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

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

October 30, 2018

All Saints Day and All Souls Day

All Saints Day and All Souls Day Mass Schedule

Church of St. Vincent Ferrer

869 Lexington Avenue (at 66th Street), New York, NY, 10065

Thursday, November 1
6:00 pm (October 31): Vigil Mass 
8:00 am: Low Mass
12:10 pm: Sung Mass
6:00 pm: Solemn Mass and Procession

Friday, November 2
8:00 am: Low Mass
12:10 pm: Sung Requiem Mass
6:00 pm: Low Mass

Church of St. Catherine of Siena

411 East 68th Street, New York, NY, 10065

Thursday, November 1
5:15 pm (October 31): Vigil Mass 
7:00 am: Low Mass
1:00 pm: Low Mass
5:15 pm: Low Mass

Friday, November 2
7:00 am: Low Mass
1:00 pm: Low Mass
5:15 pm: Solemn Requiem Mass and Procession


October 27, 2018

Communion of Saints – Pastor’s Reflection (October 28, 3018)

After eight years of baptizing infants, the baptism of each infant still brings singular joy.  I know the words of the rite well enough by now that if the baby wants to play tug-of-war with the book we can have some real fun and stay on track at the same time.  As our little group traverses the contours of the ceremony I try to point out the joys that have become familiar to me at every turn.  Among the first is prayer.  The first thing we do for the child after claiming the little one for Christ with the sign of the Cross is pray for him or her.  In a series of intercessions for child and family we establish our relationship with this baby in Christ’s Body, the Church.  But to our prayers we add immediately those of the Saints.  I begin a little Litany of the Saints specified in the rite, then I add St. Catherine and St. Vincent, plus any others I think might be applicable.  At the end I say, “All Holy Men and Women…,” and by this point the group is conditioned enough to answer, “pray for us.”  

It comes as a quiet joy to point out that the baby and all these ancient people are connected in the same Church, not just by unity of belief or legal fact, but by a living bond.  Their eternal encounter with God engages the Saints completely, yet in some mysterious way He lets them know of this tiny person and it becomes part of their heavenly task to remember this vibrant bundle of life in the Triune Presence.  Why?

We hope, in a moment of Baptism, that life will proceed normally and that this newest Christian will outlive parents and godparents who brought her to church and put on her the white garment of new life.  Some day, off in the mid to late Twenty-First Century, in a world we cannot imagine, perhaps she will bring them to church one last time and she will unfurl a white garment over their caskets.  In God’s way this will complete one way of relating, but only to inaugurate another.  From that moment of her baptism He has presented her to the saints for prayer, now He will present her dead to her for prayer.  Why?

At the beginning and at the end we are clothed in white by others.  Why?

God perfects each of us as an individual, but His perfection of our individuality weaves us into interdependence.  The fullness of our personal happiness will include openness to caring for and to being cared for.  From christening dress to funeral pall, we show up every Sunday to “receive communion,” because, Eucharist by Eucharist, we are being woven into a fabric of living relationships that straddles the ages of time and the border separating time from timelessness.  The sacrament of communion fits us into the life of communion.  All our life long, Monday to Saturday, we get merit badges for being self-reliant, but on Sunday we are incorporated into a living world where self-sufficiency has been unlearned.

From Monday to Saturday we learned how to make and keep contracts that protect our interest.  But Sunday’s Eucharist admits us to a post-contractual world that links us to those in heaven and to those on the way there.  The Saints in heaven pray for us and we pray for the faithful departed in purgatory.  Consider that these channels of concern admit of no reciprocity.  Charity’s choice to love without strings fuels this whole cycle.  It enables earthbound Christians to bring all the living and the dead to Church, while those freed mortal constraints bring us to the Throne of Mercy with unconstrained love. 

This week All Saints Day and All Souls Day will work together to show us the beauty and power at work in the Church where human beings are being trained to love as God loves and thereby to be happy as His happy. 

It’s always a happy thing to see a newly baptized baby go home bundled securely in the arms of her mom and dad.  It’s a deeper pleasure to ponder the arms that will always hold her within the communion of saints.

