Fr. Zachary Kunz, heartsick over the divisions, and concerned about the welfare of the peaceful members of his parish, asked the bishop for permission to establish a new parish. The bishop consented to dividing the parish lines, and Fr. Zachary began his plans for a new parish church on West 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Details are meager, but the Metropolitan Catholic Almanac for 1845, the forerunner of the Official Catholic Directory, states the name of the church and the pastor. Fr. Zachary chose for his patron the man of peace, Saint Francis of Assisi.
The cornerstone of a new church was blessed and laid on May 9, 1844 by the Coadjutor Bishop of New York, the Most Reverend John McCloskey. In a very short time the church was completed, and on August 1, 1844, the future Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Bishop McCloskey, dedicated Saint Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street.
There were two rooms in the basement of the small church. Fr. Zachary lived in one of the rooms, and in the other he opened his parish school, for among the German immigrants there was an unwritten law that there must be a school wherever there is a church. A document in the original cornerstone shows that Peter Jeny was the first teacher of this new school which eventually grew into a center of primary education for the boys and girls of the parish.
The simple rite of blessing church bells indicates the existence of a vibrant Secular Franciscan presence in the parish as well as the potential growth of the parish since more than 100 children were confirmed by Bishop Hughes the day after he blessed the church bell on September 16, 1847. Saint Francis Church was the third Catholic church in New York City to boast of church bells, and the second to sound the Angelus three times a day.
Fr. Zachary died very suddenly in 1848. A Sunday picnic had been planned for the parish, and when the very prompt Fr. Zachary did not appear for Sunday Mass, some of the people went to his little room where they found him dead, the victim of a stroke. His sudden death deprived the people of a very capable and zealous missionary pastor.
This is the second in a series of articles on the history of our parish which will be published throughout our 175th anniversary year. They are adapted from the writings of Fr. Flavian Walsh, O.F.M., Pastor from 1985-87.
Below is a table comparing August 2017 collections to our current July 2018 collections.
As you can see our collections fell short of our budget.
We need everyone to do their part to keep St. Francis on firm financial ground. The best way to use this is to make your offering using our online giving system.
We ask all of our members and visitors to offer the equivalent of ONE HOUR of their weekly salary per week to support the mission of the church.
Thank you to all of you who are already doing your part.
The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people. “It has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness.”
In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complete fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people.
Recently, our Young Adult Ministry went on a weekend retreat to Mt. Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, New York. While preparing for the retreat, some of our young adults asked that we spend time on the retreat helping them understand the Mass. As a result, the whole retreat was devoted to taking various parts of the Mass and explaining how they relate to our lives.
The book What Happens at Mass was given to the retreatants so that they could follow up afterwards. It was further suggested that there be a “What Happens at Mass” discussion group here to delve into this book even more deeply and so that participants thoroughly understand the richness of the Mass.
In the introduction to the book, Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., explains that “Mass is a ritual… Mass is about love… Mass… is an encounter.”
Even though a person may have gone to Mass for years, this book can deepen your appreciation of this “encounter” with the living God, and deepen your awareness of God’s continuing presence in your life.
The book is available in the lobby of the Parish House.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says to the blind man: “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” This blind man, Bartimaeus, had not only been blind, but in those days he had to resort to begging. His whole life must have been frustrating until he encountered Jesus, who not only cures him, but the Gospel says that “he received his sight and followed [Jesus] on the way.”
Our faith can help us “see” the Lord’s presence in our lives and in the world. We see and hear a lot in our daily lives and much of
it is not positive. In today’s world, we need to learn how to see better and to hear better. I believe that it is a good habit to restrict ourselves on how much of the media we expose ourselves to. Much of what we see and hear does not have a positive effect on us but confuses us or has a negative effect on us. We need to know what is happening in the world so that we can act appropriately as Christians, but the media can saturate us until we cannot see and hear clearly. Did you ever consider “fasting” from your daily consumption of the media?
