Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Archbishop Of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan Celebrates Dedication And Blessing Of New Roosevelt Island St Cabrini Church Last Sunday - New Roosevelt Island Church A Booster Shot For Entire Archdiocese Says Cardinal Dolan

On Sunday, January 7, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop Of New York, visited Roosevelt Island

to attend the Dedication and Blessing Mass of the new St Francis X. Cabrini church.

As Cardinal Dolan got out of his car on this very cold day, he was greeted warmly by Roosevelt Island residents

and welcomed by Father Richard Baker, Pastor of St Cabrini Church and Parish Manager Lisa Calabrese

before climbing the stairs

to the new St Cabrini Church home on the second floor at 504 Main Street.

The Dedication and Blessing Mass began with St Cabrini Church parishioner Christina Delfico asking everyone to stand and sing the opening hymn as Cardinal Dolan, Father Baker, parish priests and altar boys entered the chapel.

St Cabrini Trustee Peg Bell welcomed Cardinal Dolan and spoke to him about the history, challenges and current activities of the parish.
Welcome, Your Eminence. My name is Peg Bell, and I am a trustee of the parish. On behalf of our Pastor Fr. Richard Baker, all clergy, staff, and parishioners of St. John and St. Frances, we are honored by your presence today. Today is a day we’ve all be looking forward to. The Catholic community here on Roosevelt Island and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini has yearned for this space for a long time. Through the ‘Making All Things New’ Archdiocesan initiative, the merger with St. John Nepomucene and St. John the Martyr on the East Side is a complex process. Because of this merger, we have been called to re-envision our identity, re-examine our faith and practice, and give God glory for the grace and gifts he has bestowed upon us.

Over the past two and a half years, we have reinvested ourselves and set in motion an environment that strengthens our community. Our parochial vicar, Fr. Antonio Ferrer has restarted ministry to the Coler-Goldwater Hospital and Nursing facility, particularly through ministry to the sick and weekly Mass at their facility. Additionally, the St. Anne’s Circle for Christian Service was established in support of Ministry to the Sick, our parish and the clergy. The religious education program on Roosevelt Island, headed by Lisa Calabrese, has received greater interest and participation. The sacristan, lector and altar server ministries – as you will see, is also marked with enthusiasm and vitality. The parish music ministry, headed by Mark Pacoe and led by Austin Philemon here, has reshaped the cantor and choral ministry. These are some of the many wonderful things that characterize the life of this parish.

As many know, we haven’t been without our challenges over the years. The nature of gathering in a small storefront chapel for most liturgies, then going to Good Shepherd Church down the street for larger gatherings and events, had inherent challenges. For some, it may have seemed like Catholicism ‘on the road’ or ‘out of a suitcase.’ Nonetheless, our new space will allow us to further ‘unpack’ our sense of ‘Catholic Home’ and be empowered by this new facility. It will help us so much in our corporate worship, education, and fellowship. As Catholics, and with your prayers and help, Your Eminence, we know and strive for the grace of reconciliation and forgiveness. We’ve been through a lot, …and now we’re home.

Cardinal Dolan said he was impressed by the "vitality and essential nature" of the Roosevelt Island St Cabrini parish

and blessed the new Church.

Cardinal Dolan was clearly very happy to be here on Roosevelt Island to celebrate the opening of a new Church, telling the St Cabrini parishioners:
... I got to let you know how much this means to me. You know me well enough by now. I've been with you 9 years so I'm not pessimistic. I don't get discouraged easily.

But I have to let you know and be honest with you that in recent years it seems like all I've done is close churches. In all this great complicated merging, making all things new that we've all been through, it's not been without pain and difficulty and some disappointment and sadness as was mentioned earlier.

So for me to be able to come on a bright Sunday afternoon at the beginning of this New Year and dedicate a new Church, this really means the world to me. It's a special joy and privilege for me to be here with you today to accomplish that....

Here's Cardinal Dolan's full Roosevelt Island St. Cabrini sermon.

Father Baker added:

Cardinal Dolan had some closing words:
Thanks again. This will give hope to the whole Archdiocese. It's been a long time since we've been able to say - guess what everybody, we've opened a new Church ....

... You're going to give a booster shot of hope to the entire Archdiocese when word of this gets around....

Following the Sunday Mass, Cardinal Dolan attended a reception with Roosevelt Islanders

meeting St Cabrini parishioners and

staying for

at least another hour 

 before getting back in his car leaving Roosevelt Island.

I recommended to Cardinal Dolan taking the Tram next time he comes to Roosevelt Island. He said he might just do that.

Some more pictures of last Sunday's Roosevelt Island St Cabrini Church dedication from the East River Catholics Facebook page.

The Roosevelt Island St Cabrini Church is part of the East River Catholics, a parish that also includes St. John Nepomucene and St. John the Martyr.

Katarina Novakova, a St John Nepomucene Trustee also spoke to Cardinal Dolan

during the St Cabrini dedication:
My name is Katarina Novakova, parish trustee and part of the Slovak-speaking community at St. John on the East Side. As we have all experienced, discovering our common strengths and goals is not so easy. We are unique because the East River runs through our parish boundaries of the East Side from Lexington Ave, 59th to 74th streets all the way east to Roosevelt Island. We are made up of three parish entities – a Slovak-speaking, an English-speaking, and a Roosevelt Island community. Typically, geography defines a parish boundary. However, we have a river running through us. This river does not divide us! --- It unites us!

We have seen many positive developments in the Slovak ministry at St. John Nepomucene. With the most vibrant Slovak nationals and all those of Slavic descent, we proudly continue our faith and cultural traditions in the mission of this new parish. Together, with our Slovak brothers and sisters here and abroad, Lux New York has extended our gospel mission in sharing the Word and more. We now live-stream the Slovak and English Masses at St. John every Sunday on our social media. These archived videos and other audio/visual media are great tools in our mission for today and tomorrow.

As I summarize all that happens in the parish on a regular basis, it becomes a lot to follow! We have roughly 17 weekly Masses, many devotions, social gatherings, RCIA meetings, and Religious Education and Music Programs for both Slovak and English communities between St. John and St. Frances. East River Concerts, for example, hosts fine choral and instrumental performers from the NYC metro area and all over the world. In just two months, the world renowned Bratislava Boys Choir will be in residence on Roosevelt Island, rehearsing here and sharing their gifts in liturgy and in concert. Lastly, it takes a very special pastor to guide such a rich and varied parish as ours. Fr. Richard Baker has the most difficult job of all. In addition to directing the spiritual and sacramental life and needs of the parish, he has – whether each of us realize it or not – given more than we can ever appreciate in these first years of St. John and St. Frances together.

Please continue to pray for our parish as we will for you. We welcome you here today, and always, with open minds, hearts and out-stretched arms.

On behalf of all of us, we thank you, Your Eminence.
Sunday, January 7 was a historic day for the Catholic Church on Roosevelt Island.


More info on the Roosevelt Island St Cabrini Church available at the East River Catholics web page and Facebook page.