Church looking to raise laughs and funds

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Rev. John Kuzhikottayil surveys the work that has taken place in the church hall of St. Francis Church in Naugatuck. The basement, which was flooded during heavy rains in August, had to be completely gutted before work to rebuild it could begin. The church will host a comedy night on April 20 to help recoup money it has lost not being able to hold events in hall. –LUKE MARSHALL
Rev. John Kuzhikottayil surveys the work that has taken place in the church hall of St. Francis Church in Naugatuck. The basement, which was flooded during heavy rains in August, had to be completely gutted before work to rebuild it could begin. The church will host a comedy night on April 20 to help recoup money it has lost not being able to hold events in hall. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — St. Francis of Assisi Church is hosting a comedy night to help it recover from an act of God.

A silent auction, dinner and night of comedy is being planned for April 20 to help raise money for the church to offset loses from not being able to use the basement for any kind of events.

The basement of St. Francis was severely damaged in the heavy rains on Aug. 1, 2012. During that storm water backed up into the basement, destroying everything in the room. The basement served as the church hall and the cafeteria for the St. Francis-St. Hedwig School.

“They’re reconstructing the church hall. It’s still not useable. They had to gut everything out,” parishioner Bernice Rizk said.

Rev. John Kuzhikottayil said since the hall was damaged there has been an outpouring of support for the church.

“People have come together, rallied around church, and helped in various ways,” Kuzhikottayil said.

The hall has to be completely gutted. Kuzhikottayil said the reconstruction process began approximately three weeks ago as the church has been raising funds for the work. He estimated that it will cost roughly $500,000 to restore the hall.

Along with all the walls the church lost its entire kitchen, which served the St. Francis-St. Hedwig School next door, and the furnace.

While people have come together to support the reconstruction of the hall, the church has been losing money due to the fact that it has not been able to hold events, such as Bingo.

“Bingo is a successful fundraiser,” Rizk said. “They are losing money not being able to have it.”

Therefore, Rizk began working on a way to help the church recoup the losses from being unable to have any normal events for the past seven months.

Over 5 feet of water flooded the basement of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Naugatuck in August leaving the basement muddy and destroyed. –FILE PHOTO
Over 5 feet of water flooded the basement of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Naugatuck in August leaving the basement muddy and destroyed. –FILE PHOTO

Rizk, along with other parishioners, is organizing the comedy night that will also feature

a silent auction and dinner. The event will be held at the Grand Oak Villa in Oakville beginning at 6 p.m. April 20. Tickets are $50 per person or $450 for a table of 10.

Anyone interested in going should contact the church at (203) 729-4543 to purchase tickets.

“It’s something that the area has done in past, people have gone to other comedy nights. We just thought it was a fun thing to do,” Rizk said. “Want people to leave feeling good.”

Rizk, who has been a parishioner at St. Francis since she moved to Naugatuck 26 years ago, said she has done volunteer work for the church and the school in the past, so stepping up to put together the comedy evening was not something new for her.

She also felt that, following the destruction of the church’s basement, she needed to do something.

“St. Francis is like a home to us all and you feel so helpless when something like that happens,” Rizk said. “It brings the parishioners together.”