Fr. Walter

October 22, 2018

Looking to What is Unseen: God’s Glory in the Sick and Suffering – Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York


October 20, 2018

Ministers of Hope

Dear parishioners,

I write to you as friends, fellow disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and members of this wonderful parish on New York’s Upper East Side.  I have come to know many of you in the six-plus years I have spent in the Priory of St. Catherine of Siena; some of you from my involvement in the former Parish of St. Catherine of Siena, and others since the merger and establishment of our new parish three-plus years ago.  I have been gratified and favorably impressed by the way in which our two former parishes have come together as one.  Personally, I have been enriched by the many friendships and joyful experiences this union has afforded me.  As a priest, I have been fulfilled by the opportunities I have had to preach and minister in this still newly-developed cell within the Body of Christ.  In my role as Director of Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York I have been honored to share with you our service to the sick and those who care for them.  I have felt your prayerful and generous support for this wonderful ministry that I am privileged to direct.

We have come together as a parish in marvelous and significant ways.  But the task of unity in the Body of Christ is never complete.  Part of that task for us – a part that is particularly important to me – is to further unite our Parish and our Health Care Ministry.  Many of you know about Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York and the work we do in the hospitals on the Upper East Side and for the wider health care community.  Some of you may be less aware, so allow me to provide a summary account.

First of all, I invite you to take a look at our website,  On the “About Us” page, you will find a couple of videos that introduce major aspects of our ministry; as well as pages describing our mission, our history, who we are, and what we do.  Much of what we do takes place in the hospitals near the Church of St. Catherine.  Four Dominican priests and dozens of lay ministers of Holy Communion provide pastoral care, ethical guidance, and the administration of the Church’s sacraments more than 60,000 patient visits each year Dominican priests respond to pastoral emergencies at all hours of day or night.  In addition to that, we serve the New York City health care community by providing formation in Catholic health care ministry to priests, seminarians, and lay people, hosting devotional, educational, and social events, and publishing articles on ethics, faith, and health care.  In these ways and more, we are committed to bringing the healing presence of Jesus Christ to the sick and those who care for them.

My hope is that every member of our parish becomes conscious of having a personal connection to this ministry.  It would be great if many parishioners became more familiar with the details of who we are and what we do. More than that, however, I want you to know your connection with our Health Care Ministry as a member of the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena.  Bringing the healing love of Christ to the sick and the illuminating truth of Christ to the health care community is a mission that doesn’t just belong to a few Dominican friars and a few dozen lay collaborators.  It is a mission that uniquely marks our parish. 

Your prayers are a real source of support and consolation.  Moreover, you are part of a worshiping community, a church in the Church, to which the sick in our hospitals are mystically connected.  When I, my brother priests, or our extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion visit our sick brothers and sisters in the hospitals and administer the sacraments to them, they are connected more closely to Christ and also to Christ’s body the Church.  It is the Eucharistic communion of the Church – and of this particular parish church – that we extend through our ministry to the sick.  The Communion we administer to the sick is the Communion we celebrate in our churches.

I, and my Dominican brothers, feel that connection powerfully.  We try to communicate an understanding of that connection between the church and the hospitals to our lay ministers of Holy Communion.  I hope the parishioners of our Parish can come to know and experience that more fully.  To that end, I look forward to preaching and celebrating Mass with many of you during our decade of prayer from the Feast of St. Luke to the Feast of St. Jude that will highlight the shared mission of this parish with Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry and the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude, that of proclaiming and manifesting the healing love of Christ Jesus.  I also hope to speak to many of the groups connected with the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena about our health care ministry and the ways that you can and do support it.

I remain, under the patronage of our great saints, Vincent and Catherine, yours in Christ,
Fr. Jonah Pollock, O.P.

October 13, 2018

Ministers of Hope – Pastor’s Reflection (October 14, 2018)

May you read these lines in the bright clear light of Autumn.  I hope that the regular patterns of your life have resumed serenely and that you will be able to join our parish, hospital chaplaincy, and shrine in a fresh project of prayer from October 18, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, to October 28, the feast of our Patron, St. Jude Thaddeus. 

For our new parish, regular life means medical life, and the pace of that life knows no season.  Four of the Dominican Friars with whom I live and work serve the Lord and the Church as hospital chaplains.  They serve in the three neighboring hospitals, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Weil-Cornell Medical Center, and the Hospital for Special Surgery.  Each Chaplain covers assigned floors every day, and they take turns holding the emergency beeper for 12 or 24 hour periods.  Their responsiveness to the beeper’s summons offers a preaching in itself.  During the night shift the Friars hope to get from their bed to the patient’s bedside in 10 minutes’ maximum. During the day it is normal for us to see a man slip away suddenly from community prayers or meals.  Nobody asks where the Friar is going, we each send him on his way with a whispered prayer. 

