St. Francis Xavier Gets a Makeover

We're frequently, frequently, accused of being too NewYorky here at America magazine, what with all of our "Of Many Things" columns about New York and its environs, and occasional mention of events that happen at, or visitors who frequent, America House, our office-cum-residence.  One letter stands out for me over the years.  One reader wrote, "Why don't you just get it over with and change the name of your magazine to 'Manhattan.'?"  So we are diligent in trying not to be too NewYorky.

On the other hand, sometimes it's hard to ignore what's going on around the corner.  Case in point: the Church of St. Francis Xavier (oh, a Jesuit church--and we're also accused of being too "Jesuity") is undergoing a dramatic transformation.  Formerly crepuscular and even, well, down at the heels, the landmark church, contiguous to Xavier High School in the Chelsea neighborhood of the city that will remain unnamed here has, over the past few months, emerged from its chrysalis and is restored not even to its former glory but a glory that, thanks to lighting, it probably never had.  The parish itself is a vibrant, multiethnic, welcoming parish that has long been a magnet for Catholics from all over New York.  Anyway, it's so exciting (and I'm not being paid to say this) that I wanted to share these photos with you of the apse, which had been a gloomy affair until last year.   More photos of the fascinating process are here on their website and even nicer ones, which capture the warm creamy tones of the new church, are here on their Facebook page.

Drop by the next time you're in, um, that city where we work.  

James Martin, SJ

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn
7 years ago
Too New Yorky? Well, possibly. However as someone has moved a few hours north, I for one am grateful for all the New Yorky-ness that I can get.
 
Too Jesuity? That's curious. If being a Jesuit means "finding God in all things," I would imagine that being too Jesuity is a *good* thing. I am inclined to think you would agree, Fr. Jim, but that is just a non-Jesuit educated guess on my part!
 
As for St. Francis Xavier, I have many fond memories of visiting that church over the years. I recall a massive Holy Thursday footwashing there in the early 90's, at a time when I was rediscovering my Catholic faith. Having never experienced this in such a way, it was a transformative experience for me, and one that lives in my heart as I help plan Triduum liturgies in my new life today.  I also remember being at a Good Friday service at Xavier and then walking the few blocks to my friend's tiny New Yorky apartment to celebrate a Seder. God was in all things there that day, I can assure you.
 
 
 
7 years ago
Walter: LOL. You made my day.
7 years ago
Padre: I think you mean *Jesuitical*. LOL.
Stephen SCHEWE
7 years ago
Forget the whole schtick about not being NewYorky, too.  One time when I called your editorial office, I was amused by the strong New York accent on the voicemail; it was like listening to a pastrami on rye sandwich.  New York fits you like an aquarium fits fish, and you're just as likely as they are to escape or even to detect the bowl.  Swim freely, and let the fish who want a blander diet swim elsewhere!
Austen Ivereigh
7 years ago
Even da Yewopean cowwespndent torks like he was from Noo Yawk. (At least, he's working on it).
Maria Leonard
7 years ago
Greetings Father Jim:-
All of you at America are never too ''Jesuity'' or too ''New Yorker'' for me.  You fill that empty spot in my heart as a  former New Yorker. And many thanks for the update on the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.  I often attended mass there when I worked on 17th Street in the 50's and am delighted to see how it has been restored.
Maria Leonard
7 years ago
Oops...I meant, of course, St. Francis Xavier Church!!

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