From the Pastor: Vision Statement Implementation Plan

Dear Parishioners,

I am delighted to inform you that the Vision Statement Implementation Plan was distributed at all Masses on the weekend of 18-19 November. With its publication, we now begin the task of bringing to life the vision that we have for our parish.

The path before us will not always be easy, but by embracing the implementation plan as a shared responsibility, together we will succeed in creating the paradigm of what it means to be a parish church in the 21st century. We will taste and see the joy of discipleship.

Our goal is praiseworthy. It is easily within our reach if we work together. Please join us in this endeavor to bring greater glory to God through the ways in which we live and celebrate what it means to be parishioners of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit guide us in all our actions as we begin the process of implementing our Vision Statement.

God bless you!

— Fr. Yesalonia

From the Pastor: September 10, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

To those of you who have been away for the summer months, welcome home! For those who remained in the City throughout the summer, congratulations! You survived another one. And to those who join us remotely through our livestreamed Masses, we are delighted you are members of our parish community.

The pace of the parish certainly slowed during the summer months. However, that is not to say that the parish staff and many of the ministries of the parish were not hard at work. I am grateful for the dedication of our Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, and altar servers throughout the summer. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul continued its good work. Our Ignatian Social Justice Ministry was particularly invested in accompanying migrant families in the City. Many of our parish ministries enjoyed social events among themselves to recharge their batteries and plan for the coming year.

I am also grateful for the dedication of the parish priests who worked throughout the summer and also enjoyed some time away for their vacations. We were blessed by the presence of a few Jesuits who filled in the gaps during the summer, especially Father Matt Cortese, who interrupted his doctoral studies at the University of Notre Dame to be with us for several weeks.

We begin our “new year” this weekend as we resume our full weekend schedule of Masses. Our coffee hour begins again, following the 11:00 AM Masses. We will also have the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the various ministries of the parish and hopefully join at least one of them. I understand there will also be some live musical entertainment to accompany our milling about on Park Avenue and 84th Street.

Next weekend the Wallace Hall Family Mass and 11:00 AM Solemn Mass communities will come together for our Festival Mass. We will use that occasion to celebrate Father Hilbert’s 50th Jubilee as a Jesuit. There will be a reception in McKinnon Hall immediately following the Mass.

Finally, the final phase of our parish planning process will conclude in the Fall with the publication of our Implementation Plan. I mentioned this in this weekend’s bulletin essay and will write more about what this means for all of us as we roll out the plan.

What a joy it is for us to return home to our parish and begin afresh, filled with hope for the coming year and the future of our beloved parish.

God bless you!

Sincerely in the Lord,

Fr. Yesalonia

ISJ Essay: College Mentoring Program St. Ignatius Loyola and LSA Partnership

“I didn’t think I was going to college.” “It was a pleasure, a joy, one of the most satisfying engagements of my life.” These are quotes expressed by a mentee and a mentor during the celebration of our fledgling LSA-ISJ College Access Program, held at Wallace Hall on Saturday, June 3rd. The hall was transformed, the tables were adorned with graduation decorations, and the proud achievements of our graduates were run on a loop on the video screen. The LSA moms contributed delicious home-cooked food. St. Ignatius brought drinks, cheese, fruit, and cookies.

Melina Gonzalez, LSA, and Fr. Yesalonia welcomed everyone to the celebration. Each mentor spoke in glowing tributes about their student and presented them with a graduation certificate and a gift card. The students expressed gratitude to their mentors and the College Access Program. It was the culmination of a year’s work with students and mentors, supplemented with guidance from parents, Melina, and Lucia. During his welcome, Fr. Yesalonia gave sage advice to the graduates, expressed the importance of continuing their education, and highlighted our faith’s role in providing support.  

