Posts Tagged ‘New Evangelization’

New York Catholic Spiritual Family

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I’ve pretty much been praying the same morning offering since my first Holy Communion.

Every once in a while, I’ll make a change or addition to my memorized prayer … and that happened this very day at 6:00 a.m.

When my niece Shannon was diagnosed with cancer a dozen years ago at age nine, I added Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha to the litany of my favorite friends in heaven whom I beseech at the opening of each day, figuring that she, who herself battled a life threatening illness when she, too, was a little girl, would have a special solicitude for Shannon.

Well, today, for the first time in 12 years, I invoked Saint Kateri Tekakwitha!

And, when I was appointed Archbishop of New York over three-and-a-half years ago, I added to that litany each dawn those beatified and canonized who are part of our New York Catholic spiritual family, including Blessed Marianne Cope.  Well, since she, too, got a promotion yesterday, I had the joy of invoking her early this a.m. as Saint Marianne Cope.

It was a thrill to concelebrate the Mass of Canonization Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square, united with 85,000 believers from all five continents, as Pope Benedict XVI solemnly declared seven new Saints, among them our beloved Kateri and Marianne.

Especially uplifting was to be here with thousands of pilgrims from home, including Native Americans of New York State, celebrating their own Kateri, and parishioners from now St. Kateri Parish in Lagrangeville, led by Monsignor Desmond O’Connor, their pastor, and a big crowd from the Diocese of Syracuse, home of St. Marianne Cope’s Sisters of St. Francis.

Congratulations as well for the beloved Filipino community at home, as their second countryman, Pedro Calungsod, was also canonized yesterday.

It’ll take me a while to get used to these two little changes in my morning prayers … but it is ever worth the effort!

Because part of my daily conversation with Jesus is that even more of the great state I proudly call my earthly home will one day be saints!

So, it’s back to work here in Rome at the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.  I miss you!  See you next Monday!

Parish Missions

Monday, October 15th, 2012

October 15, 2012
Feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus
Year of Faith

One of the points made over-and-over again here at the Synod in Rome is that the parish is on the front lines of the New Evangelization!

We bishops can talk “until we’re blue in the face” — and, believe me, some do over here! — about a re-energized and renewed sense of bringing Jesus to the world, but, if this does not become the mission of our parishes, forget it!

I remember speaking once to an ambassador accredited to the Holy See.  She, herself not a Catholic, observed that “The Catholic Church is the most ‘grassroots’ organization I’ve ever seen, because the real life of the Church occurs at the local level, in the parish.  Every believer, wherever he or she is, lives in a parish.”

It is the parish where we are baptized, confirmed, and fed with the Eucharist each Sunday.  It is in the parish where we meet our “pastor,” where we approach confession, where our children learn the faith and walk up the aisle for marriage.  It is in the parish where we find spiritual friendship and community, and where we can serve those in need.  It is in the parish where we’ll be commended to the Lord at the end of our earthly journey.

Thus I find the old custom of appointing a cardinal an “honorary pastor” of a parish in Rome, to a church that becomes his titular, to be rich in meaning.  In the 2000 year old life of the Church, the pastors of the parishes in Rome elect their bishop.  Thus, the cardinals, honorary pastors of their “titular churches,” gather in conclave to choose a new successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome: our Holy Father, the Pope.

When I became a cardinal last February, I was appointed “honorary pastor” of my titular Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on Monte Mario, in Rome.

And yesterday, I “took possession” of that parish.

What a great day it was!  Many cardinals have, as their titular churches, an historic one that might be more of a museum than a living parish.

Not Our Lady of Guadalupe!  This was as large, as welcoming, as dynamic, as youthful, as a parish in the Bronx!  They welcomed me like a returning father of the family — which I guess I am.  The church and the square outside were packed; the Mass was reverent yet lively; the folks were courteously attentive to my awkward Italian; the families young; the kids beaming; the choir great; and … the pranzo afterwards — with toasts in abundance, and even a Dixieland band! … superb.

In my conversations with the “real” pastor, Don Franco Mammoli, I learned that the parish was filled with young families and loyal elders; that it was the spiritual home of immigrants from the Philippines, Africa, and Asia; and that the poor in the neighborhood come to the parish for help.  Sound familiar?  I felt at home.  I was at home, as God’s children always are in the parish, even one not their own.

My big mistake was not knowing whether I should be a fan of the Lazio or the Roman soccer team!  Sounds like their version of the “Yankees/Mets,” or “Giants/Jets” question!

Of course, I commented to my “new parishioners” how appropriate it was that we both looked to Our Lady of Guadalupe as a patroness.  I wondered out loud if my appointment as titular pastor of this parish was recognition by Pope Benedict XVI of the great gift of our Mexican and other Latino brothers and sisters to the Archdiocese of New York.

