Deepening the idea of hospitality in New York: Franciscan house is like a mini-UN

Sr. Mary Petrosky of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary smiles outside the door of the Holy Name of Jesus Convent in Upper Manhattan. (GSR photo / Chris Herlinger)

Every day, hundreds of people walk up and down the Upper Manhattan block of 97th Street just off of Broadway and pass an inconspicuous brown door.

They probably never give it a thought or care.

But to knock on that door and be greeted by Sr. Mary Petrosky of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary is to enter a warm, welcoming and comfortable space, one that merges the spirit of a convent with a kind of mini-United Nations.

That is by design, said Petrosky, whose enthusiasm, humor and kindness are infectious and have made the Holy Name of Jesus Convent a welcome way station for visiting sisters and others on work assignments in New York, particularly those representing their congregations at the United Nations.

"I must say, there is joy here," said Petrosky, 85, who coordinates the house's activities, including housing, meals and nightly vespers at the house's small chapel. (The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus is around the block, and the convent is next to a parish-run community center.) Petrosky also leads private spiritual direction sessions.

The Franciscans bought the five-story convent in 1993 from the Archdiocese of New York for use by the Franciscans; currently, six Franciscan sisters live there. But with the smaller numbers of sisters within the congregation overall, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary opted six years ago to welcome others as guests.

These include laypeople engaged in peace and justice work; relatives of the sisters; and, the largest group, women religious of other congregations visiting or working in New York.

Some, like Sr. Colleen Jackson of Melbourne, Australia, have temporary assignments in the city. Jackson is a recent guest representing her congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Australia, and interning at UNANIMA International, a United Nations-based coalition of Catholic congregations focused on concerns of women and children.

The house "has been a place to share life journeys, stories and experiences of the U.N., the important grassroots work of NGOs brought alive to the U.N., and not least of all, humor and passion," Jackson said.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report

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