Last year when the program started, one of the students wanted to go to a top-tier school. Nick Naccari and Fran Magenheimer mentored her and delighted in her growth. She received a full scholarship to Holy Cross and will start this fall. Fr. Yesalonia was proud to inform us that this graduate would attend his alma mater. Another student joined the program with no ambition to go to college. She just wanted to please her mother. After a few months of work with Dolores and Terry Quinn, the student realized that she could not only succeed in college but also develop her artistic talent in her dream school. She was awarded a full scholarship to FIT. Another student who was hesitant to go to college grew confident under Peter Wood’s guidance and will start at CUNY Hostos Community College. Christine Meyer mentored our fourth student. She is interested in aeronautics and chose CUNY York for its Aviation Institute. Laura Silvius’s mentee will matriculate at Baruch in the fall. We are so proud and in awe of the students and their mentors.

Next year, our mentors will continue to mentor their students during their first year in college. We’ve also matched up four rising seniors with ISJ mentors and are grateful for our robust partnership with LSA. For next year’s graduates, the program has already begun. Some of the families were in attendance at Saturday’s celebration, as this event marked both an end and a beginning of what we endeavor to be a cycle of success.

— Jimmy Coffey

Essay: Book Launch for Just Church by Dr. Phyllis Zagano

Recently, Phyllis Zagano, PhD., a leading expert on the theology and history of woman deacons in the early Church, gave a lecture in Wallace Hall promoting her newest book, Just Church: Catholic Social Teaching, Synodality, and Women. She is highly regarded internationally as a scholar and lecturer on spirituality and the restoration of women deacons in the Catholic Church. Dr. Zagano was appointed to the papal commission for the study of the diaconate of women.

The lecture was inspirational, and Dr. Zagano engaged the audience to think about the Synodal process happening in the Church right now. Pope Francis is encouraging change to come from us as members of the Roman Catholic Church and has established pathways for lay women to vote in the Synod. Progress is emerging in the new synodal process as women’s voices are being heard and the hierarchy is listening, thanks to Pope Francis.

However, even though the new synodal progress is encouraging, Dr. Zagano points out, “despite the many topics that touch on the experiences of women, Catholic social justice principles as they are, or are not, applied to women.”

In response to the study of women becoming ordained into the diaconate, Dr. Zagano reminds us that this would be a Restorative practice. St. Phoebe was one of the first female deacons who evangelized with St. Paul. During this very important Synod, the time is here for us to learn about the women deacons who preached the Good News.

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate

May 28, 2023 Essay: Notes from Some of Our New Catholics…

The RCIA experience was unlike anything I have ever participated in; it allowed me to look inward and connect with my fellow Catechumens. It was both a spiritual and an educational journey for me to learn about Catholicism and build upon my relationship with God through the bible, sessions, and attending Sunday Mass with my RCIA group. I also gained valuable relationships with those involved in the St. Ignatius community. Ultimately, I am grateful that I was able to partake in such a beautiful journey, which I know will continue to impact every aspect of my life positively.  — Naomi Minato


My spiritual journey has finally put me on the right track to the Catholic Church! Some of it is thanks to my interest in history and theology, yes, but in a deeper sense, I found warmth in the Gospels, the teaching of Christ, and its uniqueness compared to other faiths. I’d also have to give credit to the late Pope Benedict XVI and his speeches, along with his beautiful writings, as they drew me closer to the Church. One of them is his Apostolic letter “Porta Fidei,” which brilliantly illustrates how we must feel it in our hearts while also having knowledge of faith. Doing so “opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God”. — Tayyab M


For the past ten years or so, I have been struggling with depression and anxiety. Having tried everything else, I resolved to investigate the Christian faith further. As I began to research Christianity, I found the most reasonable path to be the Catholic one.  I was recommended the St. Ignatius RCIA because of its reputation as being a rigorous program. What I found was a wonderful class full of like-minded individuals. Being able to participate fully in the liturgy gives me hope. When I have hope, I feel like all things are possible. — Anonymous


