Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

A Parish of the Archdiocese of New York served by the Dominican Friars

January 26, 2016

Introduction to Dominican Chant

tumblr_n9wz3zm80S1qzix81o1_1280Beginning on Sunday, February 7, 2016, the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena will offer a three-part series of workshops on Dominican chant, the dialect of Gregorian chant used by the Order of Preachers.

Led by Fr. Innocent Smith, o.p., the workshops will take place on three successive Sundays, February 7, 14, and 21, from 3:00–3:50 pm in the Parish Hall of the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer (in the undercroft the Church, accessible from Lexington Ave. to the right of the front steps of the Church). On February 14 and 21 the workshop will be followed by Vespers at 4:00 pm in the Church, giving participants a chance to sing some of the chants they have studied in the workshop.

To RSVP for the workshops, please email

January 23, 2016

An Overview of Our Merger – Pastor’s Reflection (January 27, 2016)

This week, at the end of Parish Study, two people manifested some feelings of drift about the trajectory of our merger. Basically, they wanted to know where this is going. Certainly it’s a reasonable concern. I had written some conceptual pieces about the merger, over the summer, but we have not rehearsed the outline of it since then.  So, fair enough, and here goes.

On May 5, 2015, the Cardinal announced the merger of the Parishes of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Vincent Ferrer with the understanding that a single new parish will emerge from the process. As we have been teaching in Parish Study, a parish, like the whole church, is a community of souls. Forming such a community is therefore our primary responsibility.

•We will constitute a single community with two churches.
•The parish church for our new community will be the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer
•The new parish will also be served by a second church, the Church of St. Catherine of Siena, which will remain “open for Mass and sacraments.”
•In some merged parishes, the second church has not remained open for ordinary use. Examples near us include Our Lady of Peace and St. John the Martyr.
•In two years, this arrangement will be reviewed.

On August 1, 2015, the two parishes were merged canonically to form the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena. On September 1, 2016, they will become a new civil corporation with united finances. In the mean time,

•They remain separate civil corporations and they keep separate books
•Their collections are handled separately.
•Their funds are kept strictly separated.

We have this year to join the elements of parish life in a careful and deliberate fashion, and this process is underway.

•Parish Clergy
•We are establishing a united parish clergy.  Fr. Walter Wagner, Fr Joseph Allen, Fr. Jonah Pollock, and Fr. Innocent Smith
each say mass and hear confessions in both churches. They are assisted by hospital chaplains Fr. David Adiletta and Fr. John
Devaney. These Friars also say mass and hear confessions in both churches.
•Fr. Walter and Fr. Innocent also serve as Relief Chaplains for the Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York.

•A single Business Manager, Ms. Lee Ann Rubino, oversees the operations of both churches. Her responsibilities include
oversight of physical plant, supervision of employees, management of income, and coordination of expenses.
•Parish Office operations have been centered at St Vincent Ferrer under the direction of Rachel Miller.
•Office hours for the convenience of the faithful are also maintained at St. Catherine of Siena.

•Adult Formation was united in September of 2015 with the establishment of a joint Parish Study program to reflect on the
nature of the Church and to establish principles to govern the practical implementation of the merger.
•RCIA programs remain independent for weekly sessions, but will be united for the rituals of initiation during Lent and
Eastertide. We expect a fully integrated program next year.
•Religious Education for children remains separate, but we expect to form a united program in the fall.

•Common life
•The major communal liturgies and social gatherings of the parish year are shared between the two churches, except where the
Parish Church has an assigned role, as in the Easter Vigil and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
•The inaugural Mass involved both churches
•The Solemn Liturgy of All Saints Day was at St. Vincent Ferrer, while that of All Souls was at St. Catherine of Siena.
•The Solemn Mass for the Immaculate Conception was at St. Catherine of Siena, while Advent Lessons and Carols was at St.
Vincent Ferrer.
•Solemn Mass for the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas) and the Parish Mardi Gras will be at St. Catherine of Siena.
•Winter retreats for parish groups, Lenten Vespers, the Scrutinies will, as Parish Study, already does, alternate between both
•Because of cost, to promote our unity, and to avoid any semblance of competition, we will not duplicate extraordinary
•At the same time, we need to safeguard the bonds of daily life, and to that there will be gatherings such as parish coffees,
handled at the local level, at both churches.

