St. Helen’s Church fire cleanup will benefit from a benefit concert

World-renowned cellist Christine Walevska is the featured performer at the benefit concert. (Photo: Paula Katinas)

PARKCHESTER — Local musicians are combining their talents for a benefit concert to help a Bronx church pay to repair damage from a fire after Christmas in December.

The fundraiser for the St. Helena fire, featuring renowned cellist Christine Walevska, the Bronx Concert Singers and the Children’s Orchestra Society, will take place at the church, 1315 Olmstead Ave. in Parkchester on Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m.

The electrical fire of December 26 considerably damaged the sacristy of the church. Smoke rose throughout the church, but also in the Sainte-Hélène school and in a dormitory housing seminarians from the Saint-Joseph seminary and college.

The concert will have an international flavor in keeping with the multinational feel of the local neighborhood of Parkchester, according to Gail Tweedy, a public relations representative who is helping to organize the show. The Bronx Concert Singers, for example, will sing in French and Swahili, as well as English and Spanish.

The area is also home to a large number of Dominican, Mexican and Ecuadorian residents, said Father David Powers Sch.P., pastor of St. Helena Church.

Father Powers hopes the concert will raise between $5,000 and $10,000 that the church can spend on ongoing repairs and cleanup.

“We were lucky that the insurance covered most of our costs. They covered about $100,000. But we still have things to do,” he explained.

No one was injured in the blaze, but the church was forced to temporarily move its masses to another site on church grounds, a 121-year-old structure known as the “Green Building”. , During three months.

“We have just reopened the church. We had our first masses on Ash Wednesday,” said Father Powers, who has served as a pastor since 2015.

Father David Powers inspects the damage caused by the fire in December. (Pictures: Bill Miller)

It was not the first time that the Green Building, nicknamed because of its color, replaced the church. Built in 1901, it was used for masses while Saint Helena Church was built in the early 1940s.

“The Green Building has served us well. But it was great to be back in our church,” Father Powers added.

The whole community comes together for the concert, as does the music world. When Tweedy launched a request for a piano, the Beethoven Piano Company, located near Carnegie Hall, stepped up and donated a grand piano to the church.

“I was amazed!” she says. “I was expecting a small upright piano. When I told them they could deliver it to the church through a side door, they said they needed double doors. That’s when I learned that they had donated a small grand piano.

St. Helen’s Church has hosted many concerts over the years and has become an artistic haven. The Bronx Concert Singers are in residence there. “Music occupies a very important place in our parish. That’s why the benefit concert means so much to us,” said Father Powers.

For more information on the concert, visit:


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