How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place:
St. Francis of Assisi Parish at 175
As part of our parish’s year-long jubilee celebration, the St. Francis Adult Education Center is offering a three-week summer program that will look at our parish’s past and present through several lenses: the biblical, the historical, the theological and the artistic. St. Francis of Assisi Parish offers a case study in what it means to be the Catholic Church in America and an oasis of spirituality in the secular city.
12:00–1:15 PM OR 6:15–7:30 PM
San Damiano Hall, 129 West 31st Street
Week One: Biblical Perspectives
Fr. William Beaudin, O.F.M.
Wednesday and Thursday: July 17 & 18
For centuries, God’s holy temple in Jerusalem was the central shrine of Israel’s faith. It was thought to be God’s dwelling place on earth, God’s “headquarters” for governing his good creation, the meeting ground between God’s space and human space. How did the biblical writers understand the complex inter-relationship between a sacred building, the God to whom it was dedicated, the community of faith that worshiped there, and the larger world which that community was sent out to transform? How might this biblical understanding of temple inform our own understanding of the relationship between a parish church, a parish community, and a parish’s mission to and for the world?
Week Two:Historical Perspectives
Fr. Dominic Monti, O.F.M.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: July 23, 24 & 25
The 175-year history of St. Francis of Assisi Parish is a microcosm of the Catholic Church in America. From its roots as an immigrant church, through its many adaptations to the shifting fortunes of the neighborhood in which it is inserted, to its pastoral response to radical changes in the Church and society, our parish has endeared itself to millions of New Yorkers as a place of refuge and welcome, of healing and reconciliation, of lively worship and direct service to the poor. Few historians in the United States are more qualified to tell the story and trace the history of the parish within the wider context of American church history than Fr. Dominic Monti, O.F.M., and even fewer can do so in as lively and engaging a way.
Week Three: Theological and Artistic Perspectives
Joseph Nuzzi and Fr. Timothy Shreenan, O.F.M.
Tuesday and Wednesday: July 30 & 31
What does it mean to be a parish today? What does it mean to be the Church in a specific place like West 31st Street in Manhattan, at a specific time in human history like 2019? Whether you are or are not a parishioner at St. Francis, these questions about the role and relevance a local Catholic Christian community offer stimulating points for reflection and discussion about your own experience of welcome, worship and witness in the parish of your choice. The course will conclude with an exploration of the art and architecture of St. Francis Church and how what we see in this church building challenges us to be the church in New York City and beyond.