Blessing of the Animals

(Photo by Joseph Torre)

Over the past two weekends, a number of local churches have held “Blessing of the Animals” ceremonies, in which parishioners are invited to bring their pets for just that purpose. The events are timed to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. This past Saturday, at Church of the Epiphany’s ceremony, Father Austin Titus led the ceremony for local pooches and a guinea pig (pictured above). Another ceremony was held on the West Side at the Church of St. Francis Xavier (pictured below). Guests included a turtle, a service dog (shown in jacket) and quite a few other dogs.

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Blessing of the Animals at Immaculate Conception

Father Francis Buu welcomes another pooch to the parish.

On Saturday, Immaculate Conception Church held its annual Blessing of the Animals event, a church tradition timed around observances of the Feast of St. Francis Assisi, the patron saint of animals. All of the owners of the four-legged guests — dogs of all shapes and sizes mainly — also got to go home with special certificates. At least one cat owner was successful in getting her pet out of its carrier for the ritual, which is always a well-attended one. The Catholic Church on East 14th Street will have another celebration next Sunday when Monsignor Kevin Nelan celebrates the 40th anniversary of his ordination. A mass will take place at 1 p.m., a reception at 2 p.m.

Photos by Moriah Sterling

Epiphany looks back on blaze that destroyed original church

Firefighters put out the fire that destroyed the Epiphany Church’s original location in 1963. Fifty years ago, the church reopened in a new location. (Town & Village photo)

Firefighters put out the fire that destroyed the Epiphany Church’s original location in 1963. Fifty years ago, the church reopened in a new location. (Town & Village photo)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Epiphany Church on Second Avenue will be celebrating a number of milestone anniversaries in the next year, beginning with the 50th anniversary this coming week of the congregation’s reopening after a devastating fire. The blaze gutted the church only five days before Christmas in 1963, on December 20, destroying a landmarked building that had been in the neighborhood since 1870. The church was able to reopen exactly three years later in 1966.

“The new building didn’t even have pews for that first mass, just folding chairs, but they wanted to have the service on the same day as the fire to show how quickly the community came together,” parishioner Richard Sawicki said of the new building’s reopening.

Sawicki, who currently lives on Second Avenue across from Epiphany, was not a member of the church at the time of the fire but joined the congregation not long after the new building opened, and has been interested in the church’s history for a number of years.

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Town & Village School welcomes new principal

New principal Nina Loftspring (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

New principal Nina Loftspring (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village Synagogue welcomed a new face to their Hebrew School at the beginning of the summer. Nina Loftspring joined the staff as the principal in July and said she’s been busy since then preparing for the beginning of the school year on September 8.

She’s confident that she’ll be able to do everything she needs to but “You always want more time to get everything ready,” she said. “I always want to start preparing in February!”

It wasn’t by chance that Loftspring ended up at Town & Village. Although she has since moved out of the area, she is a former resident of Stuy Town and appreciates that the synagogue is a small, tight-knit community.

“The kids aren’t just a number or a face in the crowd,” she said. “(Town & Village) knows their families and their commitment is seen through everything they do. It’s a very authentic community.”

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Man tries to lure girl at school fair

By Sabina Mollot
A man attempted to lure a girl at a street fair that was held by the Jack and Jill School two Saturdays ago, Town & Village has learned.

According to a spokesperson for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, an unknown man approached a six-year-old girl at the event, and asked where her dad was. He then told her she should go with him because he was her uncle, police said.

The school event was held on a public street.

The school event was held on a public street.

Mary Carroll French, the director at the school, told Town & Village that while she wasn’t a witness to the incident, she heard after the fact how a man had approached a former student who was at the event and spoke to her.

“It was what the NYPD would call attempted luring,” said Carroll French. But, she added, the girl didn’t respond to him. Additionally, the girl’s father was nearby as was another father and a sexton at the school.

“The sexton had his eye on him and was watching him,” she said. The sexton, then realizing the man was a stranger, shooed the man away and he left with his bike, although Carroll French said she didn’t know if he was riding it.

She noted that since the fair was held on a public street, East 16th Street between Rutherford Place and Third Avenue, anyone could walk through. The event was held from noon to 4 p.m. and Carroll French said she believed the man strode through later in the event. She added that parents at the school, which is for kids ages 2-5, have been alerted.

Police described the man as being black or Hispanic, approximately 6 ft. 1 in. and has curly or wavy hair.

The man’s actions were also mentioned in an email blast to neighbors from the Gramercy Park Block Association this past Tuesday. The email quotes a brief letter sent to parents from another local school that referred to the incident as an attempted kidnapping.

Last weekend, when another local school had a street fair, a couple of police officers were stationed nearby and this time there were no incidents, police said.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these concerts, historic tours and other events

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum presents the tour, “Irish Outsiders,” in the restored home of an Irish-Catholic immigrant family. (Photo courtesy of Tenement Museum)

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum presents the tour, “Irish Outsiders,” in the restored home of an Irish-Catholic immigrant family. (Photo courtesy of Tenement Museum)

By Sabina Mollot
This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on Tuesday, March 17, and for those looking for a way to celebrate the day when everyone’s Irish (that doesn’t necessarily involve pounding down pints of Guinness), Town & Village has you covered. Read on for information on some local events celebrating Irish culture and/or St. Patrick on Tuesday and throughout the week.

On Friday, March 13 from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., the Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East 4th Street, presents the “Spirit of the Irish Candlelight Ghost Tour.” On this candlelit tour, guests will learn the history of the house where eight people died, and hear true tales of inexplicable occurrences from those who actually experienced them. Many of the most peculiar occurrences have been related to the Tredwells’ Irish servants, and so this special tour will include the 4th floor servants’ quarters. The New York Times has called the Merchant’s House “Manhattan’s Most Haunted House.” Admission is $25, $15 for museum members. For more information, call (212) 777-1089 or visit merchantshouse.org.