After being baptized, the shadow that lingered left me. My energy is light and alive. I move about with more freedom and fullness, with comfort and vulnerability. The divine shield that has protected me slackens so that I may enjoy God’s presence not only interiorly but externally as well. Light consumes all, and my courtship with Christ has ended in my Union with the church. — Courtney Loftin


Catholicism was something that was always a part of my life. Growing up in a Vietnamese community, I was baptized Catholic and attended church, but was never able to truly understand the Scripture passages. Thus, I was never able to connect spiritually. As I matured, I thought about my life as a future husband and father. I realized that my sense of spirituality was missing, and I needed to be in touch with my faith — not only to be the best version of myself but also the best version of myself to my family. I am truly grateful that I was able to find this church and was able to connect to my faith. My family and I have a faith community to attend for generations to come. — Jonathan Le


After being connected to Father Yesalonia by a family friend, who is a priest and officiated at my wedding, I was inspired to explore Catholicism further. Seeking to develop a closer relationship with God and unite my family, I pursued baptism and have found a deep sense of peace and purpose in my newfound faith. I’m grateful for the guidance and support of the RCIA and church community, and I look forward to continuing on my journey of faith with an open heart and mind. — Ken Chang






ISJ Essay: What is College? A Workshop with Regis and LSA Students

We are grateful to Lisa Peterson, Director of College Counseling, Guidance Counselor, and College Advisor at Regis High School for presenting her “What is College?” workshop to a group of LSA (Little Sisters of the Assumption) Health and Family Services high school students and their parents on Friday, May 5th.

The audience was made up of eight families, predominantly sophomores and juniors, including recent asylum seekers. Lisa is fluent in Spanish and English, courtesy of growing up as a child of Cuban migrant parents, and is ideally suited to present this workshop. Lisa stressed from the beginning and repeated throughout the presentation, that anybody can attend college if they are willing to put in the work and we are there to support them. I consider these workshops a success if these families can come away with the knowledge that this country wants their children to attend college and there are various opportunities and support systems available to them from both the colleges and the government.

This knowledge may be something we take for granted based on our experiences, but for many families of first-generation college applicants, this will be the first time that they become aware of these opportunities, and discover the newly found freedom and the hope that it inspires. Lisa presented handouts in Spanish and English and presented in Spanish with a splash of English acronyms.

A key moment for me was when Lisa asked the audience if they were familiar with CUNY, and they genuinely were not. The enormity of the challenge facing these families was plain to be seen and the value of these workshops was never more evident. I was delighted to see Lisa visit with the families at their tables after the presentation was over. This gesture demonstrates that she is keenly aware of the family and cultural dynamics at play and that some questions are easier to ask in private rather than in front of an audience. I came away from this workshop with the assurance that no matter what obstacles to college first come to mind, there are solutions to be found in the pink, yellow, and green handouts.

— Jimmy Coffey

How To Go “All In” For Peace: No More Velleities!

Recently, Frida Berrigan gave her reflection for our Lectures at St. Ignatius series in our church. She engaged the audience with stories of her parents, Phil Berrigan and Elizabeth McAllister, and her childhood years spent at Jonah House with her siblings in Baltimore, MD. She recalled days of “dumpster diving” for fruit and vegetables that were considered not worthy to sell in supermarkets. She recalled how Jonah House, made up of peace activists in the Catholic Worker tradition, became family to each other, and these were the people who took care of her and her siblings if her parents were both in jail at the same time.

Although Frida had quite an unusual childhood, she is thoughtful and soft-spoken and adds humor to her stories. Another important person in her life was her Uncle Dan. Dan Berrigan, S.J., was a poet, peacemaker, anti-war activist, and Jesuit priest. She entitled her lecture, How To Go “All In” For Peace: No More Velleities! She quoted her Uncle Dan, “We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total—but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial. So a whole will and a whole heart and a whole national life bent toward war prevail over the velleities of peace.”

