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Thriving 'signs' at St. Philip Neri

Bunche Park church installs new digital signage, celebrates first Communions

St. Philip Neri parishioners gather near their new digital sign for a blessing ceremony on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

St. Philip Neri parishioners gather near their new digital sign for a blessing ceremony on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Spiritan Father Fidelis Nwankwo, administrator of St. Philip Neri Parish, gives first Holy Communion to Gabriella Williams, 9, during Mass on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Spiritan Father Fidelis Nwankwo, administrator of St. Philip Neri Parish, gives first Holy Communion to Gabriella Williams, 9, during Mass on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Father Fidelis Nwankwo, administrator of St. Philip Neri Parish, gives first Communion to Emari Miller, 11, during Mass on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Father Fidelis Nwankwo, administrator of St. Philip Neri Parish, gives first Communion to Emari Miller, 11, during Mass on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Father Fidelis Nwankwo, St. Philip Neri Church administrator, cuts the ribbon on the church's new digital sign on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Father Fidelis Nwankwo, St. Philip Neri Church administrator, cuts the ribbon on the church's new digital sign on Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

MIAMI GARDENS | On Holy Trinity Sunday, three special events highlighted a Mass at St. Philip Neri Church: the feast day of its patron saint, two first Communions, and the dedication of a new digital sign outside the church.

“Today, the church admits two children to the sacrament of holy Communion,” said Spiritan Father Fidelis Nwankwo, parish administrator. “It’s a privilege. You must adhere to the rules of the Church. Cherish the sacrament of the Eucharist. Come to Mass on Sunday. Realize that the Eucharist is not a cake or a cookie. It is completely different from any other food.”

Father Nwankwo urged the two girls who were receiving their first Communion, Gabriella Williams, 9, and Emari Miller, 11, to pray for their religious education teachers, their parents, their church community and for himself.

“Today is not the end of your faith journey,” he said. “It is the beginning.”

In addition, parishioners celebrated the feast day of their church’s namesake, St. Philip Neri, a 16th-century Christian missionary who lived in Rome and founded the Congregation of the Oratory. He is the patron saint of Rome and of humor and joy. He encouraged groups of people to gather for discussions, studies, prayer and the enjoyment of music. His customary question was, “Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?”

“St. Philip Neri made people smile a lot,” said Father Nwankwo. “You can do more with a joyful heart. That’s what he was about. He taught us to do more to help people.”

Finally, Father Nwankwo dedicated a new digital sign outside the church, replacing a 67-year-old sign that posted Mass times and other announcements. The new state-of-the-art sign is still a work in progress. It will be connected to the internet and the church plans to plant a decorative two-foot hedge around it.

“This has been a project three years in the making,” the priest said.

Thanks to benefactors and fundraising events, the $30,000 sign became a reality, said Katrenia Reeves Jackman, parishioner, office manager and also the director of the archdiocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry.

St. Philip Neri, a small church in an area known as Bunche Park, opened in 1953 and was closed in 2009, but reopened in 2011.

“The archdiocese closed our church in 2009 because of a restructuring plan, but we fought to reopen it,” said Reeves Jackman. “Our prayers and efforts succeeded,” she added. “We’re still here. We are not only surviving, we are thriving.” 

Comments from readers

Sheila Taylor - 06/02/2021 10:35 PM
I am very grateful too have witnessed the reveal of our newly installed Church sign. God is good! Also, congratulations to Gabriella and Emari on receiving their first Communion. May Our Heavenly Father continue to bless you both.

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