NEW YORK - In two days Pope Francis has spoken to some of the most powerful people on Earth —– U.S. senators and Congress representatives and the world diplomatic community at the United Nations.

Published in Francis in America

It’’s actually hard to gather a sense of how New Yorkers are responding to Pope Francis. Out on the street, it seems like there are no native New Yorkers. Everybody is either a tourist or part of a visiting TV crew, filing their own reports on how New Yorkers are greeting Pope Francis.

Published in Francis in America

NEW YORK - Pope Francis’ appeal to Congress on behalf of migrants has heartened New Yorkers, none more so that Franciscan Father Julian Jagudilla, director of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi’s Migrant Centre.

Published in Francis in America

NEW YORK - New Yorkers and tourists in midtown Manhattan have been gazing up at a smiling Pope Francis at one of New York's busiest intersections.

Published in International

Americans are gung-ho for Pope Francis’ U.S. visit — if they know he’s coming.

They really, really like him, too, particularly Catholics — even if they’re sometimes confused about what he believes.

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September before his trip to the United States.

Published in International

NEW YORK - Cardinal Edward Egan, who served as archbishop of New York through the trauma of the 9/11 terror attacks and the clergy sex abuse scandal but was best known for administrative acumen that helped solidify the finances of the sprawling archdiocese, died March 5. He was 82.

Published in International
NEW YORK - The day after a grand jury decided it would not indict a New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, the New York City Commission of Religious Leaders asked that any protests arising from the matter be peaceful.

Published in International

NEW YORK - The Archdiocese of New York, with the second-largest Catholic population in the country and an unparalleled place in U.S. Church history, is shrinking: Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Nov. 2 announced that nearly a third of the archdiocese’s 368 parishes would be merging, and some would close.

Published in International

The United Nations should create a permanent, rapid-response peacekeeping force for rapid intervention in emergencies, said Canada’s elder statesman of peace and disarmament.

Published in International

NEW YORK - After years of strong resistance, organizers of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade said that gays and lesbians will be allowed to march under their own banner for the first time, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan — the parade’s grand marshal next March — has welcomed the move.

Published in International

NEW YORK - It’s known as the United Nations church.

About halfway along 47th Street, just west of the UN’s iconic tower on First Avenue in Manhattan — and in an area known as Dag Hammarskjold Plaza — is Holy Family Church, a name that also reflects its long time roots in the city’s east side neigh­bourhood, where it also serves 500 families in the community.

The present Holy Family building, a stunningly beautiful modern structure, was dedicated by Cardinal Francis Spellman in 1965, just before Pope Paul VI’s visit to the UN in October of that year. A cornerstone commemo­rates an ecumenical meeting the pontiff held at the church. The parish actually dates to the 1920s when it was established as the church for the local Turtle Bay Italian neighbourhood.

The church plays a significant role in the UN community by housing the residence and office of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, as well as offices of national and in­ternational UN-related Catholic organizations. The church’s dedi­cation was attended by then UN Secretary General U Thant. Holy Family continues to be the site of many UN religious observances.

“In fact just this past Monday we had a prayer service for the opening of the General Assembly,” Fr. Robert Robbins, the church’s pastor of 23 years, said in a late September interview. Ambassa­dors and UN personnel attended.

Robbins, a native of the Bronx who is leaving Holy Family for several new roles with the New York archdiocese, including director of community outreach, says the international flavour of the parish creates a unique community.

“It’s always interesting because what we have is a New York City parish which is also attempting to reach out to Catholic members of the UN with different cultural backgrounds, so each time something presents itself — for instance a memorial service or something like that — you’re going to get the mission in from Peru or some other country,” he said.

“It’s just very interesting trying to deal with the language differ­ences, the cultural differences, also the religious expression, because South American countries espe­cially have devotions that wouldn’t be known to us in North America.”

Parishioner Margie Skeels, a former parish council president who works with the UN Devel­opment Program, said being a member of the church “raises the level of my faith. Personally I have a chance to live my faith through the UN.”

The building is almost awe-inspiring in its architecture and art work — with sculptures, altars, stained glass and a unique presen­tation of the Stations of the Cross — created by various international artists, including a Canadian.

The original church was built on a stable because the area between First and Second Avenues once abounded in slaughterhouses. Some of that building is contained in the present structure.

The new church’s architect, George J. Sole, created a church symbolic of a stone monument and which partly harmonizes with the UN building itself. The exte­rior’s gray granite walls consist of panels with a cruciform pattern surrounded by four squares, rep­resenting a community gathered around Christ. The interior is spare, but that complements its breathtaking artistic details.

The altar is made from black granite quarried near the Canadian Arctic, behind which is a towering aluminum sculpture of the Risen Christ with a large testa or crown of lights. It, along with the statues at the two side altars, and the statue of the Virgin Mary in an outside garden next to the church, were made by the Italian studio of Nagni. The side altars represent themes of sacrifice, uni­versality and peace.

The west wall incorporates the related grouping of three large stained glass windows and three ceramic sculptures, referencing the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt with the dispossession of contem­porary refugees.

The Stations of the Cross, on the east wall, are one continuous set of sculpted images. In the 11th station, the sculptor has pressed into clay the tools used in the crucifixion. In the 12th, there is a reference to the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop to Christ hanging on the cross.

The stations, windows and ceramics are all from the studio of Catalan-born artist Jordi Bonet, who emigrated to Canada and worked from a studio in Montreal until his death in 1979. His sculp­tures can be seen as far afield as JFK airport in New York and the Pie-IX subway station in Montreal.

(Stang is a freelance writer in Windsor, Ont.)

Published in International

NEW YORK - Evangelists at a century-old missionary organization in New York spread the word of God without leaving their nondescript building in midtown Manhattan.

The people they evangelize never see the missioners, but they recognize the Light of the World in the materials they receive from the Xavier Society for the Blind.

The organization provides Catholic religious and spiritual material free of charge to more than 10,000 blind, visually impaired and physically restricted people throughout the United States.

Published in Features

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York's Catholic bishops have called for state lawmakers to approve a "modest" increase in the state's minimum wage.

New York's current minimum wage is $7.25. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages. A bill sponsored by Sheldon Silver, a Democrat who is speaker of the state Assembly, the legislature's lower chamber, has sponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage to $8.50. The Republican-controlled state Senate has stated its opposition to a hike in the minimum wage.

Published in International

When you tell people you’re going on a service trip to New York, many question the nature of the trip. The connotation of a service trip can lead one to think of trips to Vietnam or Uganda, working in Third World countries to help the most recognizable poor. 

The struggles faced by the people living in the Bronx are often overlooked. But this wasn’t the case when I travelled to New York with classmates from my high school.

Published in YSN: Speaking Out
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