Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Charities’

HHS Mandate Decision

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Did you hear about the decision last week by U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan in the lawsuit brought by the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, (the agency coordinating our Catholic healthcare in the archdiocese) and three plaintiffs from the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, against the administration for the unconstitutional HHS mandate?

You probably did not, as there seems to have been virtually no mention of the decision – in favor of the archdiocese, by the way – in any local newspaper or on television.  As far as I can tell, and I’ve looked rather carefully, there hasn’t even been a story in the New York Times, which couldn’t wait to publish an editorial this past October, admonishing the bishops, when a federal judge in Missouri found for the administration and dismissed a similar case brought by a private, for-profit, mining company.   (The Times also didn’t have much to say last week, when the appeals court temporarily blocked the bad Missouri decision the Times had gushed over.)

(UPDATE: The Staten Island Advance DID publish a story last week.  My apologies to Maura Grunlund for not remembering!)

Judge Cogan’s decision last week turned back a motion by the administration to have our lawsuit dismissed.  You’ll remember, perhaps, that back in May, the Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, and Catholic Health Systems of Long Island filed a lawsuit in federal court in Brooklyn, one of more than two dozen similar lawsuits filed around the country that day.  These lawsuits argue that the mandate from Health and Human Services would unconstitutionally presume to define the nature of the Church’s ministry, and force religious employers to violate their conscience or face onerous fines for not providing services in our health insurance that are contrary to our consciences and faith.

The judge’s decision doesn’t settle the case, but allows the case to proceed so that it might be heard in court.  (Two of our original co-plaintiffs, the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, have been dismissed from the suit, as the judge found that their insurance plans would not presently be affected by the HHS mandate.  The Archdiocese of New York, ArchCare, and CHSLI remain as plaintiffs.)   That’s significant, because the administration has been successful in getting some of the other cases dismissed, but in his decision Judge Cogan found that there was very real possibility that we plaintiffs would “face future injuries stemming from their forced choice between incurring fines or acting in violation of their religious beliefs.”

And what of the administration’s contention that the suit should be dismissed because they were going to change the HHS mandate to address the concerns of religious employers? As Judge Cogan wrote, “…the First Amendment does not require citizens to accept assurances from the government that, if the government later determines it has made a misstep, it will take ameliorative action. There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”

Bravo, Judge Cogan!

Of course, there is still a long way to go before these cases are final, and it would be our hope that the administration will be true to their word and amend the HHS mandate so that it does provide a real religious exemption and freedom of conscience protection.

Until then, we will continue to seek justice in the courts.  Thanks to last week’s decision in Federal Court in Brooklyn, it looks like we will have that chance.  We’ll keep you posted.

Hurricane Sandy Update

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I owe you an update on the response of the archdiocese to the turmoil of the hurricane.

The bad news is that the extent of the destruction from the storm seems wider and deeper each day.

We still have people without homes, whose lives are still in distress.

We still have people grieving the loss of family members and friends.  Just yesterday, for instance, Our Lady, Help of Christians Parish on Staten Island gathered around Pat Dresch, a beloved parishioner, a longtime leader in religious education, for the funeral Mass and burial of her husband and daughter, victims to the sea.

We still have massive clean-up efforts, especially in Staten Island, in the south part of Manhattan, and in our upper-counties, in neighborhoods, parishes, and schools.

We still have families whose lives are in upheaval because of work missed or jobs lost, possessions gone and future unsure.

We still are united with those along the Jersey shore, in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, who can’t even get back home yet.

The good news is that God’s people – you – rose to the occasion.

On 9/11, I was at home, in St. Louis, in a parish, and from afar, along with the rest of the world, I admired the resilience, compassion, and cooperation of the New York community.

Now I’m one of you – and, while tearful at the loss, am very proud of the rescue and renewal so evident.

While we do not yet have a tally, it seems as if the parishes of the archdiocese, along with funds designated from the Cardinal’s Appeal, have donated close to $2 million to assist our neighbors in distress, whatever their faith.

