Centenary of Slovenian church in New York celebrated
New York, 17 October - A centennial mass and gala reception were held in New York on Sunday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Church of St. Cyril, a Slovenian church in East Village that has endured for a century as a nexus of the Slovenian diaspora in the United States.
Mass was given by Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore with the assistance of the parish priest, Father Martin Krizolog, Marjan Čuden, the head of the Slovenian Franciscans, and several other priests.
The parish and church were founded in early-1916 by a community numbering several thousand ethnic Slovenians, who had previously attended mostly German catholic churches.
Archbishop Zore said in his sermon that Slovenians had been emigrating to the US not just for economic reasons but also in search of a democratic environment. They were warmly received by the US but also made an important contribution to the country.
The subsequent gala reception featured several hundred guests, including members of the diplomatic corps and the New York Archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, as the guest of honour.
Cardinal Dolan said Slovenians were "an important stone of the beautiful diversity" in the US, noting that there were many Slovenians in New York distinguished by hard work and firm faith.
He also received a special gift, a straw hat made in Slovenia akin to those that Slovenian emigrants were making in Manhattan in the 19th century.
The Slovenian church was founded in 1916 at the initiative of Father Zakrajšek. The first mass there was celebrated on 4 July the same year.
The church has served as a religious and cultural centre for the Slovenian community since its inception, and it is one of a few ethnic Churches remaining in New York, similar establishments having shut down in recent years.
It serves as a venue not only for liturgy but also for concerts, exhibitions, receptions and celebrations of Slovenian holidays.
Father Krizolog, who has headed the church for a quarter of a century, said it was "a great achievement" for Slovenian culture and spirit to persevere in the global metropolis that is New York.
Krizolog said the church also showed how Franciscans "followed our people, to serve them spiritually and to help them." "Franciscans have that in our blood," he stressed.
Archbishop Zore, who is also a Franciscan, said helping emigrants had been a chief mission of the order. "Emigrants would be received in ports, they were helped with employment and lodging, and their spiritual needs were served," he said.