Manhattan Church Celebrates Year for Priests

Carolyn Croke Around the Province

NEW YORK — St. Stephen of Hungary Church on East 82nd Street here recently celebrated the Year for Priests with a special Mass and brunch.

The May 23 event was a means for parishioners to recognize the contributions of priests who have served them, the parish and people in need through the years. The Year for Priests was dedicated last year by Pope Benedict XVI and runs until June 19.

Mass was celebrated at 10:15 a.m. by pastor Angelus Gambatese, OFM, with the assistance of parochial vicar Eric Carpine, OFM, and former pastors Neil O’Connell, OFM, and David McBriar, OFM. They were joined by Emeric Szlezak, OFM, who served the parish as parochial vicar for more than 40 years. Emeric composed his own reflection on the day and his years as a priest.

ststeve1Parishioners who attended the Mass enjoyed the brilliant red and orange decorations for the feast of Pentecost as well as music performed on the violin by Nicole Leon.

Nicole is the daughter of Elaiz Leone, director of St. Stephen of Hungary Strings, a group of young musicians who perform at the monthly family liturgy, as well as on special occasions. The Mass also featured a sacred dance by parishioner Betsy O’Neill.

More than 100 parishioners attended the brunch, which took place in the parish hall. Parishioner and local chef Michael Hartigan donated his services to create the delicious meal, made possible by donations of money, food supplies and homemade dishes. A large sheet cake read: “God bless our Franciscan friars.”

During brunch, Emeric, 92, shared fond memories of his ministry at St. Stephen’s and remarked that he had “married and/or baptized” most of the attendees. His visit to the parish was especially appreciated by the Hungarian members.

Following brunch, Emeric concelebrated the 2 p.m. Mass in Hungarian.

In honor of the Year for Priests, parishioners were invited to make a donation to Holy Name Province’s Infirmary Appeal, which supports the care of retired friars. Guests of the brunch generously donated more than $1,000 for the cause, and private contributions were received as well.

— Carolyn Croke, a parishioner of St. Stephen’s and administrative coordinator for the Province’s Vocation Ministry, assisted Betty Gyenis, director of volunteers, and Maria Honti, parish council president, with the event organization.