Neighborhood Survey Happening Now thru Fall...Trunk or Treat Oct. 31 at St.Mary's...New Leadership Board Forming...

Building Community Together

a program of Catholic Charities,Diocese of Metuchen
based at Sacred Heart Church,
56 Throop Avenue, New Brunswick NJ 08901

Phone: 732-545-0329
Fax: 732-545-5059
Jason Rowe, program director

Community organizers: Vince Rafici, Franchesca Rodriguez

As part of measuring outcomes in the revitalization process, Unity Square will be organizing surveys of our 37-block area in Sept. 2012. We kindly ask residents to participate in the survey, and we are also looking for volunteers to help us in conducting the survey.



Sacred Heart, 3 Catholic Charities programs
team up for Labor Day

More than 150 people attended an inaugural Labor Day Mass at Sacred Heart. Msgr. William Benwell, vicar general of the diocese, presided, with Msgr. Kerrigan preaching.

After the liturgy, participants ventured to the parish hall for coffee and bagels, provided by one of our parish small-business owners, Easton Express. Representatives from the New Brunswick-based and Catholic Campaign for Human Development-funded groups Unity Square, Intersect Fund and New Labor made short presentations.

The immigration staff from Catholic Charities was on hand to provide consultations to those ready to apply for "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and saw clients until 3pm.

In a sign of the proposed church restructuring in New Brunswick, three Catholic Charities programs (Immigration, Unity Square and CCHD) joined in this parish event.

CLICK HERE to read a story in New Brunswick Patch covering the event.

The next big event for Unity Square will be the annual, but newly conceptualized "Trunk or Treat" afternoon, set for the Friday before Halloween this year. For more information, contact event coordinator Amanda Gallear, leader of the Unity Square Partnership, at or (732)545-0329.


Restarting the residential leadership structure, running the first National Night Out at Feaster Park, coordinating the ongoing surge of neighborhood applicants for "Deferred Action" -- it's been a hectic -- and successful -- first three months for Unity Square's new leader Amanda Gallear. To read about the latest in Unity Square,
CLICK HERE for the program's latest newsletter in English, and HERE for Spanish.

RESIDENT LEADERSHIP: A leadership group -- critical to the program's resident-driven process -- has been formed, consisting of approximately twelve members, and had the first meeting Aug. 29, and a second one Sept 19. Organizers Vince Rafici and Franchesca Rodriguez led the group through the organizing framework, and also shared results of one-on-one meetings conducted with dozens of residents over the past several weeks. Expect several issue campaigns to form shortly....RESIDENT SURVEY: A resident survey, led by Amanda Gallear, has begun to further explore the needs and voices of residents. Survey teams go out each Friday and Saturday. Please be generous in your time if you asked to participate in the survey.

TRUNK or TREAT: This annual blockbuster event will be held on Halloween itself, a Wednesday this year. Thanks to St. Mary's Parish for offering their parking lot as a site. We are also exploring a second location. To help, contact Amanda Gallear at


Great weather, super planning, record turnout and diversity came together on Aug. 7 for Unity Square's annual National Night Out celebration.

For the first time, the event moved off the Sacred Heart campus to Feaster Park. Despite the move, a great turnout of parishioners enhanced the event. The youth group SHOUT sold cold drinks, the Latino Events and Food Committee gave away food, the parish maintenance staff set up tables and chairs, and parishioners mingled in all activity.

Kudos to Amanda Gallear, Unity Square's new leader, only six weeks on the job, but omnipresent during the night and handling the many details with aplomb.

"This was our best National Night Out yet," said one veteran attendee. "This is how community works for something like this."

PAST AND PRESENT: Founding Unity Square director Nancy Finn (left) with current leader and Sacred Heart parishioner Amanda Gallear at the Aug. 7 National Night Out in Feaster Park.

YOUTH WILL SERVE:The parish youth group SHOUT sold cold drinks to attendees of National Night Out Aug. 7.

Parish, Catholic Charities to roll out welcome mat for "Deferred Action" applicants 4x in next two weeks

Sacred Heart is the diocesan hub site for events relating to the new federal "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival" legislation that will benefit many parishioners and neighbors. Parish and Unity Square staff gathered this week to make final preparations for receiving aspirants.

The first event was Friday, Aug. 17, when Msgr. Kerrigan and Ana Bonilla from Sacred Heart led continuous workshops from 9a-5pm on the new law, while Catholic Charities staff offered consultations in the parish center. Pictured above, from left, parish youth Mariela Lopez, Evelyn Lugos, Jasmin Sanchez and Odalis Esquamilla greeted more than 100 aspirants on Aug. 17.

After the 9:45am Mass on Sunday, Aug. 19, the workshop portion only was repeated.

2011: "Trunk or Treat" Sweetens Unity Square Halloween

Several hundred children and families, perhaps even more than a thousand, turned out at Sacred Heart to commemorate Unity Square's annual "Trunk or Treat" extravaganza Monday evening, Oct 31. It might have been the largest gathering on the campus in years. Read this blog entry from a participant from Hoboken. There are plenty of great pictures.
More coverage from the Rutgers Daily Targum and HERE.

August 2010: Festive "Night Out" at Sacred Heart

Crowds filled the parking lot on a pleasant summer evening, Tuesday, Aug. 3,2010 for Sacred Heart/Unity Square's annual commemoration of National Night Out.

RICH CUNNINGHAM (d. Sept. 2009)

--STAR-LEDGER tribute: Sept. 7 edition

Rich Cunningham, pictured above, left, at the inaugural Harvest of Hope Dinner in 2004, (where he was the keynote speaker), died on Friday, Sept. 4 after a lengthy and dramatic battle with cancer. Rich, 32, died at the beginning of Labor Day weekend, a poignant punctuation to his life's work.
In his brilliant creation of founding the alternative worker organization New Labor, and in his struggle with cancer, Rich was an inspiration and a source of strength to many. He was a great friend of the poor, Sacred Heart Parish, and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, among the many groups of people he touched.
Under Rich's leadership, Sacred Heart became a more alive and engaged parish through the numerous New Labor activities at the church. He was a 2004 finalist of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for people 18-30 years old who are working to end poverty and injustice.
Rich is survived by his wife Heather and their twin daughters Lily Ava and Reese Sydney.
May Rich's soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace
In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to:, or
56 Throop Avenue, New Brunswick NJ 08901  Phone(732)545 1681  Fax(732)545 5059  Email