Holy Trinity moves forward

Sept 1-7. 2005
VOL 124 NO. 29
Holy Trinity moves forward
By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
New church emerges from combining three parishes

BINGHAMTON — It’s been just over a year since parishioners at the Church of the Holy Trinity moved into their new worship space. A merger of three ethnic parishes officially took place on July 1, 2003. Bishop James Moynihan celebrated a dedication Mass on June 12, 2004, in a renovated building which shares memories from St. Ann’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Stanislaus Kostka Parishes.

“We didn’t close two churches and move into St. Ann’s, we closed three churches and started fresh,” said Diane Salva, a member of the Liturgy and Worship Committee.

“You needed all of them to close and we all had a new beginning in a church that I am extremely proud of. Not that I wasn’t with my old parish, but I just burst with pride when I talk about Holy Trinity.”

The new parish sign sits off Prospect Street, up the hill next to the church. Behind that is a courtyard with statues from each of the three former parishes. Red and white flowers are neatly planted in small plots in the area between the parish office and the church.

Inside, a number of elements were incorporated from St. Ann’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Stan’s, but there are also features unique to Holy Trinity. The square wooden altar, with a box underneath containing relics, is just a few feet away from the front pews. A warm green color highlights the wall behind the tabernacle. New fixtures replace hanging lights, which opened more space to the ceiling. Large speakers at the side of the sanctuary seem to meld to the wall.

Holy Trinity is melded, too. Strong Slovak, Lithuanian and Polish backgrounds of three separate parishes have become a part of a new tradition reflected in the parish mission statement.

“To unite all people into a peaceful, loving Roman Catholic community with respect for ethnic diversity. Founded on Gospel Values, our community will strive to be understanding and forgiving, while encouraging commitment and involvement in both parish and community. Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we will treat everyone with respect and dignity.”

Although it’s been a year since the new church opened, memories of St. Ann’s, St. Stan’s and St. Joseph’s remain. Some who couldn’t take the loss, moved to other parishes, or even other denominations. Holy Trinity’s founding parishioners remember the past, but focus on the future.

“I think people are becoming more comfortable and deciding that it is their church,” said parishioner Ann Marie Lenkiewicz. “I think the hurt is still probably going to be there. I think that takes a lot of years for that to go away. If it ever goes away, you know, because you’ve lost your church. But we’ve started a new one and I think it’s been very positive.”

“We’ve been through our first of everything. It’s like when someone dies. You have to survive that first Easter, that first Christmas, that first birthday. We’ve done all that now,” said Marie Lukasik, of the Liturgy and Worship Committee.

The group met on a recent evening to discuss how to proceed with new projects.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and money into designing the new worship space and we’ve done a lot with liturgies,” Lukasik said. “Now we’re at a point where this group is going to start decorating the worship space. We’re kind of celebrating the whole mystery, but also creating an environment where people feel welcome.”

More than a dozen groups are active at Holy Trinity. They range from the traditional like Altar and Rosary and Holy Name Societies to the Knights of Lithuania. Committees include Mission and Action, Spiritual Formation, and Building and Grounds. Parishioners also volunteer time with funeral brunches, religious education and youth, music, bingo and more.

“I think we’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in just over a year.“ Lukasik said “I think our in-house ministries aregrowing. We’re always looking for new people to get involved.”

“We try to tweak things,” added Diane Salva. “We’re no longer stuck in ‘this is the way we always did it.’ We’re free to try new things if it goes over, great. If it doesn’t, well then we tried.”

Brother Ed Falsey, OFM Conv., administrator of Holy Trinity, said there was a success at Christmas in the gathering space at the front of the church.

“We decided just to put one big huge tree there and have everyone bring their ethnic ornaments. Or for the people who aren’t connected to their ethnic roots, just bring in an ornament. It was phenomenal to watch the older people come in and look for their ornaments,” Falsey noted. “And to watch the little kids come in and look for the ornaments that their family had made or brought in.”

Salva saw that experience as a turning point for the new parish.

“I think that’s when it finally, truly jelled and that was only six months after we opened the doors to the new church. It was a moving time for everybody. “

Brother Ed is looking ahead to another opportunity for Holy Trinity, to reach out to Binghamton’s First Ward neighborhood. He envisions an evangelization project with nearby St. Cyril’s and the Franciscans who serve both parishes.

“What can we do to reach out to the local community? It’s been a theme for me all the way through,” Brother Ed said. “How are we going to form this new community?”

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