Catholic Charities of the archdiocese has been on the front lines, providing not only relief, but coordination of aid, helping as well to renew the spirit by providing counselors for those hit hard by loss.

Our parishes, particularly on Staten Island, became sanctuaries of welcome and assistance.

Our schools and programs rose-up and were back-in-service in remarkable time.

Most of all, the message of Jesus, “Be not afraid,” was proclaimed, as not even the winds and the waves can destroy our hope in Him.

Yes, God can bring good out of evil.

In all of this, the Church has been a leader, a partner, a servant, a refuge.

Tons of work yet to be done, and we intend to be unflagging, because this is not only about homes and possessions, but about people, who are neighbors, fellow parishioners, family members, and friends, who are God’s children, made in His image and likeness.  And, as long as we do it for them, we do it for Him.

The Church: Our Shelter in the Storm

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

An ecumenical council, or a papal encyclical, could not have given a better definition of the Church than the one given last week by a tearful woman on Breezy Point.

She was being interviewed by a TV reporter, standing over the rubble of her leveled home, one of more than 100 homes in this small Queens community that were destroyed by fire in the middle of Superstorm Sandy last week.  All around her, nothing of her former cherished neighborhood was standing.

In response to the reporter’s question, between sobs, she recounted her experience of that awful night.  As the winds, waves, and drapes of fire came upon her, she obviously fled her little home, looking for safety.  But, she could hardly see!  The gale, the lashing rain, the smoke, the flames . . . !  And there were no familiar landmarks, because all of them were blown away.  She stumbled desperately, calling for help, her voice muted by the roar of Sandy.  Her fear was she’d walk right into the ocean, so disoriented was she, so groping for some security.

Let her finish the “narrow escape”:

“Finally, I looked up, and I was in front of the parish church.  Now I knew where I was!  Now I felt safe!  Now I was home!  The doors were open, the candles were lit, my neighbors were there, Monsignor Curran was there . . . thank God!  I would be okay . . . “

That’s the Church . . . come on in . . . we all need safety in a storm . . . we all need a “home” when our own is gone . . .

HHS mandate’s coercive nature is fact

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The following article originally appeared a couple of weeks ago while I was in Rome. Though it’s a little old I thought you might like to see what my brother bishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, has written.

During the Oct. 11 debate, Vice President Joseph Biden looked into the camera and emphatically said: “With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution — Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital — none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

…Why would Vice President Biden look the American people in the eye and say something that is clearly not true? It is difficult to believe that the vice president does not understand the HHS mandates and what they require from religious institutions. If this were so, it certainly reflects poorly on his competency.

Of course, the only other explanation is that he purposely misled the American people. Congressman Ryan asked the vice president a very pertinent question. If the rights of institutions are not being threatened, then why are Catholic dioceses, hospitals and colleges suing the federal government in 14 different jurisdictions on this very matter? Unfortunately, the vice president did not answer the question and the moderator of the debate failed to press him on this matter.

Read the rest here.

God’s Work of Art

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

A year-or-so-ago, on Pentecost Sunday, appropriately, I had one of those rare-but-dramatic moments of divine illumination.

I had just finished celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation for about two-dozen of our special needs children.

None other than the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, had attended that 10:15 Mass at St. Patrick’s that morning, and was very moved by the ceremony.  She graciously asked to meet each of the children and their beaming families.

As I began the introductions, I bought her to our first child.  “Madam President” I began, “this is a wonderful Down Syndrome young man.”

The proud parents, with all the courtesy and respect possible, wisely and properly corrected me.  “Oh, no, Archbishop Dolan and Madam President!  This is Mark, who happens to have Down Syndrome.”

That was a moment of inspiration for me!  I am eternally grateful to those parents.

