It was an evening filled with celebration and camaraderie.
Longtime New Community employees rubbed elbows with former colleagues and community development leaders on an occasion that felt much like a reunion.
The event that drew such a dynamic crowd of more than 100 people was the long-awaited release of Monsignor William J. Linder’s new book, “Out of the Ashes Came Hope,” which officially debuted October 27, 2016, at an author talk and reception.
“Here it is, finally! It was about 20 years in the making,” CEO Richard Rohrman said of Monsignor’s book to the crowd gathered at St. Joseph Plaza. Every month, Rohrman said, New Community impacts the lives of more than 42,000 people who need housing, early childhood education, workforce development and health care.
“That’s really Monsignor’s legacy,” said Rorhman.
In a video recording shown at the event, Monsignor described the driving force behind establishing New Community.
“People needed to control their lives. I think it’s important to us—we’re not going to be content until we feel that we really have a say and a control over our lives,” Monsignor said. “You don’t have to worry about good things just happening in your own life. It’s good things happening in everybody’s lives and you’re part of it. That, I think, is the joy of living,” he added.
Guests arrived at a red carpet affair at the headquarters of New Community for an author talk led by Gilda Rogers, co-author of Monsignor’s memoir. Attendees socialized during a reception in the back room of St. Joseph Plaza, took photos on the red carpet and enjoyed jazz music, a personal favorite of Monsignor’s.New Community’s founder was unable to be present due to a personal emergency.
Before Rogers read passages from the book, Craig Drinkard, who penned the forward, shared personal insights about Monsignor. “We go from knowledge to appreciation and from appreciation to love,” said Drinkard, associate director for operations at the Victoria Foundation, a longtime community partner and financial supporter of New Community. “It makes you love him that much more,” he said of Monsignor.
Rogers described the two-year process of researching, interviewing and writing the memoir with Monsignor as “a pilgrimage.” Journeying over the historical terrain of New Community’s founding with Monsignor, who began his ministry in Newark in 1963, was eye-opening, she said.
“It was revealed to me what it means to be a servant of God,” Rogers said. She also read the names of the other founding board of directors of New Community: Willie Wright, Timothy Still, Elma Bateman, Arthur Bray, Monsignor Thomas Carey, Joseph Chaneyfield, Bob Curvin and Kenneth Gibson. Bateman was in attendance at the event.
“The founding members of New Community were social change agents,” Rogers said.
To purchase and pick up a paperback copy of “Out of the Ashes Came Hope” at New Community, call Helen Abraha at 973-497-4400, or order online at Amazon (hardback, paperback and ebook available).