Despite Sex Abuse Accusations Leveled at Pastor, Church Carries On

After Loss of Beloved Bishop, the Mission Continues at Our Lady of Refuge


By David Greene



BRONX– Bishop John Jenik began many traditions in his 40 years at Our Lady of Refuge Church on Briggs Avenue, since his unexpected and contested removal after an allegation of inappropriate conduct. Jenik’s flock now continue his mission, serving Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of community residents.



The church once again opened its doors on Thursday, November 22, as 100 volunteers from at least three organizations, Part Of The Solution, the Youth Tidjane of the United States and members of Resurrection Church in Rye, New York, who brought, cooked and served the donated turkey with all the trimmings.



Bedford Park resident Amanda Talavera was moments away from celebrating the holiday with her sisters Desire and Samantha, when she said, “We’ll me and my sisters wanted to come try out a little Thanksgiving food.”


Photos by David Greene


Her first time at the Thanksgiving dinner at the church, Talavera added, “I think its great. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, so I think this is a great thing and the hospitality is greatly appreciated. To be here and serve other people, when they could be home with their own families.”



Alfredo Calzarano, who was also enjoying his holiday meal, when he noted, “They seem to have a surplus of food, because they are giving people food to bring home. This is actually a pretty decent place to go, but its only twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas.”



“Its very tasty,” remarked John Ruprecht, as he sat down to his meal. He added, “I thank God and I’m really grateful to the people taking their Thanksgiving and coming over here to volunteer.”



Ruprecht explained he was making a Thanksgiving dinner with friends, but noted, “the turkey we’re cooking won’t be done for hours, its a really big turkey.”



On Jenik, sidelined by the Archdiocese of New York and who’s recovering from one hip surgery before undergoing a second, Ruprecht added, “I’m praying he’ll be all right and he recovers okay.”



Fifi Diaw, a volunteer from the Youth Tidjane of the United States in Harlem, was busy assembling bags of food for residents to take home when they leave, recalled, “We have 10 volunteers, mostly young kids.”



Diaw added, “Many of the people are so thankful to get a meal,” served with desert, coffee and tea.



Jack Marth, the director of programs at Part Of The Solution (POTS) on Webster Avenue, stated, “It looked like we had about 600 people come through and double that in meals, because everyone was given a to go plate.”

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