I trust you understand the essential distinction those loving parents made:  Mark’s identity is a child of God, made in God’s own image and likeness, redeemed by the Precious Blood of God’s only Son, Jesus.  Mark, God’s work of art, happens to have a condition called Down Syndrome.  But, he is hardly identified by the condition that he has.

Get it?  I tell you who expressed it well:  Blessed John Paul II, who said, “Being is much more significant and essential than having or doing.  And the greatest temptation we face is to prefer having and doing more than being.”

Once, as a parish priest, I had the heart-wrenching duty of sitting with a family sobbing over their husband and dad’s suicide.  This young father had sunk into a deep depression six-months previously when he had lost his job.

He had left a note, somberly writing his wife and kids, “I’m of no use to you anymore because I can’t work.”

Never will I forget his ten-year old son tearfully whispering, “But he was still my dad.”

That boy got the distinction: his dad might not be able to do what most dads do — work, so the family could have what they need.  But, he was still his dad.

Being is more important than having or doing.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught — pardon the Latin! — agere sequitur esse – “actions flow from being!”  What we do springs from who we are.

A recovering addict once shared with me that, before the Blessed Sacrament in Our Lady’s Chapel at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, after a three week binge that had left him literally in the gutter, he prayed “I am nothing but a helpless, desperate, worthless drunk.”  He kept repeating it, he told me, working himself into a more dungeon-like gloom.  Until he came to his senses, clearly through God’s grace and mercy, and exclaimed, “No, I’m not!  I am child of God, unconditionally loved by Him, made in His very image, destined for an eternity with Him — who happens to be addicted to alcohol!”

His identity was much more than his addiction.  The reaffirmation of his identity led to his recovery.

We are not defined by our addictions, wealth, nationality, color, sexual attraction, urges, popularity, grades, health, age, property, background, résumé, political party, or stock portfolio.

We have an inherent identity, a dignity, from God.

Everything we do, or don’t do — morality – flows from the belief about who we are — provided by our faith.

Today we often hear, “I sure appreciate all the things the Church does — its charities, schools, healthcare, even its worship, feast days, sacraments, and traditions.  But I could care less about what the Church teaches, and can’t understand why our religion is so ‘hung up’ on all that doctrinal stuff.”

I’m afraid those who claim that you got it backwards: all the good things the Church does flows from who we are, the faith we have which provides us our very identity.  We do good stuff precisely because of our faith.

Who we are is infinitely more important than what we have or do.

Reflections on a Radiant Apostolate

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Couple of weeks ago I was at a gala for Incarnation Children’s Center, an acclaimed residence,  under Catholic Charities, in Washington Heights, which offers tender care, healing, and holistic treatment for children in need.  It started almost a quarter-century ago as a short-term sanctuary for new born babies dying with AIDS, and developed into a longer term home for older children.  A splendid facility!

I could — and perhaps will, in the future, — write a whole entry on this radiant apostolate, including a few words on how respectful partnerships between the government and Catholic Charities serve the most vulnerable and abandoned in our midst, but right now I have another point to make.

The story is that a renowned pediatrician, Dr. Margaret Heagarty, and a celebrated woman religious, Sister Una McCormack, O.P., a Sparkhill Dominican, saw the critical need for such a care facility back then but could not find a place.   Enter one of our priests, Monsignor Thomas Leonard, then the pastor of Incarnation Parish.  When these two loving women told Tom of their need, he let them know that the convent of the parish was empty, and eagerly offered it for the babies and moms.  With the help of the illustrious philanthropist, Jack Rudin . . . well, the rest is history.

What Monsignor Leonard did was harness an unused building in service of the Gospel.  I suppose he could have sold it, had it torn down, or rented it as a hair salon.  No . . . he kept it allied to the mission of the Church.  And there’s the lesson.

We in the archdiocese and in our parishes may be tight on cash — who isn’t? — but we do have buildings.  What to do with them is today a burning question.

