Manhattan Church Renovates Lobby, Welcomes Hospitality Director

Marie Harrington Around the Province

NEW YORK — Visitors to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in midtown Manhattan are being greeted by a newly-renovated lobby. In  mid-July, the parish relocated its reception and information center to its original location at 135 West 31st St. after having been situated for several years at the church’s West 32nd St. side.

In the new space, visitors can arrange Masses and perpetual enrollments, make a donation to the St. Francis Breadline, or receive information about the parish’s programs. The lobby is also the entrance to the parish’s administrative offices as well as the Center for Franciscan Spirituality and Spiritual Direction, Korean Ministry, Volunteer Ministry and other outreach programs. The 100-year-old building, which once served as the residence for the friars, was recently renamed St. Francis House.

Pastor and Guardian Jerome Massimino said he learned when he was pastor of St. Anthony-St. Patrick Church in Hartford, Conn.,  that the key to successful ministry is hospitality. “If you welcome people warmly, provide singable music and a decent homily,” he said, “you will fill your church. While all three components are important, there is no substitute for creating an atmosphere where people feel welcome and can experience a sense of belonging.”

Last year, Michael Murphy joined the staff of St. Francis as receptionist. With the relocation of the reception center to 31st Street, Michael, shown in photo, was appointed director of hospitality in recognition of his patience and compassionate treatment of those who approach the church for help and direction, Jerome said.

“I am most grateful that he accepted what is probably the most important job at 31st Street,” Jerome added.

The building on 32nd Street (which once housed the Franciscan Missionary Union prior to its move to St. Anthony’s Guild) will now be used exclusively for the St. Francis Counseling Center and the Immigration Center. Following some minor renovations, both of these significant ministries will enjoy expanded space for their programs.

Friary Procedures, Province Events
Visiting friar guests should note that  keys to the guest rooms of the new St. Francis Friary can be obtained in the newly-renovated lobby on 31st Street. To reserve a room, contact Jerome ( or Alan Thomas,  ( The main phone number remains 212-736-8500.

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi will be the site for the solemn profession of vows on Sept. 15. Five friars will make their solemn profession: Walter Liss, Christopher VanHaight, David Phan, Julian Jagudilla, and Paul Keenan who served at St. Francis as a pastoral intern this past year.

St. Francis will also be the site of the next provincial ordination liturgy on May 24, 2008.

— Marie Harrington is director of outreach programs at St. Francis of Assisi Church. An article about fall programs sponsored by her office appears in this issue of HNP Today.