Tag Archives: church

Astoria church hosts monthly community potluck


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Asha Mahadevan

One Astoria church is hoping to bring a community together over good food and a warm environment.

For over a year, members of the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, located at 31-18 37th St., have been hosting a Community Supper Potluck on the second Friday of every month.

During these dinners, which go on for about two hours, church parishioners and residents from the neighborhood are welcome to bring a dish to share and just hang out, according Elizabeth Lacks, one of the organizers.

According to Lacks, you do not need to bring food in order to participate. The dinners are open to those who just want to get together with neighbors and also those who might need a hot, nutritious meal.

“The potluck aspect of the supper has been a lot of fun, especially in such an ethnically diverse neighborhood as Astoria,” Lacks said. “And it’s a great way to get to know some of your neighbors; we encourage people to sit with others even if they come alone, and I have met some fascinating people.”

The community potlucks began after members of the congregation, including Lacks, came together to discuss ways to reach out to more residents in the community.

“Of course in any community there are people in need of food and friendship, and ours is no different,” Lacks said. “These dinners were the result, and they’ve grown considerably since we started.”

The goal of the dinners, which now see about 40 participants, is to provide a place where parishioners and neighbors can “find good food and fellowship,” Lacks said. Organizers hope those who attend will feel like they belong to a community.

Although the church asks for volunteers to help serve, set up and clean up, and appreciates any support it gets, the group does not distinguish between volunteers and others at the dinners. When it comes to dinner time, everyone eats together.

“As many people live New York, it’s very easy to be lonely in this city, and we hope that these dinners are a place where neighbors can meet and engage with each other in a warm and welcoming environment,” Lacks said.

If you would like to volunteer for a dinner, email Lacks at elizabeth.lacks@gmail.com. The next Community Supper Potluck is scheduled for Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New show by Tina Fey begins filming in Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Tina Fey, the writer, producer and star of “30 Rock,” was in Bayside on Wednesday filming her new show, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

Fey, who co-created the show, oversaw production as the camera rolled on the star of the show,  Ellie Kemper from “The Office.” Trucks and trailers clustered around St. Josaphat’s Church and the crew used the church’s parking lot for the scene.

The comedy show also stars Tituss Burgess, and the show will air in the spring.

Kemper stars as Kimmy Schmidt, who was forced to live in a cult for 15 years before being rescued. She decides to move to New York City instead of returning to her home in Indiana.

According to crew members, filming will continue into early tomorrow at 1 a.m. and they also plan to shoot scenes at Crocheron Park.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Astoria church to celebrate 90 years of faith


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

One Astoria Catholic church will soon be celebrating nearly a century of serving the community.

The Immaculate Conception Church, located at 21-47 29th St., will be marking 90 years since it held its first Mass in 1924.

There are two celebratory Masses planned for this fall, followed by a party in the new year.

“It’s wonderful. It’s a great way of marking the accomplishments of the parish,” said Monsignor Fernando Ferrarese, the current pastor of the church, about the celebrations. “When you see the accomplishments of the parish over 90 years, you see the possibilities for a future as well.”

The Rev. Michael Lopez held the church’s first Mass in the Immaculate Conception School, which will also be celebrating its 90th anniversary, on Oct. 4, 1924. The church’s current building, located on the corner of 29th Street, was fully completed in 1951.

OLD PHOTO school

An old photo of the Immaculate Conception School (Photo courtesy Immaculate Conception Church)

The National Organization of Catholic War Veterans was started in the parish by the Rev. Edward Higgins in the 1930s and Post 1 is still located at the church as various other posts have become established throughout the nation.

“[The church] has been a unifying factor and the celebration of diversity that people from all different countries, all different walks of life, all believe in God and believe that God is the best thing for community,” Ferrarese said. “It brings us together, it gives us the virtues and values that we need as a city and it is a real anchor for people.”

The Astoria church now offers Mass in four languages — Spanish, English, Italian and Tagalog — and Ferrarese said he has seen the community and parish itself grow and bring a “wonderful mixture of people.”

Other programs and services the parish offers include a homeless shelter in the winter, a food pantry throughout the year, an introductory opera course, an active school, a religious education program and spiritual courses.