From time to time I have carried the beeper as a substitute and I have glimpsed their experience of hurrying through city streets and hospital corridors to enter not just a room, but the whole world of a sick person, their family and friends, and medical staff who care for them.  These encounters can last the five minutes it takes to anoint, or they can result in a sustained pastoral relationship.  So often in such settings, there are few helpful words beyond the ritual ones, but there is the communication of the Friar’s quick response and attentive presence.  Truly this wordless preaching seems to reach people in trauma, who themselves lack words, or an appetite for words. 

The Chaplains bring anointing, absolution, and communion.  In the latter task they have the assistance of a wonderful corps of lay ministers of the Eucharist.  All of these people are bringing God’s actions of love to those who have ample reason to be skeptical of that love. 

What they offer renews hope at the bottom of life, and so it fits well under the patronage of both St. Luke and St. Jude.  

During these 10 days of prayer we hope to translate this ministry of hope into the language of the pulpit.  Our hospital chaplains will be spearheading the preaching of our “decade” of prayer connecting St. Luke, the patron of physicians, to St. Jude, the patron of those whose hope is failing.  The prayers of this devotion will be said at all the Masses in our Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena.  The students at St. Vincent Ferrer High School will make the ten days along with us, and the Chaplains will invite patients and their families to join.

In each of our two churches the image of St. Jude will be our station of prayer, set up with holy cards and petition slips. 

Would you join?  Why not connect to the power of this common prayer those you love who find themselves at the bottom of life, physically, financially, emotionally, or spiritually?  Prayer of this kind works like the sacraments themselves to direct hope beyond health and wealth toward God.  In the face of life’s apparent dead ends, God promises Himself, not only in the next life, but now.  Even now God’s love transforms human experience Moments of sickness, loneliness, and loss, can become times of spiritual growth when given to God.

Help us give a common witness to hope in these days of prayer, and may you never lose heart along the way to God.

Fr Walter


Decade of Prayer

Dear Parishioners,

Greetings!  This is Fr. John Maria Devaney, o.p. from the Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York.  We are again approaching the celebration of another Novena to St. Jude, here at the saint’s shrine in our Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena.  This year, as you may have read, we are expanding the celebration to include the feast of another great apostle, St. Luke.  Most of us know of the famous devotion to St. Jude, as the patron of hope, yet many of us are unaware that St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons.  This year we are inspired to celebrate a decade of days of preaching and prayer.  Starting on the Feast of St. Luke (October 18th) until the eve of the Feast of St. Jude (October 27th) themed “From Healing to Hope.”  The Chaplains of the Dominican Friars Health Care Ministry of New York are honored to be preaching these days of prayer, which are sponsored by our own Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude.   

So, why this theme?  As many of you know, our parish and our friars find ourselves caretakers to a very special history of chaplaincy work for the sick and terminally ill, their loved ones and the medical workers in the hospitals of our neighborhood.  Physicians strive to always heal by the art of medicine and every single one of us has been a recipient of a doctor’s special care.  Their healing care leads us to maintain our hope in the face of perhaps serious illness or just the advancing of years.  However, we also know that healing will not come for all entrusted to a physicians care.  That is the reality. Death will come to us all. But as Catholic’s, our virtue of Hope propels us to cling fast to the promise of eternal life with The Holy Trinity, Mary, and all the Saints in heaven.

So with our upcoming decade of prayer, we look to our decades of chaplaincy work in the hospitals, thanking God for allowing us to serve Him and to serve here.  Our time serving in the hospitals, is made even more special by the countless people who in turn come to visit us.  The sick, their loved ones, the healthcare workers who care for them, all visit our parish, our Church and our Shrine of St. Jude.  Each day they visit, they light a candle and say a prayer in front of Saint Jude, asking for healing and hope for themselves, their loved ones or someone they are caring for.  So during these upcoming ten days, let us all unite our prayers with theirs.  Let us come together as a parish and pray for  “Healing and Hope” for all of us, and particularly for all those in the neighberhood hospitals.  From the feast of St. Luke, to the eve of the feast of St. Jude, let us all pray that God blesses all of us with health and hope and that God uses our parish, our Health Care Ministry, and our Shrine of St. Jude via the intercession of St. Luke and St. Jude to continue to allow us do His work in the hospitals we serve. 

