Former pastor at Epiphany Church facing child pornography charges

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Monsignor Harry J. Byrne

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, a former pastor of Epiphany Church, Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, was charged with possessing dozens of images of child pornography.

The now 96-year-old retired priest of the Catholic Church allegedly had photos of girls as young as eight on his computer performing sex acts with men or posing naked. Additionally, according to an investigation conducted by Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, Byrne even viewed the images in front of many other people at his retirement home, the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in the Bronx.

“People at his residence were subjected to it when they entered his room,” said Clark in a written statement. “Anyone who views child pornography supports horrific child exploitation.”

The monsignor was indicted on 37 counts of possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child and 37 counts of possession of a sexual performance by a child.

The investigation began five months ago after Clark’s office got a complaint about Byrne. The investigation concluded that he allegedly sought out images of young girls (aged 8-14) by using Google and Bing.

If convicted of the top charge, Byrne could face four years in prison and have to register as a sex offender.

Byrne, who worked at Epiphany from 1982-1996, where he retired from, pled not guilty to all the charges on Tuesday. He was arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary and was released. He is due back in court on January 17.

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Send-off fit for a prince-ipal

Epiphany’s James Hayes steps down after 38 years

Epiphany principal James Hayes was surprised by a flash mob of students, parents and alumni on Friday morning. He will remain with the school by heading its fundraising arm. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Epiphany principal James Hayes was surprised by a flash mob of students, parents and alumni on Friday morning. He will remain with the school by heading its fundraising arm. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, June 17, James Hayes, the principal of the Epiphany School for the past 38 years, had intended to treat his last day on the job like any other — by standing out front and greeting the students as they came in.

But this time, when he opened the door, there was a crowd of nearly 200 people outside — students, parents, alumni and neighbors. Before he was fully aware what was going on, the flash mob of fans then broke into song, belting out “I’d Do Anything” from the Broadway show “Oliver.”

They ended with, “We’d do anything for you, Jim, anything. For you mean everything to us.”

According to a parent, assembling the surprise serenade was necessary if the school wanted to give him any kind of sendoff, since he hadn’t wanted a party.

Nonetheless, Hayes seemed to appreciate the gesture, as students and alumni from decades ago lined up for photos with him in front of the school building on East 22nd Street.

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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.

Dolan: Epiphany a ‘light in the world’

Cardinal Timothy Dolan with Epiphany students during a 125th anniversary event for the school (Photos by Mollie O'Mara)

Cardinal Timothy Dolan with Epiphany students during a 125th anniversary event for the school (Photos by Mollie O’Mara)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, made a special appearance at Epiphany Church last weekend to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of the parish’s school.

During a mass held on Saturday night, Dolan showered praise on the school, which has been doing well financially, unlike so many other Catholic institutions in New York City, which have seen attendance and interest dwindle.

For the last three years we have been going through the painful but necessary process of making painful decisions to close and merge schools,” Dolan said.

As we’re getting somber news, we’re here now talking about a school that works. (Epiphany) not only works but flourishes and prospers as a light in the world. It does my heart good to come here. I needed this.”

After the mass was a reception in which Dolan spent time greeting and hugging the students, parents and parishioners that wanted to meet him, while holding a beer in his hand. He also put his red skullcap on students’ heads when posing for pictures.

He’s a very warm and caring individual,” said Jim Hayes, who’s been the Epiphany School’s principal for more than 30 years. “He made sure that everyone who wanted to meet him got a chance to talk to him.”

He also called the service by Dolan “beautiful,” adding that it had always been part of plan to have the cardinal be part of the 125th anniversary celebration.

It was one of the nicest liturgies we’ve had here in a number of years,” said Hayes. “The church was packed and it was a wonderful experience for everybody.”

Monsignor Leslie Ivers with Cardinal Dolan at Epiphany Church

Monsignor Leslie Ivers with Cardinal Dolan at Epiphany Church

Hayes has known the cardinal for about four years but the principal said that this is the first time the archbishop has lead mass at the church.

Following the service, parishioners and parents attending a reception expressed their appreciation for the school and for Dolan.

He could open for Bruce Springsteen,” said Michael Gargiulo, who has been a parishioner at the church

for more than 50 years and whose now-grown children went to Epiphany School.

He’s got a common touch; he’s relatable to people.”

Gargiulo, who moved to the neighborhood when he got married, said he and his wife had initially planned to move again to the suburbs. They never made it out of the city though and both of their kids ended up at Epiphany.

This was the foundation to build on for a good education,” Gargiulo said. “The best aspect of this school is the involvement of parents and families with the school. That’s what makes it great.”

Ed Maher, who lives in the Lower East Side and currently has a daughter attending the school, said that he comes to Epiphany events for the sense of community.

We don’t really have a community in our neighborhood downtown so we come up here for that,” he said.

Chris McCartin, who also currently has a child enrolled and lives farther downtown, agreed that the school offers a more small-town experience within New York.

Coming here (to school events) reminds me of my little town on Long Island,” he said. “It’s a no-nonsense education with a lot of great people.”

Cardinal Dolan with Epiphany School teachers

Cardinal Dolan with Epiphany School teachers

 

Epiphany School celebrates 125 years, Cardinal Dolan will attend anniversary event on Jan. 18

Epiphany School's principal of 35 years, Jim Hayes, at a 125th anniversary event for alumni in November (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Epiphany School’s principal of 35 years, Jim Hayes, at a 125th anniversary event for alumni in November (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

By Sabina Mollot

In a day and age when many Catholic institutions, in particular churches and schools are disappearing, one has managed to not only remain financially secure but thrive, and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary.