•The united Parish Council has begun to meet.
•Its initial project will be the registration drive for the new parish.
•The Finance Council for St. Catherine’s has made its report to the parish for the last fiscal year.
•We will now develop a protocol for creation of a new Finance Council and a united financial structure.
•Our registration drive will yield a common parish roster and a united envelope system
•As part of the formation of the new parish we will need to commission Readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy

•Conversations Going Forward
•We will need to submit to the Cardinal three choices for the name of the new parish.
•Please Note! The names of the church buildings do not change.
•We will need to talk about the schedule of Masses and confessions.
•This will require us to pay attention to mass and confession availability throughout our neighborhood.
•We will need to reflect communally on the role of music in our worship.
•This will begin with teaching on this subject in Parish Study.
•The next step will be a survey of the whole community.
•A job description for music director will result.
•This will take account of
•Community preferences
•Dominican spirituality and mission
•What the new parish can pay
•What assistance will be required given the final Mass schedule and other demands such as weddings and funeral.
•A search will ensue

I do hope this clarifies the movement upon which we have been launched. What things will be like for us this time next year, I surely cannot say. I live with the unknown daily and I must invite you to do the same. I would only offer my settled conviction that an unknown accepted for Christ’s sake will not fail in blessings.


May your winter pass swiftly!


Fr. Walter

January 21, 2016

Postponement of Unity Week events

Due to weather related travel issues, Dr. Christopher Ruddy will not be able to present his lecture on Christian Unity and Evangelization on Thursday, January 21. Fr. Walter Wagner, O.P. will speak on a related theme at 7 pm at St. Catherine of Siena Church.

Due to the blizzard warning in place for New York City this weekend, the Solemn Mass scheduled according to the Anglican Ordinariate Divine Worship: The Missal scheduled at St. Catherine of Siena Church on January 23, 2016 has been postponed. The Mass and Day of Recollection for Christian Unity will be rescheduled for May 14, 2016, the Vigil of Pentecost. Further details of the schedule will be forthcoming. Please email if you wish to be receive further information about the May event.

January 20, 2016

Music at St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

To learn more about the Spring 2016 music programs at our parish, you may see the upcoming music schedule for the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer and the Church of St. Catherine of Siena.

January 16, 2016

The Life, and Lives, Confided to Us – Pastor’s Reflection (January 17, 2016)

In the first of Jesus’ signs at the Wedding at Cana, we are present as the distraught wait staff who have run out of wine. Mary looks at us lovingly, points to her Son lovingly, and says, “Do whatever He tells you.” The Blessed Mother says vulnerability to Christ is the way to go, and the mandate remains the same to this day.

Each time we walk into a confessional we tell Christ what we can barely admit to ourselves. As His followers, we trust His words and accept His Eucharist as the food for living well on the journey. We effectively submit ourselves to His direction when we pray to the Holy Spirit. As Catholics we rely on His promise to companion the Church through the same Spirit and we accept the doctrinal formulations and moral teachings developed within His Body. Receiving His promise, we walk in faith toward a heavenly homeland, and so our life has a shape understood less and less by our contemporaries.

Discipleship of this sort challenges the soul in thoroughgoing fashion, but Christ’s response to our vulnerability takes things over the top. He inserts us into an economy of trust.

Somehow when I make myself vulnerable to Christ, He responds by making other people vulnerable to me. If we marry in the Church, we find that we have a spouse and children who look to us for all kinds of sustenance and the quality of their lives depends on our response. In the domestic church we have the power to make or break days, months, or years. If I make religious vows I soon realize that the whole community has been placed into my hands to foster its potential, or not. I have vowed myself to obey the superior but I retain control over his quality of life, which depends on how I live mine. When I preach a homily or hear a confession I acquire a captive audience whom I can liberate, provoke into reflection, bore, or weigh down.

To live the Christian life fully demands seeing this power we have over others, and our reaction to it, for the fact of the other’s vulnerability can make me full of myself or it can terrify me into paralysis. I think Jesus intends neither. Rather, I believe He confides people to us because when we perceive the singular, complex, and delicate lives in our hands, we recognize the depth of our own vulnerability in a life giving way. To have the life of another open to me is to find an occasion of deep reverence for the maker of all life, and of each life. What I discover, to my amazement, is that God has shared with me His power to set life free, to foster its gifts, and to enable its potential.

It strikes me that in the extraordinary circumstance of this parish merger, our power over others needs to be palpable to us in just this way. Last night (Monday) we held the first combined Parish Council meeting for the new parish. I was moved by the ways in which the whole group recognized just this situation, so that each tried to establish safety for the others. Often this took the form of storytelling. As the councilors introduced themselves they would make a point of their good experience with the “other” church. They wanted to say, “I have a connection with you, I reverence you, and I will go forward carefully with you.” The session was a Pastor’s dream come true. The fruit of this meeting will come to you as a Lenten program for commitment to the new parish. I trust that you will perceive in the making and presenting of this initiative something of the mutual deference I experienced yesterday.

