NEW YORK — St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street here is having a facelift.
Over the next two months, the church, located next to the Provincial Office in midtown Manhattan, will be painted, renovated and fitted with a tabernacle from a former seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.
On June 23, the Baker Liturgical Art Co. erected scaffolding in the interior of the upper church, making ready to repair walls and columns, fix cracks, improve lighting, and install marble. A new altar, pulpit, tabernacle and presider’s chair will also be added, according to Timothy Shreenan, OFM, director of liturgy and communications for St. Francis.
In addition, the great mosaic in the sanctuary will be restored, cleaned and re-lighted. Kneelers will be replaced, marble will be cleaned, and the church will receive a new coat of paint.
Of particular significance is the new tabernacle, once housed in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in upstate New York. Since the seminary closed in 1972, parts of the tabernacle have been dispersed around the Province, including St. Francis Chapel in Providence, R.I., and St. Stephen of Hungary in New York City. The tabernacle has been restored and will be mounted on a new marble platform, featuring a mosaic of the wheat, grapes and the Franciscan Tau cross, Timothy said. A new altar and ambo will complete the sanctuary.
During the renovation, the upper church is closed Monday through Saturday, and morning prayer is canceled, Timothy said. Weekday Masses and confessions take place in the lower church. Weekend Masses are still held in the upper church.
The church plans to complete the renovation by the Aug. 23 Solemn Profession.
An article about St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary and its current use, The Delaware Valley Job Corps Center, appeared in the June 13 issue of the Sullivan County Democrat. It described the history of the building and provided many photos of the frescoes, statues, and other aspects of the building. The article mentions Holy Cross Church in Callicoon, where much of the finely detailed adornments of the old chapel were moved.
Updated information about the restoration project is being provided in the bulletin of St. Francis of Assisi Church, of which Jerome Massimino, OFM, is pastor.