POPE-BAVARIA Apr-19-2008 (570 words) With photos. xxxn
German sweets beckon outside church welcoming Bavarian-born pope
By Angelo Stagnaro
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) -- As people milled about outside St. Joseph's Church in New York awaiting the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for an evening prayer service April 18, they couldn't help but notice the windows of Glaser's Bake Shop overflowing with Teutonic confectionary decadence.
Amid the overflowing shelves of "apfelkuchen" and cheesecake, black 'n' white cookies and Bavarian cream pies stood Herb Glaser, 55, the most recent person in charge of a very old family business.
Glaser has been a parishioner of St. Joseph's Church since he was a small boy, when he sang in the choir and assisted on the altar.
St. Joseph's in the Yorkville section of Manhattan was chosen for the ecumenical prayer service with the German-born pope because of its German ties. The church was established in 1873 to serve the needs of German immigrants.
Located right around the corner from the church, Glaser's Bake Shop proudly carries on the last vestige of old Germany in New York.
"I think this is wonderful to have the pope here. I'm so proud and happy. Just to be a part of this is a special thrill," said Glaser in an interview with Catholic News Service.
Rita Callahan, 41, who works at the counter in the bakery and is a friend of the Glaser family, is also a St. Joseph's parishioner.
"This is fantastic. It's a great honor to have our pope here. It's a blessing to our parish, to the city and to the country," she said.
"We're really grateful for Julia Winter, who is in charge of the German apostolate at St. Joseph's Parish," said Callahan. "She single-handedly revived and sustained it. It's a great parish, thanks to her and to our pastor. The whole congregation is wonderful. It's very alive."
Asked how she felt about the papal visit, Callahan said Pope Benedict "hit all the important issues in his homilies and speeches. He wasn't afraid of talking about the sex abuse scandal. He talked about human rights. He spoke on concern for the poor. I'm happy he did that. It was important."
"He's just wonderful. So intelligent. So spiritual," Callahan added.
John Herbert Glaser, Herb's grandfather, first opened Glaser's Bake Shop in 1902. Originally, the bakery only baked bread, 24 hours a day. Since then, the bakery has greatly expanded its confectionary offerings.
"The family has always been a part of St. Joseph's Parish. I received all of my sacraments there," said Herb Glaser. "My whole family is still close to the church."
"We used to have a lot more Germans here in Yorkville than we are now, but still there's a presence," he added. "We even have a German Mass every Sunday."
Yorkville, on Manhattan's Upper East Side, runs from 79th to 96th Streets and from the East River to Third Avenue. Most of Yorkville's original German residents moved to Yorkville from Kleindeutschland on Manhattan's Lower East Side after the General Slocum disaster June 15, 1904.
More than 1,000 German-Americans were killed when the steamship, carrying them on an annual outing from a Lutheran church on the Lower East Side, caught fire and burned to the waterline in the East River.
Eighty-sixth Street, which is still referred to as "the German Boulevard," is the principal thoroughfare along which the Steuben Parade, one of America's largest and oldest German-American celebrations, travels.
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