Beginning this Monday, January 18, we begin an intensive prayer for, a discussion of, the Unity of Christians. Here is an opportunity to recognize the vastness of the economy of trust. These celebrations invite me to recognize that everyone who has put on Christ in baptism has been confided by Him to my concern. When I ponder the number and variety of my fellow Christians I am summoned to pray for well-being, to seek understanding, and to long for unity.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity lasts from January 18 until January 25 when it concludes with the beautiful feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. As you study the program given for this week in the bulletin, please consider the witness to our age of not letting division shape us.

On Friday of this week, January 22, the Bishops invite us to pray and fast for the preservation of human life in the womb. Here is a yet wider circle of communion to which Christ has called us, and for which He has fitted us. How much vulnerable life there is to protect and nurture! So many chances to be like the one who holds our vulnerable selves in life, and shapes them for eternal life.

May your winter pass swiftly!
Fr. Walter Wagner, O.P., Pastor

January 13, 2016

That The World May Believe: Christian Unity and Evangelization

On Thursday, January 23 at 7 pm, Dr. Christopher Ruddy of Catholic University will give a talk at the Church of St. Catherine of Siena: “That The World May Believe: Christian Unity and Evangelization.” For more information about events for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena, click here.

Ruddy lecture

January 09, 2016

“Listen to Him”: The Holy Preaching of Jesus – Pastor’s Reflection (January 10, 2016)

In this second epiphany, or manifestation of the Lord, the Father not only identifies Jesus as His beloved Son, but commissions Him to preach by telling us to listen to Him. Here begins the public ministry by which, in words and deeds, Jesus will make clear the intent of God regarding us. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ, the new Moses, will show us God’s purpose to make His Law an unceasing dynamo of change in our hearts. All of His healings will go beneath the surface of people corroborating this plan to make them loving and living worshippers of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All of this ministry will have credibility because that life with God to which He summons us already exist in Him. This love becomes palpable on the Cross, by which that life and love in Him comes to be in us. Thus, Jesus is His own preaching, and His words and deeds clarifies the impression He gives to the eyes of faith, even as a wordless infant.

His continuing ministry will be clear this Sunday at St. Catherine’s when men and women declare themselves for receiving the sacraments at Easter.  I hope it will be palpable next weekend when the St. Catherine’s community takes a close look at its finances.

As I write you these lines I prepare to do a week of retreat preaching for our Dominican Sisters in Nashville. Such a privileged time as retreat serves to disclose what the Lord wants to say to the listeners, and to the speaker. Its greatest gift comes in the particular epiphany of Intimacy with Christ.

Throughout my time in New York I have tried to preach one retreat a year as I think it promotes my own spiritual development which I hope benefits you.

Always we seek to carry preaching beyond the bounds of the Sunday Homily. Thus in Parish Study we usually explore a biblical text or church document in depth. Another preaching people often seek is the overview. They express a desire to go deeper with their faith, or to reconnect with it after having been away from its practice for some time. To meet this need we offer the series entitled “Upper Room” after the place where Jesus disclosed his Eucharistic identity at the Last Supper and assembled His Apostles and His Mother to await the Holy Spirit. We begin this program each January and continue with it until the Day of Pentecost, which falls this year on May 15. Our textbook is the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, whose singular iconography captures so much of the Gospel. For adult Catholics who complete this program I am able to offer the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost. If you would be interested in this program, please know that we will begin to meet this year on January 24 at 4PM, at St. Vincent’s. It would be helpful if you would call Rachel Miller at (212) 744-2080 to let us know. If you do not get the chance to make the call, come anyway.

An essential eloquence of Jesus’ preaching in this parish is the involvement of lay people in its liturgical ministry as readers and as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. This winter we will sponsor retreats for both groups, so that we can offer spiritual support, practical formation, and a formal re-commissioning.  This work will provide another bond of unity in the new parish. The retreat for Lectors will be on January 30, and that for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will be on February 20. Please hold these Saturday Mornings as they apply.

I hope that this weekend you will welcome the young preachers from the House of Studies as they come to ask for your support. Theirs is a good cause, and a real financial need. For all of us, these young men are the future. Please encourage them if you can.

May your winter pass swiftly!