As I left Monte Mario, I thanked God that my new parish was, in so many ways, already vigorous in the New Evangelization, and reminded anew that we bishops in the Synod are “whistlin’ Dixie” if our words do not penetrate to the soil, the grassroots, of the Church: the parish!

Synod Intervention

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

This morning I delivered my remarks at the Synod for the New Evangelization. I would like to share a copy of my text with you.

AMDG                                                                                                  JMJ

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Synod Intervention
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The great American evangelist, The Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, commented, “The first word of Jesus in the Gospel was ‘come’; the last word of Jesus was ‘go’.”

The New Evangelization  reminds us that the very agents of evangelization must first be evangelized themselves.  We must first come to Jesus ourselves before we can go out to others in His Holy Name.

Saint Bernard said, “if you want to be a channel, you must first be a reservoir.”

Thus I believe that the primary sacrament of the New Evangelization is the sacrament of penance, and thank Pope Benedict for reminding us of this.

Yes, to be sure, the sacraments of initiation – - Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist – - charge, challenge, and equip the agents of evangelization.

But, the sacrament of reconciliation evangelizes the evangelizers, as it brings us sacramentally into contact with Jesus, who calls us to conversion of heart, and inspires us to answer His invitation to repentance.  As we learned in philosophy, nemo dat qoud non habet (“no one gives what he does not have”).

The Second Vatican Council called for a renewal of the sacrament of penance, but what we got instead, sadly, in many places, was the disappearance of the sacrament.

So we have busied ourselves calling for the reform of structures, systems, institutions, and people other than ourselves.  Yes, this is good.

But the answer to the question “What’s wrong with the world?” is not, in the first place, politics, the economy, secularism, pollution, global warming, or other people . . . no.  As Chesterton, the eloquent British apologist, wrote, “The answer to the question ‘What’s wrong with the world?’ is two words:  I am.”

I am!  Admitting that leads to conversion of heart and repentance, the core of the Gospel-invitation.

That happens in the Sacrament of Penance.  This is the sacrament of the New Evangelization.

Renewing Our Faith by Old Habits

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Here I am in Rome all month for the Synod on the New Evangelization.  I miss all of you already – - but my next bowl of Spaghetti alla Carbonara will snap me out of it.

How do we renew, restore, repair, re-energize our faith in the Person, message, and invitation of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

That’s the challenge posed by the New Evangelization.

To renew, restore, repair, and re-energize our faith, individually, and communally, as the Church . . .

. . . and then to be agents of the New Evangelization to others.

One of the most prominent and influential converts to Catholicism in the history of the Catholic community in the United States was Dorothy Day.

I’m reading her excellent biography by Jim Forest, All is Grace.

Dorothy herself relates a number of features that drew her to Jesus and His Church.

One especially powerful one was when she shared a meager room with two other young women, struggling, like her, to make it, down in Greenwich Village.

These two roommates were Catholic. Simple Catholics, but sincere.  And Dorothy at the time was a socialist, probably an agnostic, living a rather hedonistic life.

And Dorothy watched the two other girls.  She admired them.  What moved her?  What inspired her?

One, they went to Mass every Sunday morning (their only morning to sleep-in, by the way);

Two, they prayed silently every night before bed;

Three, they were deeply in love with two men, and had set their wedding date, but they wanted “to wait” until marriage something they admitted was tough to do.  That virtue impressed Dorothy;

Four, they were from poor, struggling families, and thus had a heart for others in need.

Not bad: Sunday Mass; daily prayer; virtue, even when it’s tough; and a humble charity.

Their example evangelized a future saint, Dorothy Day.

Maybe the “New Evangelization” requires the recovery of some old stuff!

Mission Territories

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

As you are probably aware, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is going through a very rough time.  Those good people, our family members in the “Household of the Faith,” and their brave archbishop, Charles Chaput, deserve our love and prayers.

In his courageous and inspired efforts to bring hope and renewal to that Church in crisis, Archbishop Chaput recently made a statement that stopped me cold:  “The Archdiocese of Philadelphia . . . is now really a mission territory.’’

Yes, I had to read it twice, too.

Uganda a mission territory?  Sure . . .

Peru a mission territory?  Yes . . .

Alaska a mission territory?  Okay . . .

But Philadelphia?  Come on now!  That archdiocese in a way was the model of a robust, intact, cohesive Catholic infrastructure!  Parishes, schools, apostolates, ministries galore!  A huge Catholic population, with cardinals as past archbishops, vocations abounding, close to a million–and–a–half Catholics proud of and fervent in their faith, right?

What do you mean a mission territory?  Is Archbishop Chaput bluffing?

No!  I’m afraid he’s right on target.

And, guess what?  Our beloved Archdiocese of New York is also mission territory! 

True, thank God, we sure do not face the tsunami of current problems Philadelphia does.  Our financial picture is tight but solvent, our Catholic population actually growing, and extensive layoffs, shut-down of parishes, schools, and services, hardly anticipated.

