Despite Mother Nature throwing us a curveball with ten inches of snow (in October no less!), the Postulants are back safe and sound in good ol’ Wilmington, Delaware. It was a fast couple of days with a lot to share about, but I have to be completely honest: everything we did on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday did not compare to all we did in New York City on Friday. The other days were great in their own way, and my next post will definitely be a reflection on some great ministries in our province, but New York just deserves it’s own post.
Arriving at the parking deck in Midtown Manhattan about 9:00, we began our walk through the city to our first destination, the St. Francis Residences. Started in 1980, this ministry offers permanent housing for the homeless, mentally ill population in the city, with room for 240 residents across three locations. Not only is the housing offered at a dramatically reduced rate, the friars and staff offer medical assistance, dining services, entertainment, and general guidance as well. We spent an hour in the morning touring the building on W. 22nd St. and meeting a few of the residents.
From there, we continued south towards the water for a little sightseeing and a walk on The High Line. Built just a few years back, The High Line is an old elevated train track that was converted into a green walking trail, filled with wild plants, flowers, and well manicured grass. Given it’s location (both in the city and heigh above the street), it is a great place to go for a walk and relax in such a fast-paced city.
After a nice walk and a quick lunch, we started walking north for a bit more tourism. Because I’m a huge fan of the NBC show 30 Rock, I made sure we stopped at the Rockefeller Center on our way by to get a picture and in hopes of spotting Tina Fey. Sadly, I left with only the former. Walking just a block to the east, we found ourselves at the gorgeous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Though both of these destinations were quite breathtaking, and certainly popular for a reason, there is a little known gem right in between them that I found most interesting: St. Francis. Carved into the wall of a shop, he is depicted as a simple man, quietly living out his life of the Gospel in the shadows of enormous power and wealth of both the Church and business. What symbolism of his life and work! I wonder if the person who put it there knew what they were implying…
By then it was time to get on the subway and meet the friars at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus. Built in 1868, this church has a long history of both growth and decline in a city that is always changing. Taken over by the friars in 1990, it has adapted well to changing demographics and population in the city, and is a key element to the life of the neighborhood. It’s school continues to teach grades K-8, they run a thrift shop, and hold outreach meetings for the community almost constantly throughout the day.
With only a few hours left in the day, we rushed around to fit in a few more sights before we left. Since we were in the area, we walked over to St. John the Divine, an Episcopal church, and easily the largest church I’ve ever seen. From there we took the subway all the way down to the water so that we could take the Staten Island Ferry and pass the Statue of Liberty on her 125th anniversary. (Talk about dumb luck on our part! We had no idea!) And as a last hoorah, we took the subway into the Village for some pizza and Italian pastries.
All in all, we got to see two incredible Franciscan ministries and a great view of the city. A suburban kid myself, the city was a great spectacle and a lot of fun. At this point in my formation, though, it seems entirely overwhelming to think about myself a ministry as large as these, but I’m open to the possibility!
Check back soon to see all the places in New Jersey we visited this weekend, and checkout the updated Photos page for new pictures!