NEW YORK — The holiday spirit of appreciation is in the air this month in one Midtown Manhattan Franciscan neighborhood as St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street held several Christmas events for its ministry partners.
The annual Volunteer Christmas Party was Dec. 11, with about 100 volunteers turning out. This gathering was for all who volunteer at the church this past year, according to Edward Trochimczuk, parish director of volunteers.
The dinner included a buffet, with various drinks and a special candy cane punch made from chef Emeril Lagasse’s recipe. Festivities included a DJ and games, according to Trochimczuk.
Volunteers were from the St. Francis Breadline, liturgical ministers, St. Francis Counseling Center, Immigration Center, RENEW program, St. Francis Cares programs, Adult Education Center, the bookstore, Korean Ministry, Ugnayan Filipino Fellowship, St. Francis Hospitality, RCIA, and the St. Francis Choir.
Thanking the Volunteers, Participants
On Dec. 9, the parish offered a Christmas luncheon for the Renew: Younger Retirees group. More than 90 people from New York’s five boroughs and the suburbs attended the gathering arranged by Marie Harrington, parish director of outreach.
“We always have an active waiting list for Renew with a maximum limit of 225 members,” she said. Members reside in the Metropolitan area, including Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey, she said.
“For the last two years, Fr. Jerome (Massimino) has hosted the luncheon in San Damiano Hall for members, serving a traditional turkey dinner complete with cakes baked by Raymond, the friary cook,” she said. Previous luncheons took place at restaurants.
RENEW committee members volunteer their time and talents to help Harrington plan and organize monthly events, prepare a monthly newsletter, and establish policies and procedures for maintaining the RENEW group. The RENEW committee includes Kay Ahearn, Frank Fredo, Mary Donnelly, Joe Meehan and Louis Rivera.
Friars Address Luncheon
Michael Carnevale, OFM, director of the breadline, thanked guests for their support. Members of Renew recently donated nearly $6,000 to the breadline, which next year commemorates 80 years of continuous service to the community.
“A total of $5,925 has been collected to date from Renew members for the St. Francis Breadline as our Christmas project,” Harrington added.
“We have seen an increase in guests recently,” Michael said, after describing, with a smile, how the types of sandwiches served have been expanded.
“I think it is important to have the quality of the food be good,” he added. “After all, I wouldn’t want to give away a sandwich that I wouldn’t eat.”
Pastor Jerome Massimino, OFM, thanked the Renew members for their generosity, describing the importance of the breadline. “This morning, there were more than 400 people in the breadline,” he said.
Jerome also thanked Harrington for her hard work, and wished guests a merry Christmas.