NEW YORK — A small but lively congregation of nearly 100 people participated in a special Mass this weekend to mark the withdrawal of the Franciscan friars from the church on East 129th Street, where they have served since 2002.
The Mass was the usual All Saints Parish Sunday celebration at 10 a.m., said Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, who concelebrated the Mass. Steven Pavignano, OFM, pastor of All Saints for the past three years, presided. “Benedict Taylor, OFM, and I concelebrated, and I also preached,” Dominic said. Francis Kim, OFM, and Glenn Humphrey, OFM, also attended.
“The small but lively congregation included some sisters, both Franciscan Handmaids of Mary, whose motherhouse is in the neighborhood, and several Sisters of the Atonement, who minister in the area,” Dominic said. “My homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi focused on the theme ‘do this in memory of me,’ moving from memory to hope and transformation into Christ.”
“After communion, representatives of the parish thanked Steven and all the friars for their ministry and presence in the parish for the past nine years, and I extended our thanks to the parishioners for their welcome to the friars,” Dominic said. “The Mass concluded with the seldom-used great organ of the church bellowing out a rousing closing hymn — ‘For All the Saints.’”
Although the friars of Holy Name Province have been serving All Saints only for the past nine years, a small time in a parish history that goes back to 1879, the Franciscan presence in Harlem goes back to the work of Ben Taylor in the 1960s and that of the Franciscan sisters several decades before that, Dominic said.
With the closing of their school last week and the withdrawal of the friars’ presence now, these are sad days for the people, but their upbeat spirit was reflected in a hearty reception that followed in the school hall, Dominic said. Neil O’Connell, OFM, who was the first Holy Name pastor of the church, also attended. The Archdiocese of New York has named a priest as administrator.
Editor’s note: This is one of two parishes from which the friars withdrew this month; the other is St. Joseph Church in East Rutherford, N.J.