Some argue that we’re now suffering the results of “over-building” from the past.  In the boom years of explosive growth after the war, and a bumper crop of vocations, our ancestors understandably built galore.  Now, so goes the narrative, we’re “stuck” with huge rectories, schools, convents, and halls, many of them half-empty or closed, and costing us a bundle to heat, protect, maintain, and insure.

So, what do we do with them?  I know one pastor in another diocese who rents his old school out for storage; another in a distant state who sold the convent to a veterinarian.  I guess sometimes there’s such a critical need for funds that such uses are understandable.

But, isn’t it for the better when we can make the decision Tom Leonard did?  The building remains part of the mission of Jesus and His Church!  The people who originally donated to build that convent, and the sisters who once lived there, would be ecstatic to behold its use today.

A bishop was telling me of a pastor who asked permission to have his empty, closed school rented to a non-religious day-care center.  Seems as if the good people who ran the successful nursery a few blocks away needed a much bigger facility, as the need was so great.  Seemed a logical use for the old school, don’t you think?

But the bishop asked the parish priest, “Why don’t you open a day care center?  If the need is there — and apparently it is — shouldn’t the Church respond?  When there was a need for a Catholic school in the parish 100 years ago, your people built the school for their kids.  Now the children need a day care center.  Wouldn’t it be a magnificent apostolate to welcome those little ones as Jesus did?”

Not a bad question.

Actually, I wonder if this is part of the new evangelization?  We are not into maintenance but mission; we are not landlords but servants of the Lord; our buildings are not investments to be rented out but means to serve, teach, and sanctify.  Why not creatively use our properties to continue the mission of the Church?

That’s why, for instance, in Pathways to Excellence, our new school plan, parishes where schools have closed or merged, and where the old school structures now bring income from sale or rental, contribute half that revenue to the nearby Catholic school now serving the parish.

It’s sound stewardship, because the intent of the original donors is respected, and its evangelization, as mission goes on.

I suppose Monsignor Leonard took some flack.  “We could sell or rent that old convent to a business for more money,” I can hear the critics chide.

There were sure no critics at all at the gala for Incarnation Home when he — along with Dr. Heagarty, Sister Una, and Jack Rudin — were honored the other night.

A Blessed Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Today I visited the Joseph P. Kennedy Center in Harlem to participate in the annual Catholic Charities Thanksgiving Food Distribution. We were able to provide food to hundreds of individuals.

Here is the statement that I released to the press today:

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Thanksgiving Statement
Kennedy Memorial Center
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving is a most wonderful time. We praise God for His many blessings, as we gather with family and friends. Thanksgiving is also wonderful because this season inspires a generosity that brings out the best in people. Our presence here today exemplifies this spirit of generosity. I, along with so many others, are here to help Catholic Charities provide more than 400 of our New York neighbors a healthy and hearty Thanksgiving meal as our own families will be doing.

However, Thanksgiving is bittersweet—especially this year. The need for an annual distribution of meals at Thanksgiving reminds us that all is not right with our nation—and world. In 2011, our economy does not provide sufficient opportunities for all to support themselves and their families. Far too many across the economic spectrum are struggling, anxious about their next meal or keeping a roof over their heads. Our Catholic faith always turns first and foremost to the poor and most vulnerable. It is often the babies, the oldest and the newcomer who are most threatened. But at the same time, we recognize that too many are now “nearly and newly poor” and that anxiety and fear will sadly be a part of their Thanksgiving in 2011. The dignity of each person as made in the image and likeness of God calls us to do better.

Let me focus on three basic human needs and rights that our Catholic tradition—along with many others—affirm: food, housing and work. This Thanksgiving, our nation faces a crisis in all three of these basic needs. Too many of our neighbors are without homes or are at the brink of losing them. And too many of our neighbors lack decent jobs.

Work is a basic human right. We need an economy in which everyone seeking work is able to find a decent job that enables them to support themselves and their families with the basics of food and shelter. Without sufficient, decent jobs, individuals and families are threatened and human dignity is compromised.

