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.

Advertisement

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

James Martin, SJ

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Fran Rossi Szpylczyn
8 years 1 month 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.
 
 
 
8 years 1 month ago
Walter: LOL. You made my day.
8 years 1 month ago
Padre: I think you mean *Jesuitical*. LOL.
Stephen SCHEWE
8 years 1 month 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
8 years 1 month ago
Even da Yewopean cowwespndent torks like he was from Noo Yawk. (At least, he's working on it).
Maria Leonard
8 years 1 month 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
8 years 1 month ago
Oops...I meant, of course, St. Francis Xavier Church!!

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The appointments are part of an ongoing effort to give a greater role to women in the work of the Roman Curia offices, the central administration of the Catholic church.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 21, 2018
Ivette Escobar, a student at Central American University in San Salvador, helps finish a rug in honor of the victims in the 1989 murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on the UCA campus, part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Jesuit martyrs in 2014. (CNS photo/Edgardo Ayala) 
A human rights attorney in the United States believes that the upcoming canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero in October has been a factor in a decision to revisit the 1989 Jesuit massacre at the University of Central America.
Kevin ClarkeApril 20, 2018
Journalists photograph the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California in 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
In California, Catholic opponents of the death penalty are trying to protect the largest population of inmates awaiting execution in the Western Hemisphere.
Jim McDermottApril 20, 2018
Photo: the Hank Center at Loyola University Chicago
Bishop McElroy said that Catholics must embrace “the virtues of solidarity, compassion, integrity, hope and peace-building.”