A very strong corrupting factor in cultures throughout history is the presence of racism. We just have to take a quick look through history to see its destructive power. In 2018 the US Bishops’ Conference responded to the power of racism by writing and publishing a pastoral letter against this “persistent form of evil”: Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love. The letter opens with the Scripture from St. John that says: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” The letter continues to address: What Is racism?
Racism arises when – either consciously or unconsciously – a person holds that his or her own race or ethnicity is superior and therefore judges persons of other races or ethnicities as inferior and unworthy of equal regard. When this conviction or attitude leads individuals or groups to exclude, ridicule, mistreat, or unjustly discriminate against persons on the basis of their race or ethnicity, it is sinful. Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of persons offended. To recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt. 22,39).
The Gospel today is about Jesus curing ten lepers. What a horrible disease and what a horrible life for those who had it. You have to admire these lepers for encountering Jesus and for Jesus paying attention to them and eventually curing them. Lepers were not allowed to make contact with people outside the leper colony. They must have been shocked when they realized they were cured, so shocked that all but one went back to thank Jesus. Even in our day to day life, we take things for granted and may not pause to give thanks to God for minor or major miracles. They do happen. What was the last miracle that you experienced?
This week we begin a series of excerpts from the United States Bishops’ Letter: Open Wide Our Hearts on racism. Racism is a destructive and powerful force, and their Pastoral Letter has much to say about this evil. There is some racism in each person and to recognize it gives a person the opportunity to chose a different course in life and to embrace more strongly and fervently the val- ues of Jesus. As a church we need to stress that we are all “children of God” and that we are “sisters and brothers in Christ” and temples of the Holy Spirit. I hope that the weekly excerpts will help us lessen the power of this evil.
Our 175th Commemorative Journal is a great testament to the long history of St. Francis Church. The Journal contains history and photographs and much to enjoy. Copies are available at the reception desk of the Parish House.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
Or watch the Mass live here on YouTube:
The Festive Mass will be available via live stream on this page on October 4th at 5:30 PM
Our 175th Anniversary year will culminate this fall with the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4th. Please join us as we close our 175th Anniversary!
Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi
October 3, 2019, 7:00 PM
Each year on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Franciscans around the world commemorate the passing of this beloved saint at a special prayer service called the Transitus. If you have never attended this moving commemoration of St. Francis’ final moments please consider joining us during our 175th anniversary celebrations.
175th Anniversary Festive Mass
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4, 2019, 5:30 PM
Our year will come to a close the best way we know how, with a festive celebration of the Eucharist on the feast of our Patron Saint.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, will be joining us and presiding at the Mass. He will be joined by Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM, Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province, as well as our Pastor, Fr. Andrew Reitz, OFM, our friars in ministry at St. Francis and visiting friars from the Province.
175th Anniversary Commemorative Book Release
Capturing our history and vibrant spirit, Church of Saint Francis of Assisi: Welcome, Worship & Witness in the Heart of New York offers readers a colorful keepsake to commemorate our parish’s 175th anniversary.
This handsome limited edition book includes chapters on our history (“Humble Beginnings and a Hopeful Future”), parish life (“We Are St. Francis!”), and the liturgical year (“Times and Seasons”).
Our 175th Anniversary Commemorative Book will be one sale during the reception after the Festive Mass on October 4th in the San Damiano Hall.
These commemorative books will also be available for sale at the reception desk in the Parish House after September 20th.
Or you may purchase your book online and have it shipped to you for $25.00.
Click HERE to order your book today.
Everyone is welcome to join us as we thank God for 175 years of ministry, grace and love in this sacred place.
Fr. Cronan Kelly was appointed pastor and guardian at 31st Street in 1961, and directed the ministries of the church for the next three years. Shortly after he became pastor, one of the friars, Fr. Philip Lavere, asked for permission to undertake a new ministry, The Good Word. Fr. Philip and Fr. Cronan worked together on project and The Good Word was underway.
As of February 3, 1962, people could dial PEnnsylvania 6-9233 and hear an inspirational message from
the Franciscans. The project started with only three answering units, and within two months ten units were in operation. Two days after the ten units were in use, the telephone company recorded 1,358 busy signals. It was estimated that 3,000 calls were handled daily. So many persons were calling from the offices of Consolidated Edison that the company recorded the friar’s message from the phone and reproduced it over their intercom system each day.
