Ministers of Hope
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, www.healthcareministry.org. 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.