Two weeks ago, right here in this Catholic Charities Center, we had to ask 25 people waiting for food to come back on another day simply because we did not have enough food. That story is not unique to this center, this neighborhood, to Catholic Charities. It is repeated at programs run by our partners and colleagues throughout the New York metropolitan area and across the nation. New Yorkers are hungry. Americans are hungry—and our emergency food programs do not have enough food to meet this need.

Much has been done. I am amazed at the generosity of so many sectors of New York. This is a great blessing for which I praise God this Thanksgiving. I have seen the generosity of the business community in these difficult times. Even as tax revenues have decreased and cut-backs have been made—a number of which I have objected to—I still see an incredible amount of help being given to those in need in New York and throughout the nation by federal, state and local governments. Their continued support is essential. I see our Churches and Schools stretching further to meet needs. Our charitable, nonprofit organizations— Catholic Charities and other religious and non-sectarian organizations are extraordinarily effective in providing help and creating hope with limited resources. And yet more needs to be done so that all may secure the basic human rights to food, shelter and work.

I am proposing one specific initiative for our Catholic community that I hope might inspire others to do likewise. I am calling on every Catholic institution in the Archdiocese of New York—our parishes, schools, charitable institutions and other organizations— to join the FEED-OUR-NEIGHBORS Campaign and dedicate the last week of January, from January 22 to January 29, 2012- Sunday-Sunday, to increasing the supply of food available to feed hungry New Yorkers. Through a collection of either money or food goods, I am asking that we increase our efforts to ensure that New Yorkers who are hungry have enough to get by. As I do this, I want to recognize and praise the generous and dedicated work that our Catholic parishes and organizations—along with many others—are already doing. Without these efforts our current crisis would be much worse. This initiative cannot resolve the problem for it is impossible to make up all the reductions in resources. However, the fact that we cannot do everything is not an excuse to do nothing.

In addition, I am asking Monsignor Sullivan to work together with his colleagues, other food providers and government officials to see if there are ways we can develop together to better provide food to our hungry neighbors.

I end by borrowing from the Prophet Isaiah:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen;
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
And to provide the poor wanderer with shelter;
When you see the naked, to clothe them,
And not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
And your healing will quickly appear;
Then your righteousness will go before you,
And the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
[Isaiah 58]

 

  small image of PDF IconClick here to view and print out the PDF copy of this statement.

Letter on Immigration Rally

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Senator Ruben Diaz had a immigration rally this past Sunday. Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of New York Catholic Charities represented Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and me. We wrote the following letter in support of Senator Diaz’s rally:

October 2, 2011

Dear Friends:

Although we are not able to be present with you this afternoon because of parish Masses, we express our solidarity with you who have come together in the Bronx to stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers.

Thank you all for coming, and thanks to all those that have taken the necessary steps to bring us together today — religious and community leaders, and especially Senator Ruben Diaz.  Today continues the necessary effort to raise up the need to fix our broken immigration system.

We have an obligation as a nation of opportunity, a nation of newcomers, to welcome the newcomer.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fully supports the DREAM Act. This common-sense legislation would provide relief for so many youth that have been brought here by their parents, and are currently unauthorized to be here, by no fault of their own.  It would create a path for legalizing their status and enable them to reach their dreams and lend their talents to this Nation of Immigrants.

We support genuine comprehensive immigration reform that deals with security, family unification, a pathway toward legalization and an overall fair and generous legal immigration policy.  However, as we work for such comprehensive reform, we need to concentrate on policies and administrative remedies and reforms that support family reunification and provide relief for the most vulnerable immigration populations at risk of being deported — including the elderly, our youth and those with serious disabilities.

Families continue to be separated.  Overzealous enforcement of immigration laws has created a spirit of fear that is pushing people back into the shadows.

