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Third BCEF Call of 2019: Holy Spirit, Verona

Holy Spirit, Verona parking lot repairs

The Bishop’s Church Emergency Fund (BCEF) provides financial support for church buildings in the diocese needing repairs and renovation, usually with a special focus on emergency and unforeseen needs. Through the BCEF, you can support the critical needs identified by the Bishop.

The third BCEF call of 2019 is for driveway repaving at Holy Spirit, Verona. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to BCEF with Call #3 in the memo line to: BCEF, c/o Diocese of Newark, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.

The Church of Holy Spirit is only one block from the main Town Square area of Verona, an Essex County township of about 13,000 residents. The original 1932 brick church structure matches the style of the middle school across the street as well as other nearby municipal buildings. The original chapel remains and was incorporated into a new building dedicated in 1963.

Holy Spirit’s rector, the Rev. Gerard Racioppi, or Father Jerry as he is called, is a graduate of Drew Theological Seminary, holds a masters degree in counseling, and was himself born in Verona. Consciously striving to be a welcoming community is a hallmark of the parish, says Father Jerry, who makes a practice of standing on the front steps to greet worshippers as they enter the church on a Sunday morning. “Of course it’s great to see long time members,” he says, “but it’s also an invaluable way of connecting with first time visitors.”

The parish has an 8 and a 10 o’clock Eucharist each Sunday with an average attendance of 35 adults and about 15 children. The early service is meditative and often features Taizé chants. Sung hymns accompanied by organ are part of the later Rite II service and every third Sunday features a Eucharist designed especially for children. Bible study programs are an important part of Lent and Advent. For many church members, friendships and ongoing fellowship, both within and outside of church, is a greatly cherished aspect of parish life .

In addition to being a welcoming, inclusive community with an eagerness to share its faith, Holy Spirit’s mission statement has a third imperative, serving others. In April 2016, Holy Spirit opened its own food pantry, which now serves over 80 people each month. Twenty-two volunteers staff the operation, which Father Jerry considers the cornerstone of Holy Spirit’s outreach ministry. The parish also partners with food ministries at St. Peter’s Haven in Clifton and Christine’s Kitchen in West Orange and provides a home to the four 12-step programs that meet there each week.

Given all this activity (in addition to hosting a preschool with 45 children,) it’s not surprising that the church has become very dependent on its 32-space parking lot. Recently however a drain pipe under the lot had been found to be in urgent need of replacement. Run off water from the roofs of the buildings, normally carried away by the 8-inch drain pipe, severely flooded the parking lot. The repair was costly since nearly 50 feet of pipe had to be replaced. The work is being partially funded by a small surplus in the parish budget, by a loan from the diocese, and, with your help, by this, our third BCEF call for 2019. Please make a contribution today and thanks in advance for your generosity in helping this vital congregation continue to serve Verona and the surrounding communities.

God's peace,

+Carlye J. Hughes

The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop of Newark