Velleity is the weakest form of volition, a desire that one has no energy or intention to fulfill. Frida urged the audience to go all in. “No more velleities! No more half-tries, no more vague attempts, no more vacillation. All in. All together. The work is clear: Reconnect estranged family members, reweave tattered human connections, restore frayed trust, reforge bonds between people, repair the damage done by decades (no centuries) of war. And do it all on a human scale. And bit by bit, connection by connection, person by person, we are creating new cultures—as Dorothy Day taught us—where it is easier for people to be good.”

 — Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate

ISJ Essay: The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola and the Parable of The Good Samaritan

A few weeks ago, Father Yesalonia challenged us to find ways to follow the example of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37. Here Jesus calls on us to spread God’s love in a spirit of compassion and care for our neighbors.


Members of the Social Justice Ministry accepted our pastor’s challenge and participated in Don’t Walk By, an annual winter outreach in collaboration with City Relief, Salvation Army, Bowery Mission, and other non-profit agencies. Volunteers canvassed Manhattan streets from midtown to the Battery, met dozens of homeless individuals, and invited them back to a host site in Chinatown for a nutritious meal, clothing, medical care, and referrals to city agencies that offer more support.


Today’s experience reinforced that part of my responsibility is to share my many blessings. It is hard to be complacent and take for granted that roof over my head, my three meals a day, and a simple pair of socks. The Parable of the Good Samaritan will continue to challenge me.


So what experiences/insights/thoughts did St. Ignatius volunteers have? Below are the comments from several parishioners who participated in the 2023 Don’t Walk By.


Jimmy Coffey: Our engagements on the streets of Midtown brought into sharp focus just how complicated a day in a vulnerable person’s life can be. My team encountered a man with nothing, not even a simple bag to store the socks we gave him. He was reluctant to accept a second pair as he didn’t want to deny another person the opportunity to have them. Today reminds us that we can take a lot for granted as we go about our busy yet safe and comfortable lives. 


Judith Rosenberger: My team worked well together. It shows where there’s a shared commitment, a bond will follow. I had the most success finding guests in the subway—I won’t need my Stairmaster after today! They accepted literature and socks and a bit of a chat. All in all, it was most worthwhile. I’m very grateful to have been able to take part.


Peter: Don’t Walk By is a chance to interact with our vulnerable brothers and sisters as our neighbors. After we visited with our last neighbor, my volunteer group debriefed over a late lunch in the community we served, discussed the extraordinary experience, and shared stories of our interactions with the homeless in our neighborhoods. We agreed to meet again and encourage those in our faith communities and beyond to engage with our neighbors—even if it’s just an acknowledgment with a hello and offering some food or beverage.


Dolores Troy-Quinn: A long day but a very worthwhile experience because it made the people I met on the street visible and worthy of human dignity. I am also awed by the dedication of so many people willing to give up a whole Saturday to connect with their homeless brothers and sisters.


Anne: I started our Walk thinking that “success” would be persuading our brothers and sisters on the street to go to the Bowery center for a lovely meal and access to shelter, healthcare, and other services. At the end of the day, I saw that the simple act of meeting, talking, and listening to those we met was also a success. We could engage them, letting them know that they were not invisible. These small acts on our part have led me to see that we don’t always need an organized event to support these persons on the street. We can do this anytime we choose.


Terry Quinn: Today’s experience reinforced my responsibility to share my many blessings. It is hard to be complacent and take for granted that roof over my head, my three meals a day, and a simple pair of socks. The Parable of the Good Samaritan will continue to challenge me.


Terry Quinn

ISJ Essay: An Afternoon of Prayer and Discovery

In January, St. Ignatius parishioners and members of the Ignatian Social Justice Ministry, Jimmy Coffey, Laura Cronin, Laura De Boisblanc, Anne Melanson, Christine Meyer, and Regan Orillac, traveled to McAllen and Brownsville, Texas, to volunteer with Fr. Brian Strassberger, S.J., and Fr. Louie Hotop, S.J., in their Border Ministry.

