The liturgical cycle seems to give gifts and challenges appropriate to each year. This year’s consolation took the form of a wonderfully long Advent, and a Sunday Christmas. A second gift comes in a long liturgical winter, the quiet days between the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. Lent does not begin until March 1, which affords time to sit down in the back room for another round of behind-the-scenes work.
We need to get cozy with plans for the governance of the Parish. Governance refers to those structures by which the Pastor and his staff hold themselves accountable and also receive feedback and advice. Our former
parishes of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena differed in their patterns of governance, and we can take that divergence as a chance to benefit from two sets of insights. I will be meeting with a number of committed parishioners to apply the Canon Law of the Universal Church and Archdiocesan Law to our situation.
When this process is done we will be able to delineate for you the duties of the Parish Trustees, the Finance Council, the Pastoral Council, and the various committees of the Parish. Our year and a half of experience as a parish will, I hope, enhance the effectiveness of our work.
I will update you in these pages as this plan takes place.
We have mental and emotional space to focus on this work, because at this time finances do not cause worry. This peace of mind is thanks to you. As of this writing our Christmas and end-of-year donations look to total about $210,000.00. The hidden good news here is that we received this amount even without some of
extraordinary gifts that came our way last year.
For this support I cannot express enough my gratitude and that of those I work with.
In recent weeks we have taken time to assess our first Christmas with a unified music program and schedule of services. We registered a great response to the times of Mass and confessions. We also had very appreciative
comments about the music for Christmas and associated days. In particular, the service of Lessons and Carols in honor of the Blessed Virgin on December 7, and the service of Advent Lessons and Carols on December 17
garnered high praise of content and execution.
If we could do it over again we would have been louder and clearer about the nature of the Dominican Rite Mass at Midnight. We caught some people unaware and were certainly sorry to do that.
Another Christmas success came in the form of our Christmas Fair. In addition to being beautifully
decorated and arranged, the fair was excellent community time. For all of this, let me thank the many parishioners who frequented the Fair, both to work and to shop. On an encouraging note the Christmas Fair continues to grow as a parish fundraiser. In 2014 it raised about $4,000, in 2015 about $6,000, and this year about $8,000.
Alongside the fair were drives for women’s clothing for the Park Avenue Shelter, and Toys for the New York Common Pantry. These also yielded excellent results and the generosity of those who work and those who give surely preaches the Gospel.
Two events will punctuate the Winter weeks ahead. First, on Thursday, February 2, we will celebrate the beautiful feast of the Presentation. At a bleak turn of the year we light candles on this day and present ourselves in faith. The act of making oneself available to God challenges lethargy and lightens one’s steps toward this spring and the eternal spring. We will celebrate the Feast with a Solemn Mass at St. Catherine’s at 6:30 PM. Just to jog
memories, those who were at the Mass last year found it to be wonderfully beautiful.
Later in the Month, Saturday, February 25 will bring us to the annual Mardi Gras Party, to be held at
St. Catherine’s after the 4 PM Mass. Details will follow, but please save room for a repetition of last year’s elegant and fun interlude before Lent.
You will find a new Friar on the roster of celebrants and preachers. Please welcome Fr. Thomas More Garrett, O.P. to our Parish. Fr. Thomas More is a classmate of Fr. Innocent and Fr. John Devaney. A lawyer by training, he will be assisting Fr. Gabriel Gillen in the work of the Dominican Foundation. I have no doubt that we will all benefit by his presence.
Finally, we want to mourn the loss of Fr. Thaddeus Murphy, O.P. who ministered for many years at
St. Catherine of Siena Priory and Parish. Fr. Thaddeus served in all the ministries of the parish and the hospital
chaplaincy, but he was especially devoted to the apostolate of prayer, and founded the Queen of Peace Prayer Group which still meets at St. Catherine’s each Saturday morning. What a marvelous tribute that members of the parish travelled all the way to Columbus, Ohio for the funeral! May he rest in peace.
May your winter be swift.