A new era of unexpected change was felt throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church during Fr. Cronan’s tenure as pastor. Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council to “open some windows” and renew the life of the Church. Pope John opened the first of four sessions from October 11 to December
8, 1962. The friars at St. Francis Church responded immediately, and offered a series of sermons with appropriate prayers to highlight the Council throughout the week of October 8. At least four sermons a day, sometimes more, were preached. A different friar spoke each day on topics such as “What Is the Council?”; “The Peoples’ Part;” “Towards Unity;” “Why Have a Council?”; and “Prospects and Problems.”
The friars realized that a major event was happening in the Church, and they began early to prepare their people for the changes the Church was calling for throughout the Roman Catholic world. To a Church community that had not experienced change in four centuries, new developments produced confusion, consternation and upheaval in the lives of many Catholic people.
Fr. Finian Kerwin, who had served a small mission in the southwest corner of Georgia, succeeded Fr. Cronan as pastor in 1964, when the latter friar was elected to serve on the Provincial Council. Fr. Finian struggled to turn change into challenge fro the friars at 31st Street. His task was not an easy one, but he worked patiently as pastor to implement the essential changes called for by the Church.
Fr. Finian served as guardian and pastor from 1964 until 1967, when he was elected Minister Provincial of Holy Name Province, and Fr. Cosmas Timlin was appointed pastor. The three short-term pastors – Fathers Cronan, Finian and Cosmas – concentrated on the implementation of the external changes called for by the Council. The necessary renovations in the upper and lower churches were carried out so that the Mass could be celebrated in accord with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The altars of both churches became free-standing, facing the congregation. The sound systems were replaced with modern units so everyone could participate with the priest. Two organists led the people in song at the 16 daily Masses, and Folk Masses for the young were introduced in the lower church. On September 14, 1964, the Sacrament of Reconciliation was administered in English for the first time, a symbol of the many changes which were to follow during the next ten years.
This series of articles on the history of our parish is adapted from the writings of Fr. Flavian Walsh, O.F.M., Pastor from 1985-87.
This Fall treat yourself to a St. Francis of Assisi Adult Education class or day of reflection. Topics range from faith and theology, spirituality, the Franciscan tradition, literature and the arts. Courses range from one day, to semester long series. These are reasonably priced and taught by talented instructors very knowledgeable in their field.
You will find brochures at the entrances of the church that describe the many different programs the Center will offer between October and December.
Course and registration information is also available online here.
Online registration is now open.
Are you interested in exploring Catholicism for yourself? Do you know someone who might be interested in finding out more about our faith? Were you baptized in another Christian church and are thinking about joining the Catholic Church? Are you Catholic but never received Confirmation or First Communion?
Our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) meets every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. We began this series on September 10, 2019, but it’s not too late to join.
These classes are designed for people who may or may not be sure that they want to join the Catholic church. We present a comprehensive overview of Catholic faith and traditions designed for adults. Anyone inquiring into the Catholic faith may attend these sessions with no obligations. The RCIA is free for anyone exploring Catholicism.
If you would like to find out more about our Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, please contact: Joseph Nuzzi, Director of Evangelization; 212-736-8500, Ext. 365 or email@example.com.
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is just not an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
From Pope Francis in Laudato Sí: A true ecological approach becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor…Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.
From Pope Benedict in Caritas in Caritas in Veritate: The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.
In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul says: “I remind you, to stir into flames the gift of God given you…” In today’s gospel we read: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to a mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you.”
Both St. Paul and Jesus tell us that we have received a great gift from God and it is not a small gift, but a gift with great potential. If faith can uproot a mulberry tree and be planted in the sea, St. Luke tells us what we possess, but as St. Paul says, sometimes we need to “stir” it into flames. So often people comment that they wish they had more faith, but here are two writers who tell us that we already have it – we just need to stir it up and get it going. These are two good Scripture quotes for us.
For several weeks I have been including in the bulletin “Seven Themes of Catholic Teaching.”These themes stress Catholic values in society and in our day-to-day lives as Catholics. Many people are unaware what these Themes are and the fact that they are built on the Gospel and Jesus’ teaching. When we return to Scripture and Papal documents for the past 100 years, this is where we find these values. Next week, I will begin including sections from the document “Open Wide Our Hearts.” This is a Pastoral Letter against racism from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This is very timely and important, so I encourage you to read the sec- tions each week.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
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