Fr. Walter

January 04, 2016

Parish Study: Spring 2016

Parish Study takes place each Tuesday evening from 7–8 pm, alternating from month to month in the Parish Halls at St. Vincent Ferrer Church and St. Catherine of Siena Church.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer What is a Pastor? [Fr. Walter]
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Catherine of Siena, and the Great Western Schism [Fr. Innocent]
Tuesday, January 26, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer Clergy, Religious, and Laity in a Dominican Parish [Fr. Jonah]
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena Feast of the Presentation of the Lord / Parish Party
Tuesday, February 9, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena Liturgy: the worship of God and the sanctification of human beings [Fr. Innocent]
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena Music in Parish Worship [Fr. Innocent]
Tuesday, February 23, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena Practical discussion of Parish liturgy [Fr. Walter]
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer The communion of saints and the patronage of a parish [Fr. Jonah]
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer The parish as Mother of Jesus: the work of formation [Fr. Walter]
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer The Easter Vigil and the Paschal Mystery [Fr. Innocent]
Tuesday, March 22, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena Holy Week Parish Study following 5:15 Mass
Sunday, March 27, 2016 Easter Sunday  
Tuesday, March 29, 2016 Break
Tuesday, April 5, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer Solemnity of St. Vincent Ferrer
Tuesday, April 12, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena The Parish and its World [Fr. Walter]
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena The social life of the parish [Fr. Walter]
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 St. Catherine of Siena Healthcare and the Parish [Fr. Jonah]
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer Financial Stewardship [Fr. Walter]
Tuesday, May 10, 2016 St. Vincent Ferrer Pentecost and the New Evangelization [Fr. Jonah]
Sunday, May 15, 2016 Pentecost Sunday


January 02, 2016

You Will Never Know It’s Winter – Pastor’s Reflection (January 3, 2016)

Because of bulletin deadlines I write you on December 23, while we rush to get ready for Christmas. At this point I cannot reach the deeper recesses of the mystery of the Epiphany, so let me amend the plan for the next several months that we published several weeks ago.  We have developed it somewhat.

  • Enriching the communal life of the Parish
    • January 24 will begin a regular practice of Parish Coffees at St. Catherine’s. Thereafter we hope to celebrate these on the third Sunday of the month.
    • St. Catherine’s will also break the mid-winter gloom with a pair of celebrations. On February 2, at 6:30 pm we will celebrate the Lord’s Presentation, with its lovely procession of the Faithful carrying candles.
    • On the following Saturday, February 6, we hold will our Parish Mardi Gras in St. Dominic Hall after the 5:15 pm Vigil Mass.
    • A special observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity promises to deepen the intellectual and spiritual practice of the Faith.
    • January 18 – Opening Mass at St. Vincent Ferrer
    at 6 pm.
    • January 19 – Parish Study takes up the subject of
    our patrons, St Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of
    Siena, and positions on opposite sides of the Great
    Western Schism of the Church.
    • January 20 – Holy Hour for Christian Unity
    • January 21 – Lecture on Christian Unity at St.
    • January 22 – National Day of Prayer and Penance
    for the Preservation of Life. Votive Masses will be
    said in both churches.
    • January 23 – Solemn Mass according to the new
    Anglican Missal at St. Catherine’s.
    • January 25 – Sung Mass for the Feast of the
    Conversion of St Paul and the closing of the
    • The gradual formation of a united Parish Council.
    • In view of the merger we have not added new members to the the Parish Council of St. Vincent Ferrer. The members are Lou Zacharilla (Chair), Sr. Mary Elena Rizzo, O.P., Lois Deming, Philip Morace, Ashley Rose and Lane Shea, and David Linnehan.
    • At St. Catherine’s I have asked Helen Cox, Peggy Gale, Peter Marchewka, Fran Warga, and Steve and Kim Quatela to form a Parish Council.
    •Each group is helping me to be aware of the issues facing each congregation as this process goes forward.
    • Each group has also engaged in providing our Province of St. Joseph with a candid assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Friars’ ministry in each place.
    • The Parish Council meet jointly to design a drive for parish registration. See below.
    • The gradual union of Finance Councils. This needs to be handled carefully since St. Vincent’s and St. Catherine’s will be functioning as separate civil corporations for some time yet.
    • At St. Vincent’s, Lauretta Bruno, Lois Deming, Joan Carvo, Peter Handal, Joe Brownell, and Jean-Hugues Monier have helped us analyze our performance for the previous fiscal year and present it to the parish.
    • At. St. Catherine’s, the vagaries of transition have slowed the production of the latest reports. However, we now have those figures. It will be a relief to sit down with Tom Warga, Ed Munshower, Stanley Nadel, and Anthony Pirraglia, to go over our most recent performance and present it to the congregation. Also important to this task will be the Parish Trustees, Peter Marchewka and Alessandra Cabras.
    • This presentation is now scheduled for the weekend of January 16 -17.
    • On the following Sunday, January 24, after the Noon Mass we will have a listening session so that Parishioners raise their concerns on finances and other matters.
    • A process of communal reflection on the name of the new parish so that we can give the Cardinal three alternatives when the time comes. Parish Study will take up this matter on March 1.
    • We all need to register for the new parish. In tandem with this, we need to convince more people to take this step of commitment. Our combined Parish Council will take a lead in this. Perhaps it will serve us as a Lenten work. Parish Study will lay a foundation for this in its early sessions, beginning on January 12.
    • To pool our resources and develop a comprehensive program of religious education for the new parish. Toward this end, Lisa Harrelson who administers the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Catherine’s has been completing the coursework necessary to be a Director of Religious Education (dre) in the Archdiocese. Once she possesses this certification, she can provide training to other catechists, so that the whole program can be up to code. Parish Study will address the work of faith formation when it meets on April 12.
    • Clergy and Laity will need to reflect on the Mass and confession schedule of the new parish. What can we sustain? What does the common good ask of us?
    • The whole new community must be heard on the subject of liturgical music, so that we can frame a program that serves our worship. Parish Study sessions on February 9, 16, and 23 will be important for this reflection.
    • The Jubilee of the 800th anniversary of the Friars began on November 7. It will be a great work of the merger to develop a parish plan of celebration as we draw near to the anniversary itself on December 22, 2016.