For the past five years, the church has also been holding film festivals every fall and spring. This fall’s festival, which begins on Oct. 17 and is free to the public, will surround the topic of “hate,” and screen three movies including “42.”

“We want to be able to give our people a real sense of growth of development on all levels,” Ferrarese said. “It also is a kind of way to introduce people to issues of faith.”

The first celebratory Mass of the church’s 90th anniversary will be on Oct. 4 at 5 p.m., and the second Mass will be on Dec. 7. The gala reception is expected to be held on Jan. 18, 2015, at Russo’s on the Bay.

For more information on the Immaculate Conception Church, visit www.immacastoria.org.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Nearly $7,000 in cash stolen from Maspeth church


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

A perpetrator stole nearly $7,000 in cash from Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Maspeth, cops said.

The money was taken from a car in front the church near 56th Road. The suspect took $6,900 in cash and $1,300 in checks, according to police.

The vehicle was being fixed at the time of the crime, and upon further investigation police learned that the money inside belonged to the church, authorities said.

If you have any information relating to the above incident please contact the 104th Precinct Detective Squad (718) 386-3004.

The church declined to comment.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Flushing church’s act of kindness backfires


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Melissa Chan

Leaders of a local Christian church are bemoaning an act of kindness after spending $2,000 in legal fees and close to two years to try to evict a pair of stubborn squatters they say have no plans to leave.

The Queensboro Hill Community Church of Flushing opened its doors to two homeless women and their dog a year-and-a-half ago when church officials found the down-on-their-luck duo sleeping on a mat in a 4×8 room in the basement, said Joe Illigasch, who has close ties with the church.

The pair, Illigasch said, promised they only needed a short amount of time to get back on their feet. But five months later, it was clear to the congregation the mooching mates had no plans to hit the road, Illigasch said.

Illigasch, 70, said he went to the police, who told him the church could not legally boot the ladies after housing them for more than 30 days. The church, he said, then hired a lawyer who said the unwelcome, non-rent paying tenants might not have to leave until an agreement is reached between them, the church and housing courts on a mutually agreed upon date.

“We gave them money. We fed them. We encouraged them,” Illigasch said. “In the beginning, the pastor kept saying [turning them out] isn’t the Christian way. You have to give them time. You try to be a good person and follow the law, but the law is just not written properly. Common sense doesn’t prevail.”

The twosome, Judy B. and Mary M. — who did not want their last names published — said they never wanted to take advantage of the church.

“It’s not that we want to stay here any longer than we have to. We’re sleeping in a room on the floor. When I have to get up in the middle of the night, I honestly have to wiggle across the stage on a pillow because I can’t get up myself,” said Judy, 64. “I understand they’re mad, but we have no place to go.”

Judy, who relies on Social Security disability funds, said she’s tied down by medical bills for recent eye surgery and ailments stemming from old age, including arthritis in her knees. She also refuses to part with her 11-year-old unofficial service dog.

“I’m willing to go live on the street. It’s not a situation where we’re trying to use them,” Judy said. “I don’t know if they understand what it’s like. Why would somebody want to stay here like this?”

Mary, 54, who had a job cleaning the church but is currently unemployed, said she saw the house of worship as a “sanctuary” and attributed bad credit ratings to why the two could not find another living situation. The pair, who have been roommates for two decades, had owed an undisclosed amount of money to former landlords in the past but reached negotiations in court for the payments, Mary said.

“I know it is killing both sides,” she said. “I’m moving heaven and earth to get out of here.”

The two women have until Friday, August 3 to move out, according to an order by a Queens County Housing Court judge.

“It’s incredible what they’ve done to us,” Illigasch said. “That church will never let anybody in again.”

St. Saviour’s needs new storage space


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Bob Holden

A historic Maspeth church needs salvation to avoid damnation.

St. Saviour’s has been warehoused for the past few years by Galasso Trucking, which donated space and trailers when the 165-year-old church, which had been deconstructed, needed to be stored.

The Maspeth trucking company now needs the space back.

“They’ve been great, more than great,” said Bob Holden, president on the Juniper Park Civic Association and advocate for St. Saviour’s. “They’ve done this for three years. We thought it would only be a few months.”

Without a space to store the church, one of the oldest buildings in Queens may be lost, a situation Holden said would be tragic.

