said John. “I was also impressed with the many guests at the celebration who came up to us and mentioned how they knew the friars through our various ministries in the New York area.”

In addition to their work with the university, the friars were recognized for their varied ministries to the community.

“In addition to liturgical and sacramental ministries to the neighborhood and the commuters who pass by its doors, St. Francis of Assisi maintains a breadline for the poor, a counseling center, an immigration center, a center for spirituality, and classes on many religious subjects,” read the ceremony’s program.

John and Jerome accepted the award on behalf of the many generations of Franciscan ministry in New York. They were surrounded by friars from the Province’s Manhattan community, including Michael Harlan, OFM, Provincial Secretary, Hugh Hines, OFM, Felix McGrath, OFM, and Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, director of adult education at the parish.

Jerome said: “It was a wonderful evening and I, along with the Provincial, was delighted to accept this award on behalf of the generations of faithful friars who have had the privilege of serving at New York City’s most beloved church.”

The alumni committee of the GSRRE chose All Saints Day for the celebration because it could think of no better feast day in the church calendar to celebrate the witness and contributions of its honorees, according to Fr. Anthony Ciorra, dean of the GSRRE.

In a message included in the evening’s program, Fr. Anthony said, “We gather to remember the saints who now live in glory, but also the saints among us who have made contributions to the church and society by embodying the mission of the GSRRE. Each, in his or her own way, has embodied the mission of our school and furthered it through the generous witness of their lives.”

fordham-lg2Seven Awards Given
The friars’ award was one of seven Sapientia et Doctrina Awards presented that evening.

Several hundred people attended the Nov. 1 ceremony, held at the McGinley Center Ballroom, that included a reception, a Vespers service, awards presentation, and dessert buffet.

Keynote speakers were New York City Police Detective Lieutenant Steven McDonald and his wife, Patti Ann, who were given the Gaudium et Spes Award. McDonald was paralyzed in 1986 during a shooting in Central Park.

In the 20 years since the injury, McDonald has become a much-heralded role model of strength and compassion, according to the awards program. He has addressed students throughout the area on the topics of violence and forgiveness, and he has advocated for peace initiatives.

“I found the evening to be very inspiring,” said Michael Murphy, director of hospitality for St. Francis of Assisi. “It was great to learn how much the ministries of our parish mean to people.”  Another staff member, Edward Trochimczuk, also attended Saturday’s event.

The photo above shows Kevin Tortorelli and Michael Harlan talking with Steven and Patti Ann McDonald.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.