St. Luke and St. Jude, Pray for us!
Fr. John Maria

October 06, 2018

Rosary Sunday – Pastor’s Reflection (October 7, 2018)

Today at Mass I hope you will take a blessed rose petal.  Br. Damian and his assistants have dried and pressed flowers all summer for you to have this small token of freshness to carry into the cold months.  Transfixed by the tumult of our days we will easily overlook a dried petal wrapped in plastic with its old fashioned prayer.  Rightly, we will take it as brittle, fragile, and forgettable.  Ah!  But here lies the point; onto this tiny thing, for which I would not spare a glance, God has telescoped vast amounts of reality.  The petal carries the essence of a rose we thought was gorgeous, and that flower represents a whole bush whose luxuriance and fecundity amazed us all summer long.  The bush in turn sank roots in a garden or greenhouse where it took its place and a whole chorus of floral beauty that delighted countless eyes.  This little wisp of a thing connects us to so much life, natural loveliness, and loving human work.

The paradox of the petal also makes rosary beads preach powerfully.  Rosaries lurk everywhere.  They hang from habits and necks, they nestle in pockets and purses, and they fill palms open to receive the Eucharist and hands closed in final repose.  Loving hands string beads that glisten as silver, comfort as wood, and serve convenience as plastic.  Rosaries are so everywhere that they become invisible, and therein lies their power.  They become such a part of life that we may use the beads to get way beyond the beads.  As the rose petal comes with its old prayer, so the beads come wrapped in timeless Hail Marys and Our Fathers.  Together the beads and words put us in a place so familiar that the spirit is comfortable taking off to explore the life that rosaries preserve as surely as the petal preserves a whole summer. 

Each of the 20 mysteries comes like a petal, arriving as words dried into familiarity by lifelong repetition: “In the sixth month the Angel Gabriel…,” “Mary set out in haste…,” “Early in the morning on the first day of the week….”  These words preserve, in reliable form, the happenings of two millennia ago, but the Spirit breaths life into them for each generation, so that fresh scent comes from an old thing for consolation and challenge, for perseverance and promise.  When I meditate on a mystery of the rosary I remove a petal from its packet and ask the spirit to let me perceive the beauty and the aroma of the whole bush.  I read about Annunciation, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection in carefully crafted and translated Biblical language, but when I bring the moment into meditation I find it has power for me now.

First of all, each of the mysteries shows me the paradox at the root of our religion.  At the heart of the Gospel we encounter three wisps of people, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  Historically they are tiny, except that they admit us to the living vastness of God’s still-unfolding plan.  Each year Christmas captivates us with the smallness of the Infant Jesus, but also with that of Mary and Joseph.  As the wind carries a petal, so the doings of Kings and Emperors blow the Holy Family from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and from there to Egypt and back again.  History offers small people no escape from its current, and so the Holy Family is swept along by events, and we recognize in them ourselves.  But the Joy in Joyful Mysteries is how much and how effectively God cherishes what is small.  God not only watches out for these three of His little ones, He makes them integral to His plan, for He founds the salvation of the race on the righteousness of Joseph, the acceptance of Mary, and the obedience of Jesus.  Through the whole course of the twenty mysteries each of them becomes more alive, like a dried flower recovering more than its original luxuriance. 

Secondly, the Rosary holds up to me a mirror of my own life, so that I may perceive the strength in what I regard as so tenuous.  For what God accomplishes in Jesus, Mary, and Joseph He offers as an out of season freshness for me.  I might, from time to time, regard myself as dried up and knocked about, but as the beads disclose the mysteries He reveals the way forward that to a deeper life of joy, illumination, sorrow, and glory.  No adversity will rob me of the chance to found my life on a promise, to embrace the way of generosity, to rely on His power in my powerlessness, and to accept the Resurrection as the pattern for an undefended life in the present. 

So with the rose petal take up a rosary.  The petal can remind of you of last Spring and give you hope for next Spring, but the Rosary points the way to that Springtime which will yield neither to the heat of Summer, nor the cold of Winter.  Nature’s seasons buffet us, but the mysteries can connect us to the unfailing freshness God’s Word fosters even now in the human soul.
Fr. Walter