One plan has the church being moved to a plot of land at All Faiths Cemetery, but the area needs to be cleared and leveled — which will cost about $45,000 and another $40,000 to build a garage.

Grants totaling $150,000 from Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and former state Senator Serphin Maltese were secured for moving the church, though the money is still being held by the state. Hevesi and Senator Joe Addabbo are working to get the funds released, Holden said.

Until the money is released, little can be done.

“We have the land and the grants, we just need the cash,” Holden said.

Holden bemoaned the fact that Maspeth, the oldest settlement on Long Island, lacks any landmarks. The church was designed by architect Richard Upjohn, who also designed Trinity Church in Manhattan, in the Carpenter Gothic-style.

Built in 1847, St. Saviour’s closed in 1995 due to a dwindling congregation. For more than a decade the church continued to stand on Maspeth Hill before facing demolition in 2008.

The church was literally minutes away from being demolished when a deal was worked out that gave the Juniper Park Civic Association 30 days to deconstruct the building and get it off the property. It took them 40 days to take down the church and store it in carefully-labeled sections.

“We’ve come this far and saved a piece of Maspeth and Queens history,” said Holden. “We’ll keep fighting.”

Poor box pilferer pinched


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Thou shalt not steal.

One man’s sinful behavior landed him in some hot water when a parish priest caught him trying to pilfer the poor box.

On Christmas Eve, 2011, Reverend Father Francis Colamaria, overseer of Holy Child Jesus Roman Catholic Church in Richmond Hill, heard loud scraping noises coming from inside the house of worship. Upon investigation, Colamaria discovered Joseph Azzurro standing adjacent to a collection box. When the intruder saw Colamaria, he fell to his knees, saying “Bless me Father for I have sinned.”

Colamaria observed Azzurro carrying a backpack, inside of which he saw a bent wire hanger. Prior to the incident, several bent wire hangers had been retrieved throughout the church.

According to the district attorney, Colamaria recognized the individual and had frequently seen him in close proximity to the poor boxes, often during weekends and religious holidays, when donation amounts generally spike.

Azzurro was arrested on February 23. He has since been released without bail.

The charges against Azzurro include possession of burglar’s tools, criminal mischief in the fourth degree and attempted petit larceny.

According to the DA, Colamaria said that he noticed weekly shortages among the church’s eight donation boxes averaging $100 between the months of May and December, 2011. Colamaria also claimed that several of the boxes appeared to have been tampered with, including one with a broken lock.

In 2000, Azzurro violated three times an order of protection that had been set against him by Nativity Roman Catholic Church after he attempted to steal money from a collection box there. These actions earned Azzurro a prison sentence of one-and-a-half to three years. Azzurro was pinched yet again in 2002 for burglary at St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church and served more prison time.

Maspeth church vandalized


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Vandals defaced a Maspeth church recently in what is being investigated as a hate crime.

Trinity-St. Andrews Lutheran Church on 60th Avenue was found vandalized on Wednesday, February 29 when the church’s pastor, Terrence Weber, arrived at the religious institution.

“As I was coming to the church’s office door I noticed a Star of David and in the star was a swastika,” the pastor said. “People being what they are today I knew exactly what it was.”

Weber circled the church and parish house searching for more signs of defacement. He discovered a Star of David with the words “Christ” and “Thor,” the tag “UG” with a bomb and a “pornographic scene” scrawled on the house of worship.

Police said they are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime.

“We are an aging congregation,” said Weber, who has been with the church for 18 years. “In my own mind there is no kind of vendetta people would have against us.”

Assemblymember Rory Lancman recently announced legislation that would provide greater protection to houses of worship.

The bill would increase the penalty for any damage to a religious institution from one year to a maximum of four years in prison.

Trinity-St. Andrews has been a pillar of the community since 1899.

This is the first time the church has had to deal with this kind of act, Weber said, adding that the church has a very good relationship with the community.

“Parishioners were numb [to the graffiti] because nothing in this day and age is sacred. It is a sign of the times,” Weber said. “It’s always somebody else, but when it comes to your backyard, you say, ‘I can’t believe it’s right here.’”

No arrests have been made. Repeated calls to the 104th Precinct went unanswered as of press time.