Time for a loaves-and-fishes miracle

Assumption Church pantry and soup kitchen closings create problem for needy

With the closing of Our Lady of Assumption Parish on Dec. 31 hundreds of parishioners will have to find a new church, and those in need will have to find another place to get a hot meal on the weekend or free monthly food supplies.
In September, the Newark Archdiocese announced that Bayonne would go from seven churches to four, with Our Lady of Assumption and St. Michael’s/St. Joseph’s closing and its parishioners joining Our Lady of Mount Carmel congregation on West 22nd Street, which is being renamed Pope John Paul II Parish.
St. Henry’s and St. Vincent De Paul churches will remain standalone parishes, while St. Mary Star of the Sea and St. Andrew the Apostle, which are already “linked” with a common pastor and office staff, combining to form one parish; Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich. A decision about which church of the two churches would close has not been announced.
Assumption leaders and parishioners fought the closing, with rallies in Bayonne and Newark and by signing a petition that was sent to the Vatican. Some parishioners said they would not attend Mt. Carmel or another church in Bayonne but would attend Mass in Jersey City.
Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Goodness said that Assumption’s Rev. Barbone will become pastor of St. James Church in Springfield.

The cupboard is bare

When Assumption closes, its Giordano Food Pantry will also close, no longer participating in the Cluster Soup Kitchen, which provides a hot dinner every Saturday for those in need.
The pantry was named after Deacon Bill Giordano, who started it in 1976.
The nonperishable goods in the food pantry may be unavailable to many who need them. Bayonne’s Catholic churches dispense food geographically.
“Some 130 families a month come through the food pantry here at Assumption,” said Janice Machin, food pantry co-chairperson. “If they live between the 19th and 42nd street boundaries, they will have nowhere to go. We’re in midtown, where the greatest need is.”
Church officials say that curtailing these services will have a devastating impact on residents of nearby senior and residential facilities and the homeless, who rely on Assumption’s social services.
The soup kitchen has been held at Assumption for nine years. Assumption, St. Mary’s, and St. Andrew’s rotate their volunteers to cook and serve the weekly Saturday meals at 4 p.m. It’s called the Cluster Soup Kitchen because of the “cluster” of three churches, each of which runs it for four months a year.
Dec. 26 will be the last time the soup kitchen and food pantry will be held at Assumption. It will relocate to All Saints Catholic Academy beginning Jan. 2.


“We’re in midtown, where the greatest need is.’” – Janice Machin

Disabilities, lack of car stymie needy

Some of those who attended the Assumption soup kitchen live in the Back Bay Gardens senior complex on Avenue A and 23rd Street, the Bayonne Family Community Center (former YMCA) on 22nd Street and Avenue E, or are homeless. Most don’t own cars and can’t get to All Saints on 13th Street between Avenue C and Broadway. Most can’t walk there, due to age or disabilities. An estimated 80 percent of soup kitchen attendees walk to Assumption.
For some, Assumption’s hot Saturday meal was the only one they received on weekends.
“A lot of the people who come to the soup kitchen come because either they have no one to feed them, or in the case of seniors who get Meals on Wheels, on Saturday or Sunday they don’t get a delivery,” said Rev. Joseph Barbone, Assumption pastor.
While Assumption’s entrance has a level ramp that led to the dining area, All Saints Academy is not barrier free, according to Rev. Barbone.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

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