Our faith and the wisdom of America call us to welcome the stranger out of charity and respect for the human person.   We will continue to call for comprehensive immigration reform, and we call upon our elected officials to find opportunities for reform – both administrative and legislative – for those struggling to live a life of dignity and respect as we await full reform of our immigration system.

Our prayers are with you this afternoon.  May God bless you and your families.

Faithfully,

 

Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan     Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio
Archbishop of New York                   Bishop of Brooklyn

Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Over the past few days I’ve had numerous reminders of some of the many reasons I have to be thankful.  On Sunday, I was privileged to be able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral as we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King.  After more than 30 years, I am still overwhelmed by God’s goodness in calling me to serve as a priest.  To be able to offer Mass in a setting as magnificent as Saint Patrick’s, what I consider to be America’s Parish Church, still seems slightly unreal to me, more than seven months after I was so warmly welcomed as Archbishop of New York.

The next day I celebrated Mass at the Manhattan Correctional Center, a federal prison in lower Manhattan.  Although the contrast in the setting could hardly have been more pronounced, I was just as grateful, if not more so, for the opportunity to offer Mass with the prison inmates as I was with the parishioners at Saint Patrick’s.    The men and women who are there make up a very important part of my flock, and I, as their bishop, need to be there, to remind them of God’s unconditional love for each of us, even those in prison.  They inspire me.  One of the inmates came up to me and actually said, “I thank God I’m here, ‘cause with the Lord’s mercy and grace, I got my life turned around.”

Today I visited the Joseph P. Kennedy Center in Harlem, a part of Catholic Charities, and participated in their annual Thanksgiving dinner food distribution.   We were able to share turkeys, potatoes, vegetables, stuffing, and more with hundreds of individuals who are now able to prepare and serve a delicious dinner in their own homes.  Each year, Catholic Charities is able to serve people in ways almost too numerous to count.  I am so grateful for the work done every day by Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities, his staff, and the thousands of generous volunteers who help to support our mission to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the stranger in our midst.

Finally, tonight I am boarding a plane to travel home to be with Mom for Thanksgiving.  I can’t say it often enough:  no matter what happens in my life, no matter how many blessings I receive, there will never be anything for which I am more grateful than to have been the son of Robert and Shirley Dolan.  I am very much looking forward to spending a few days with Mom, to celebrate this special holiday with her, and to taste once again what I still consider to be the best pumpkin pie anywhere in the world.

It is my sincere prayer that your Thanksgiving will be similarly filled with a realization of the Lord’s blessings for you and your family.

photos by Michelle Anna Pagano

God is everywhere, even on the blog!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Welcome to my new blog, The Gospel In The Digital Age. I’m very excited about this new way of communicating, and I hope that it will prove to be an effective way for me to not only share what’s on my mind, but also to hear back from you.

First, let me begin with a bit of a confession. I’m really a rookie at all things related to the computer, so I’m going to be getting help having these posted. However, having read the theme for our Holy Father’s next World Communications Day Message, The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in the Digital Age: New Media At the Service of the Word, I thought it was time for me to get involved.
It’s my intention to post new entries whenever possible. I can’t promise daily updates, but if I have an opportunity to visit a parish, school, or Catholic Charities facility that you might like to know about, I’ll share it with you. (For instance, if this blog had been up and running last week, I’d have let you know about my visit to the Catholic Charities Immigration Hotline which is doing outstanding work helping newcomers to this country.) If there’s an interesting article that I come across, I’ll try to post a link to it. Or, if something just strikes me as interesting or thought-provoking that I think you might also like, this blog would be a good way to share it. As you would expect, much of “In The Digital Age” will have to do with the Archdiocese of New York, and the Church Universal. However, from time to time, other matters will surely inspire a blog post as well.
Please bear with me as this effort gets underway. My enthusiasm is genuine and I look forward to having the opportunity to be in regular communication with you.
God bless! Stay tuned! God is everywhere, even on the blog!