November begins this week with the celebration of All Saints, followed by our remembrance of our deceased loved ones. We will have our regular Mass schedules for both days. On Friday evening at 7:00 PM we have our annual Our Souls’ Mass where our loved ones who died this past year are remembered. There is a mention of their names and a candle lighting ceremony. If you lost someone during the past year, you are invited to this special Eucharist.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street in New YorkCity stands as a living memorial of the missionary vanguard of Franciscan friars from Europe who sailed to New York to care for the spiritual needs of the immigrants of the mid-19th century. Saint Francis Church and Friary have been intimately related to the birth and growth of both the Custody of the Immaculate Conception and the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and the names of the friars who have labored faithfully and generously for the past 175 years in the spiritual oasis of the Big Apple are countless.
In the 1840’s, the West Side of New York City between 23rd Street and Times Square was a pleasant residential community of some 400 residents living along the Hudson River in the area known as Bloomingdale. Trees lined the streets and farms, and country estates dotted the lovely landscape. Many of the inhabitants were staunch Germans from Prussia, Bavaria, Bohemia, Austria, and Hungary. A large number of them were Catholics, who, if they wished to hear the word of God in their own language, had to trek to Saint Nicholas Church on East 2nd Street.
Early in 1840, the first Pastor of St. Nicholas Church, Father John S. Raffeiner, laid the cornerstone of a small frame church on West 30th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The little church remained a mission of St. Nicholas parish until September 14, 1840 when a Hungarian Franciscan became its first Pastor. In the first baptismal register the friar identified himself as the “Reverend Zacharias Kung, O.S.F. Ref., of the Province of Our Lady of Hungary, a priest and missionary.”
Fr. Zachary Kunz had come to America with a few of his confreres at the urgent request of some American bishops who were concerned about the spiritual care of the newly arrived immigrants. He found his parishioners scattered along the banks of the Hudson River between 24th and 40th Streets. Six days after his arrival – on September 20, 1840 – the little church was dedicated and named in honor of St. John the Baptist. However, his pastorate was brief and stormy. Trusteeism, which was raising havoc in many parts of New York, quickly put an end to his missionary efforts. The rebellious conduct of the trustees reached such outrageous proportions that Bishop John Hughes felt obliged to place the church under interdict. The little church remained closed until 1845.
Fr. Zachary, heartsick over the divisions, and concerned about the welfare of the peaceful members of his parish, asked the bishop for permission to establish a new parish. The bishop consented to dividing the parish lines, and Fr. Zachary began his plans for a new parish church on West 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.
This is the first in a series of articles on the history of our parish which will be published throughout our 175th anniversary year. They are adapted from the writings of Fr. Flavian Walsh, O.F.M., Pastor from 1985-87.
The Letter to the Hebrews presents a number of testimonies that encourage us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” It speaks of Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Gideon and others. Above all it invites us to realize that “a great cloud of witnesses” impels us to advance constantly toward the goal. These witnesses may include our mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones. Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.
The saints now in God’s presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us… Each of us can say “Surrounded, led, and guided by the friends of God… I do not have to carry alone what, in truth, I could never carry alone. All the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me.”
Of all the pains that life can hand us, arguably one of the most searing is the death of a child. As Jesus joined his distraught disciples on the road to Emmaus after his crucifixion, we ask him to join each of us in this ministry as we continue on our difficult journeys from grief to the healing peace that we, like Jesus’ disciples, can find in the Eucharistic community.
To meet the spiritual needs of Catholic parents whose children of any age have died by any cause—no matter how long ago—the Family Life Office offers the Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents. A unique, faith-based program providing spiritual retreats for grieving parents offered by grieving parents, the Emmaus Ministry provides a safe place where one can find peace, comfort, and hope, at least for a time. The entire retreat focuses on the parents’ personal spiritual journey, where one can engage as much or as little as one wants.
Join us on Saturday, October 20, 2018
in San Damiano Hall,
129 W. 31st Street,
from 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM.
The fee is $25 per person, $40 per couple, which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all retreat materials.
Scholarships are available. Pre-registration is required.