Mar12 Noel Hill

Concertina player Noel Hill will perform on Friday as part of NYU’s “Blarney Star Concert Series.”

On Friday, March 13 at 8 p.m., New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House presents “The Blarney Star Concert Series” with Noel Hill and Martin O’Connell. Concertina player Noel Hill, of County Clare, is known for revolutionizing the sound of the little hexagonal-ended squeezebox, bringing to it a repertoire and chordal accompaniment style borrowed from the uilleann piping tradition. For this show, he’ll perform with Martin O’Connell, a younger Kerry native who’ll play the two-row button box accordion.
Free admission to NYU students and faculty with a valid ID card. For non-members, a $15 donation at the door for the Blarney Star Concert Series is requested. Tickets are available at the door only; no reservations will be accepted. For more information, call (212) 998-3950.

On Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, March 15 at noon, Big Onion Tours presents a guided walk through the former “Little Ireland” district of the Lower East Side, between City Hall and Houston Street. This family friendly tour will explain why St. Patrick’s Day is more popular here than in Ireland. Stops could include: the founding site of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Al Smith’s home, the Five Points, the first Catholic church in the city, and sites associated with Tammany Hall, Thomas Addis Emmet, and many others. The group will meet directly in front of St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway between Fulton and Vesey Streets. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for full-time students with ID and seniors 65 and up. Paying in advance is suggested at http://www.bigonion.com.

On Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m., the Merchant’s House Museum presents the “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration: A Tribute to the Tredwells’ Irish Servants.” This tour will invite participants to climb the house’s narrow staircase to the newly restored fourth-floor servants’ quarters and see where the Tredwells’ four Irish servants lived and did some of their work. The tour will explain why it would have been impossible to run a home like the Merchant’s House without them.
Admission is $10, $5 students and seniors, free for children under 12. Reservations not required. For more information, call (212) 777-1089 or visit merchantshouse.org.

On Sunday, March 15 at 3 p.m., the Church of the Epiphany at East 22nd Street and Second Avenue presents a free concert with Epiphany’s Adult Choir and guest instrumentalists. The program will include Irish and St. Patrick’s Day related hymns from the chorus with more Irish and Irish-inspired music in a variety of genres from guest professional singers and instrumentalists, including drummers, flutists and harp players.

Stuyvesant Town fitness instructor Tim Haft will present two holiday themed classes (followed by happy hour drinking at Otto’s Shrunken Head for those looking to balance holiday debauchery with something healthy).
Haft will offer his weekly Punk Rope class on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street. Admission is $12. His new MoshFit class, offered weekly at Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street, will take place on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:15-7 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-wish with a suggested amount of $12. Both classes will be followed by happy hour at Otto’s with drafts and well drinks priced at $4 (Monday from 8:30-11 p.m., Tuesday until 8 p.m.) For more information, visit punkrope.com/mosh-fit.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard Street, is offering a tour of the restored home of the Moore family, Irish-Catholic immigrants who started a new life in Kleindeutschland (now the East Village). The tour reveals how this family dealt with being “outsiders” at 97 Orchard, and how the Irish more broadly created a strong sense of American Irish identity through the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This “Irish Outsiders” tour, which is recommended for ages 12 and up, is actually offered daily a few times a day. On Tuesday, March 17, it’s given at 12:15, 3:15, 3:45, 4:15 and 4:45 p.m. For schedules on other days throughout the week, call (877) 975-3786 or visit http://www.tenement.org. Booking tours online is recommended since some tours sell out. Admission is $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors.

Mar12 Da

Irish Repertory Theatre is currently running the show “Da,” at the theater’s temporary space at DR2 Theatre. (Photo by Carol Rosegg)

Irish Repertory Theatre, which stages works by Irish and Irish-American playwrights, is currently running the show “Da,” at the theater’s temporary space at DR2 Theatre, 101 E. 15th St., through April 5. “Da” runs eight times each week, including on St. Patrick’s Day, with Tuesday performances at 7 p.m.
In this play by Hugh Leonard, a man named Charlie returns to his childhood home in Dublin in 1968 after his father’s funeral only to find the stubborn patriarch’s ghost unwilling to leave the house. Immediately, Charlie and his father (his “da”) start bickering as they did in life. Town & Village theater critic Peter Von Mayrhauser recently called the banter “wildly funny,” noting that “playwright Leonard has a great ear for Irish blarney.” Director is Charlotte Moore. Tickets are $70 and can be bought online at irishrep.org or by calling (212) 727-2737.

Nude literary salon “Naked Girls Reading” will present works by Irish authors. (Photo by Angela McConnell)

Nude literary salon “Naked Girls Reading” will present works by Irish authors. (Photo by Angela McConnell)

Horse Trade Theater Group presents “Naked Girls Reading: The Emerald Isle,” on Wednesday, March 18 at from 8-10 p.m. at Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Pl. “Naked Girls Reading” is a monthly literary salon featuring readings by local burlesque performers and others who strip down to nothing.
This month, readers will share literature, history, musings and more by and about Ireland’s greatest authors: classics by Oscar Wilde and James Joyce; selections from contemporary authors; traditional folk tales and stories; and musings on the demon Drink by authors from Ireland and beyond.
Host Nasty Canasta will be joined by Evelyn Vinyl, Nina La Voix and Stormy Leather for this in-the-buff celebration, which they’ve promised will not involve green beer or foam leprechaun hats. Cover is $25 (two for $40). For tickets, visit http://www.horsetrade.info/under-st-marks.