Inspired by the plight of our neighbors at the Texas and Reynosa, Mexico border, Migrant Stations of the Cross were designed last year by a previous group who volunteered. On a recent Saturday in Wallace Hall, Fr. Mark Hallinan, S.J., led parishioners in these Migrant Stations of the Cross, and after, Laura Cronin led a panel discussion.

Rosayra Pablo Cruz and her now-19-year-old son, Yordy Michicoj Pablo, who were separated at the border in 2016, began with their stories. Rosy authored The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border and is part of the upcoming Netflix documentary Split at the Root with Julie Schwietert Collazo, who spearheaded the grassroots foundation Immigrant Families Together.

Rosy and Yordy gave a compelling brief synopsis of their journey. They left Guatemala after Rosy’s husband was murdered. She was paying money to a drug cartel for protection, and when she stopped, they threatened to take Yordy. Rosy, Yordy, and her youngest son, Fernando, had to leave quickly. She left her two daughters behind with her mother. Rosy, Yordy, and Fernando were separated at the border in Arizona. Yordy and Fernando were taken to New York while Rosy remained in detention, wondering how she would make the $12,000 bond.

Rosy and other moms separated at the border caught the attention of a group of moms from Queens, New York, who created a GoFundMe for these detained mothers at the border. The New York Moms posted bond and organized a caravan of drivers to bring Rosy from Arizona to New York City to find her sons, Yordy and Fernando. They are now thriving and living in The Bronx.

After their presentation, Jimmy Coffey and Anne Melanson shared their poignant reflections from the border volunteerism with Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie, and Pastor Abraham from a Baptist Church in Brownsville.

If you are interested in volunteering to help asylum seekers who are in New York City, The Migrant Center at St. Francis of Assisi Church seeks volunteers. St. Francis is located at 135 West 31st Street and needs assistance on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate

ISJ Essay: Kino Border Initiative, Joanna Williams

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Joanna Williams, the Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), shared her experiences in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, along the U.S. southern border with a group of 18 St. Ignatius Loyola parishioners. What an inspiration and a delight to hear from such an accomplished Georgetown graduate about how KBI embodies “Migration with Dignity.”

The Kino Border Initiative, a bi-national organization that is affiliated with the Jesuits, provides humanitarian assistance, education and encounter between migrants and others, and advocacy to promote humane, just, and workable migration. Joanna has been the Executive Director since 2021, but her affiliation with the organization goes back more than a decade. She learned about KBI through an immersion trip organized by Georgetown University while she was a student there.

Because the Kino Border Initiative shelter’s physical location is on the Mexican side of the border, Joanna has a unique window into the hopes and dreams and the fears and challenges of many who migrate from Latin America. She shared the stories of several migrants with the group, including the story of Walter from Honduras. Walter lost his job when his company laid off most workers during the pandemic. Then, two terrible hurricanes wiped out his house and much of the infrastructure in his community. When he tried to rebuild, the area had been taken over by gangs and cartels. His brother-in-law was murdered, and Walter was told he was next. After several months of extortion and threats of violence, Walter felt as though he had no choice but to undertake the dangerous trek and seek asylum in the United States.

Stories like Walter’s are quite common along the border. The push of forced displacement often comes from several factors. In Walter’s case, a climate disaster, poverty, and gang violence all combined to make staying in Honduras impossible.

The Kino Border Initiatives’ current advocacy priorities suggest that we look for ways to meet with local representatives, write “Letters to the Editor,” and otherwise look to tell the story of the borderlands in our local communities. The two priorities that she stressed were (1) allowing those fleeing dangerous circumstances to access asylum at the border and (2) holding government agencies active at the border accountable for the humane treatment of all migrants.

She also welcomed all St. Ignatius Loyola parishioners to learn more about KBI, to partner with them in their amazing work, and to “come and see” how Catholic Social Teaching is put into action. If you would like more information about the Kino Border Initiative or about the parish’s work to support migrants in NYC, please contact [email protected].

— Christine Meyer