May your winter pass swiftly!


Fr. Walter

January 01, 2016

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016

NB: Due to weather related issues, the lecture on Thursday, January 21 will be given by Fr. Walter Wagner, O.P., and the Afternoon of Recollection will be postponed until May 14, 2016, the Vigil of Pentecost.


God wills the Church, because he wills unity, and unity is an expression of the whole depth of his agape. … To believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father’s plan from all eternity (St. John Paul II, Ut unum sint, §9)

The Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena will host the following special events and liturgies during the 2016 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18–25):

15148233489_b768877c27_oMonday, 1/18, 6 pm (Church of St. Vincent Ferrer): Opening Mass for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Tuesday, 1/19, 7 pm (St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Hall): Parish Study

“St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Catherine of Siena, and the Great Western Schism” — Fr. Innocent Smith, o.p.

Wednesday, 1/20, 7:30 pm (Church of St. Vincent Ferrer): Holy Hour for Christian Unity (Meditation on John 17 by Fr. Walter Wagner, o.p.)

Thursday, 1/21, 7 pm (Church of St. Catherine of Siena): Lecture on Christian Unity

That The World May Believe: Christian Unity and Evangelization” — Dr. Christopher Ruddy (Catholic University of America)

Fr. Walter Wagner, O.P. will speak on unity and evangelization

Friday, 1/22 (both churches, all Masses): Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Saturday, 1/23: (Church of St. Catherine of Siena): Day of Prayer for Christian Unity

NB: Due to upcoming weather conditions, this event is now rescheduled for May 14, 2016.

12 pm: Solemn Mass

Celebrated according to the Anglican Ordinariate Divine Worship: The Missal

Music by the Schola Dominicana of Saint Catherine’s (James D. Wetzel, Choirmaster)

Collegium Regale Communion Service – Howells

All wisdom cometh from the Lord – Moore

Sing, O heav’ns – Amner

1 pm: Refreshments

2 pm: “More an Mere Words: Anglicans and the Journey to Christian Unity” — Fr. James Bradley (Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham)

3 pm: “Unity and Diversity in the Liturgy” — Fr. Innocent Smith, o.p.

4 pm: Eucharistic Adoration

4:30 pm Evensong

Mass and Evensong will be celebrated according Divine Worship, a liturgical form authorised by the Holy See that draws on the richness of the Anglican liturgical patrimony

Please RSVP to

Monday, 1/25: 6 pm (Church of St. Vincent Ferrer): Closing Mass for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Church of St. Vincent Ferrer
869 Lexington Ave (at 66th St.)
New York, NY, 10065
Church of St. Catherine of Siena
411 East 68th Street (at 1st Ave)
New York, NY, 10065