That institution would be the Epiphany School, where enrollment recently increased by 5 percent and

Cardinal Dolan, pictured during a visit to Immaculate Conception Church in 2010, will be visiting Epiphany. (Photo by Andrew Park)

Cardinal Dolan, pictured during a visit to Immaculate Conception Church in 2010, will be visiting Epiphany. (Photo by Andrew Park)

where Cardinal Timothy Dolan will help celebrate the landmark anniversary with a special mass and reception later this month.

Jim Hayes, the school’s principal of 35 years, told Town & Village that he credits the school’s continued growth to a few factors.

One is a foundation that holds frequent fundraisers for parents and alumni. Another has been a steady level of support, financially and otherwise from parents, in part possible due to the school’s lower than average tuition for a parochial school — $7,000. Then there’s the recent launch of a program for three and four-year-olds at the school’s 28th Street building, which also houses grades 4-8. Students in grades K-3 learn at the 22nd Street facility near the church. The new program, meanwhile, has attracted more students, so much so that there’s a waiting list. In total, Epiphany has around 600 students, up from 250 in 1980.

This has meant, said Hayes, that the school is financially independent from the church, other than the fact that the church owns the school’s buildings.

Previously, the school’s student population had mostly come from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village but at this time, kids from the ST/PCV community make up only about 40 percent of the student body. A small percentage of the students come from the outer boroughs, but most are still walking distance from school, and the new program for younger kids has attracted more families from the Murray Hill, Kips Bay and Turtle Bay neighborhoods.

“There are more and more kids from the East Side up to the 40s and 50s,” said Hayes. As for those in ST/PCV, the dwindling enrollment from there has mainly to do with rising rents, a pattern school officials first noticed a decade ago. “The writing on the wall has been there for a while,” said Hayes. “Those guys are getting priced out.”

Meanwhile, being situated near Gramercy Park, the school has always had a steady stream of Gramercy students. Gramercy Park itself hasn’t changed much though all the recent development of condo buildings in Gramercy has brought more families to the area.

For them, despite the crowding and other challenges faced by local public schools, the biggest draw to Epiphany is still the religious curriculum, said Hayes.

“We haven’t given up our Catholic identity,” he said. “We teach religion every day.”

Interestingly, at this time, ten percent of the school’s students aren’t even Catholic, but are, among other faiths, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist. Those students, said Hayes, “learn about the Catholic faith as a subject the same way they’d learn about literature. We’re not trying to convert them.”

And the diversity hasn’t seemed to hurt the school’s fundraising efforts.

A recent walkathon raised over $100,000 for the school’s foundation. A 125th anniversary reception for alumni in November attracted 350 people with many tickets priced at $125. For the past few years, there’s also been a car raffle. For this revenue earner, the foundation has managed to get a Mercedes at cost and then make money through the sale of $100 raffle tickets. Last time, 700 tickets were sold. Through these and other various fundraising efforts, which include golf games and basketball games, the school’s foundation has been pulling in $750,000-$900,000 a year.

Guests, mainly alumni, pack a reception for the 125th anniversary of the school, held in November. (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Guests, mainly alumni, pack a reception for the 125th anniversary of the school, held in November. (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

John Link is the director of development for Epiphany’s foundation, which was launched in 1999. Since then, he said the foundation has held different types of fundraisers in the hopes of attracting supporters who are newer to Epiphany and the area and tend to give more as well as the more longterm supporters like parents and alumni who have less money but tend to give small amounts consistently. The latter group also tends to be helpful in the volunteering department, noted Link.

“They want to volunteer and they’re just very passionate individuals,” he said.

As for the money that gets raised, Hayes said Epiphany’s been able to provide educational tools for students, like iPads to do their work on as well as Smartboards in every classroom — items that are normally reserved for much pricier private schools. At Epiphany, all sixth, seventh and eighth graders get their own iPads to use, while for those in the younger grades, it’s one iPad for every two kids.

“So we’re really pushing the envelope with technology,” said Hayes.

The only challenge the school is currently facing, he said, is that more space is needed for more would-be students. For parents looking to get their kids to the top of the waiting list, it helps, said Hayes, to have some ties with the parish, or if they’re new to the area, ties to the parish where they’re from.

Epiphany kids, noted Hayes, tend to be involved in programs beyond their classes, like basketball on Saturdays or mass on Sundays.

“It’s a seven day week with basketball and mass,” he said, explaining what he feels the school’s identity has to separate it from other religious schools. “Other schools might not be so community based. Maybe they’re more transient-based. We’re like a suburban school in Manhattan.”

Epiphany students at a food drop event (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Epiphany students at a food drop event (Photo courtesy of Epiphany School)

Anyone interested in attending the mass and reception to be attended by Cardinal Dolan, which will be held on January 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Church of the Epiphany at 375 Second Avenue and 22nd Street, should call the school’s Office of Development at (212) 473-6158. Tickets are $60. Those looking to attend the mass only with Dolan should contact the church at (212) 475-1966 ahead of time.

This will be the last of the school’s 125th anniversary events, with the main one being the alumni reception in November, held at the Yale Club. (The Church of the Epiphany this year is celebrating its 146th anniversary.)

Epiphany School first opened its doors on September 10 of 1888 by principal Sister Mary Verena Fitzpatrick. On that first day of school, there were 84 girls and 60 boys.