Religious Groups Here Fill a Need for the Faithful; Offer Everything from Spiritual Guidance to Fitness Classes, Regardless of Creed

Staten Island Advance (New York)
April 27, 2008

Staten Island's religious organizations offer a multitude of programs, from spiritual guidance to fitness classes.

Many of these organizations are open to the entire borough community, regardless of creed.


* Mount Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, 239 Fingerboard Rd., Fort Wadsworth, 718-727-3844. The Rev. Dr. Edward Quinnan of the Society of Jesus is the director. The center offers retreats mainly for adults and students, and schedules days of recollection, as well as programs of renewal and religious education.

* St. Charles Seminary/Residence, 209 Flagg Pl., Dongan Hills, 718-351-0232, a former seminary, is now a mission center for the Society of St. Charles Borromeo (known as the Scalabrinian Fathers, after their founder, Blessed Bishop John Baptiste Scalabrini of Picenza, Italy). The Rev. Joseph Fugolo is the administrator.

The priests' residence accommodates the order's vocational research department, development office for the support of worldwide missionary activities, retreats and the Center for Migration Studies, which publishes the International Migration Review, a scholarly journal. An outdoor garden at the center is set up as a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. Visitors are welcome.

* Society of St. Paul, 2187 Victory Blvd., Meiers Corners, 718-761-0050, 718-761-0047, the Rev. Joseph Javillo, superior. The Island location is home to the Alba House publishing division of the order, which is a community of the American Province of the Society of St. Paul. Priests and brothers in the society publish books, religious texts and other religious material.

A society-operated bookstore, Alba House, selling religious articles, texts and audio-visual materials, is on the ground floor of the center, 718-761-0085. The complex also accommodates a seminary for brothers, a chapel and a studio for cable-casting programs for Staten Island Community Television.

* Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Apostolate of Staten Island maintains Our Lady of the Eucharist Chapel on the grounds of the Society of St. Paul/Alba House, 2187 Victory Blvd., Meiers Corners, open to all for private prayer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

* St. Francis Center for Spirituality, 500 Todt Hill Rd., Todt Hill, 718-981-3131, is a residence for priests and brothers in Order Minor Conventuals (Franciscans). Programs for the public include days of recollection, spirituality seminars, lectures, devotional programs and the arts. The Rev. Brennan Joseph is the superior.

* Archdiocese of New York, administrative headquarters at the Terence Cardinal Cooke Catholic Center, 1011 First Ave., Manhattan, 212-371-1000. Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop, oversees activities for parishes in Staten Island, Manhattan, the Bronx and seven northern counties. Staten Island's regional coordinators, the archbishop's representatives, are Monsignor James Dorney, pastor of St. Peter's R.C. Church in New Brighton, and Monsignor Peter Finn, pastor of Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church in West Brighton.

* Staten Island Family Planning Office, Archdiocese of New York. Sponsors classes in natural family planning. Call Deacon John and Judy Singler at 718-356-6729.

* Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York maintains an Island office at 120 Anderson Ave., Port Richmond, 718-447-6330. The office offers marriage counseling and personal counseling for adults, services and guidance for needy families on Staten Island, and general referrals and information for the public.

* Catholic Guardian Society operates group homes for youths at a number of locations on the Island, including Egbert Avenue, West Brighton; Nicholas and Heberton avenues, both in Port Richmond; Grandview and Van Pelt avenues, Mariners Harbor, and Clawson Street, New Dorp. John J. Frein is the society's executive director at archdiocesan headquarters, 212-371-1000, ext. 2300. Sunday Odua (ext. 2346) is the director of the "congregate care" program.

* Catholic Youth Organization, 120 Anderson Ave., Port Richmond, 718-448-4949. Anthony Navarino, ext. 10, county director and administrative supervisor of the Port Richmond CYO Center, coordinates the athletic and cultural programs, and youth ministries in the parishes. Gayle Murphy is the center director, ext. 21.

The center also accommodates a senior guild, which meets daily for lunch, arts and crafts, field trips and other activities. Any interested seniors may call Marni Caruso, Lavignera, senior guild director, at 718-448-5757, ext. 16.

* Cross-Road Foundation, 15 Treadwell Ave., Port Richmond, 718-556-3474. A not-for-profit organization that offers services and referrals to pregnant women and their children. William Harder is the executive director.

* Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto, 6581 Hylan Blvd., Pleasant Plains, 718-317-2803, Stephen Rynn, executive director. Mount Loretto offers a day-care facility, Tender Care Preschool Center, for children between 6 months and 6 years old. The center incorporates a summer camp for youngsters within this age group during July and August. Eileen Steiffel is the director of the day care program and can be contacted at 718-317-2849. The center also is home to a universal pre-kindergarten program operated by the Board of Education.

Mount Loretto also accommodates programs of the state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, including the Day Habilitation Program for developmentally disabled adults. The aim of the program is to help clients prepare for independent living and to enable them to enter the workforce. New programs for children with autism include an after-school program, summer camp and the Center for Social Communication Enhancement. Contact Maryann DeCristofano at 718-317-2731.

The Mount Loretto Friendship Club is home to more than 200 senior citizens who formerly were members of the Pleasant Plains and Tottenville friendship clubs. The state-of-the-art center, formerly used as a dormitory, is equipped with a full kitchen, dining room, television lounge and craft areas.

A summer camp program, including a program for special-needs children, operates on the grounds.

The CYO-Mission of the Immaculate Virgin Community Center, 6451 Hylan Blvd., Pleasant Plains, is a 22,000-square-foot building that includes a 10,000-square-foot gymnasium, as well as a prep kitchen and space for seniors' and community groups. William D'Ambrosio is the center director, 718-317-2806.

The St. Edward Food Pantry, formerly located at Camp St. Edward in Pleasant Plains, is now located at Mount Loretto. Sister Vincent Marie Wilson is the director. Call 718-984-1625.

* Parish Parenting Centers, certified by the Archdiocese of New York, offer courses, workshops and discussion groups for parents with children from newborns to teens. The orientation is educational, social and religious.

Parenting centers are conducted at Our Lady Queen of Peace, New Dorp, 718-351-8589; St. Clare's, Great Kills, 718-720-0245, and Holy Rosary R.C. Church, South Beach, 718-727-3360.

While the offerings vary at the different parish centers, some of the activities include expectant parent masses, birth celebrations, intergenerational forums and workshops on "good beginnings," "growing up together" and stress reduction.

Focuses include parenthood, personalities and temperament, self-image, feelings and discipline.


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