Tim and Judianne Middlebrook have found a second home and family at Holy Trinity parish in the Town of Poughkeepsie, which is celebrating its centennial this year.
Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass and met parishioners at a reception afterward as part of the centennial celebration June 12.
“I’m proud to be a part of that parish. It’s a big part of my life,” Mrs. Middlebrook, 64, who was baptized and married at Holy Trinity, told CNY.
“It’s a big family. We have a lot of parishioners. We’re all connected through our church and look at each other as family. It’s been our second home.”
Holy Trinity has more than 2,000 parish families and averaged about 1,100 at its weekend Masses before the pandemic. Masses are offered on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon. A Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated at 1:30 p.m. Sunday as well as 7 p.m. on Fridays.
A 9 a.m. Mass is offered on Monday through Saturday. A Filipino Mass is celebrated on the third Sunday of each month at 4 p.m., and a Dutchess County Young Adult Mass is celebrated at Holy Trinity on the last Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Father Anthony Mizzi-Gili, who has been pastor since 2017, is assisted by Father Ajith Wellington, parochial vicar; Father Gamini E. Fernando, in residence; and Deacon Shaun R. Boyce, who also serves as director of religious education.
“People are receptive to the call and rise to the occasion to help, for which I’m eternally grateful,” Father Mizzi-Gili said.
“We’ve come together as a family. As a family we have good times and bad times. We have more happy times even during the pandemic. There is joy in doing good for the parish and for others.”
Holy Trinity dates back to June 6, 1921, when Father Peter Conaty received the commission from Cardinal Patrick Hayes, and the parish’s first Mass took place in the Arlington Fire Department’s Fireman’s Hall building July 3 of that year. On March 10, 1923, the first Mass was celebrated in the new and current church building.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the parish served as the seat of the Dutchess County Vicariate. In 1996, Cardinal John O’Connor celebrated Mass to mark the parish’s 75th anniversary.
The parish’s 85th anniversary was celebrated in conjunction with the silver jubilee of parish pastor, Father Joseph LaMorte, who served at Holy Trinity for 21 years. Msgr. LaMorte is now the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese.
Holy Trinity School opened in 1952 with 423 students in kindergarten through sixth grade and a dedication from Cardinal Francis Spellman. A new wing was dedicated in 1958 and enrollment increased to 870 children by 1960. There were 258 students enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade at Holy Trinity, now a regional school under principal Kathleen Spina.
The parish has an active CYO program and Knights of Columbus Council. The parish is best known for its annual spring festival of rides, games, food and entertainment, and its food pantry, which is open each Wednesday for three hours.
“The food pantry has continued to flourish to what it is today largely due to the volunteer group made up of parishioners,” Father Mizzi-Gili said.
“When the pandemic hit, a lot of people were left without food. Parishioners have stepped up to help out with the food pantry. It’s been a blessing for them and people have been gracious with donating food.”
Mrs. Middlebrook added, “We are there to help and do what God would want us to do. It’s very rewarding work and you get to know the people.”
The spring festival dates back to the 1950s, and a fall festival was added in 2019. A fall festival is being planned later this year after the Covid-19 pandemic canceled the festival in 2020 and the spring festival in 2021.
“We have a lot of fun every year. It’s a lot of work, but people look forward to it every year,” said Mike Bozyczko, a lifelong parishioner who has been involved with the festival since 1980 and has served as chair of the festival since 2004.
“We’ve been really blessed to have a beautiful church, beautiful school and we always had great priests. It’s a very active parish with very generous parishioners.”
Father Mizzi-Gili is ready to work with parishioners to build on what the parish has done in the first 100 years.
“I’m enjoying it very much. It’s been a blessing,” he said of his time at the parish. “The archdiocese sent me here to help the people of the parish. They’re extremely friendly, hospitable, and the outpouring spirit of assistance is a blessing.
“We need to build upon that, strengthen what we have and get more younger faces from the community involved.”