But, we are a mission territory, too.  Every diocese is.  And every committed Catholic is a missionary.

This is at the heart of what Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI call the New Evangelization.

I was raised – - as were most of you – - to think of the missions as “way far away” – - and, to be sure, we can never forget our sacred duty to the foreign missions.

In fact, when wonderful Sisters of Mercy from Drogheda, Ireland, came to my home parish, Holy Infant, in Ballwin, Missouri, fifty-five years ago, we smiled when they humbly called themselves “missionaries.”

Couldn’t be, we chuckled:  we’ve been Catholic for generations; we’ve got a parish church and school; the Catholic Church is strong, proud, growing, standing tall!  We’re not Africa!  We’re not mission territory! 

Yes we were!  Yes we are!  The sisters were right!  Archbishop Chaput is correct!  Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are on target!

Maybe, we have gotten way too smug.  We have taken our Catholic faith for granted.  As Archbishop Chaput observed, the big problem is a dullness that has “seeped into church life, and the cynicism and resentment that naturally follow it . . .These problems kill a Christian love . . . they choke off a real life of faith.”

As my friend Greg Erlandson commented in Our Sunday Visitor, the archbishop’s sobering point was echoed by the President of the Catholic University of America, John Garvey, in his recent splendid address to us bishops.  What we’ve got, according to Mr. Garvey and paraphrased by Mr. Erlandson, is a societal crisis of faith.  “More and more residents of the Western World [you and me!]  are simply wandering away from their faith, which means that what is happening in Philadelphia is but a microcosm of a much more disturbing erosion.”

Have I depressed you yet?  I sure hope not!

Have I awakened you and challenged you!  I sure hope so.

Because, guess where we’re at:  We’re with the apostles on Pentecost Sunday as we embrace the New Evangelization. 

No more taking our Catholic faith for granted!

No more relaxing in the great things the church has accomplished in the past!

Cynicism is replaced by confidence . . .

Hand-wringing by hand-folding . . .

Dullness by dare . . .

Waiting for people to come back replaced by going out to get them . . .

Presuming that people know the richness of their Catholic faith replaced by a realistic admission that they do not . . .

From taking the Church for granted as a “big corporation,” to a tender care for a Church as small and fragile as a tiny mustard seed Jesus spoke about. . .

Keeping our faith to ourselves to letting it shine to others!

This is the New Evangelization!

The Archdiocese of New York is a mission territory!

The whole Church is!  Our parishes are!  Culture is!  The world is!

You and I are missionaries!

No longer can we coast on the former fame, clout, buildings, numbers, size, money, and accomplishments of the past.  As a matter of fact, all of this may have dulled us into taking our faith for granted.

No more!  We are missionaries.  And, it starts inside.  As Greg Erlandson concludes, “Without a conversion of heart, starting with ourselves, we may never truly address the heart of the current crisis.”

I don’t know about you, but I need the Year of Faith starting in October.

And I need the synod on the New Evangelization  in Rome this fall.

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.

Promoting New Evangelization

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I’m spending this week at the Vatican for the first-ever meeting of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.  I’m honored that the Holy Father has appointed me to this new and vital Council, responsible for helping to promote the faith.  The Holy Father met with us on Monday, and our meetings with Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Council, and cardinals and bishops from around the world have been enlightening and inspiring.  This is an area of tremendous emphasis for the Church, and it is reflected in the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone in these meetings.

Since I was in Rome, I took the opportunity to record my weekly radio program, “A Conversation with the Archbishop” for The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM Radio from the studios of Vatican Radio.  When I was Rector of the North American College in Rome, I used to record brief reflections for Vatican Radio, so it was great to be back.  We recorded this week’s show in the Karol Wojtyla Studios, named for Pope John Paul II, since it was the studio that he used to record 21 Polish-language programs for Vatican Radio while he was the Cardinal-Archbishop of Krakow, Poland.  I was a little let-down when I found out that I wasn’t the first Catholic Channel host to broadcast from the Karol Wojtyla Studio.  Apparently Lino Rulli, The Catholic Guy, beat me to it! Archbishop Fisichella, Sean Patrick Lovett who heads the English desk at Vatican Radio, and Monsignor Paul Tighe, a priest from Dublin who now works at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, were my guests.   I hope you will listen on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time to hear the show on Sirius XM 129.

With Archbishop Fisichella at the taping of the show

Sean Patrick Lovett and me

With Monsignor Paul Tighe

Photos by Joseph Zwilling

You’ll notice a television camera in the picture with Archbishop Fisichella.  The Today Show is broadcasting from the Vatican this Thursday morning, and they’ve asked me to be a part of it.  I’ll be with Matt Lauer and Al Roker from Saint Peter’s Square.  Should be a fun morning, so tune in if you can.

Have a blessed Ascension Thursday.