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Cardinal Honors Jubilee of Piarist Fathers at Mass
By ARMANDO MACHADO
Chris Sheridan
Cardinal Dolan celebrates Mass at Annunciation Church marking the 400th anniversary of the Piarist Fathers, the religious congregation that runs the Manhattan parish. Concelebrants include Father Baltazar Sanchez, Sch.P., pastor, left, and Father Fernando Negro, Sch.P., provincial, right. The Mass was offered March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Antonia Guzman, a longtime parishioner at Annunciation Church, proudly volunteered her time before, during and after the Solemnity of the Annunciation Mass to help everything run smoothly. The special noon Mass at the Manhattan church, 88 Convent Ave. (at West 131st Street) occurred on the March 25 feast day.

Cardinal Dolan was the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass, conducted in Spanish and English.

“This is a very important occasion for us,” Mrs. Guzman, a married mother of three, told CNY before the Mass.

“We’re going to have the cardinal here—this is a great pleasure; we are very content, very proud and happy.”

Mrs. Guzman, 51, was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She and others expressed great joy with the parish community and with the clergy who lead them in their spiritual journey evident in the efficiency and visible sense of commitment with which organizers and volunteers carried out their duties.

In addition to the feast day, the Mass marked the 400th anniversary of the Piarist Fathers. In remarks at the start of Mass, Cardinal Dolan said, “It is a joy and an honor to be here today with you…Thank you for your invitation and your warm welcome for this happy feast.” 

During his homily, the cardinal acknowledged the dual celebration more extensively, noting the good works of the Piarist Fathers, past and present. And he spoke of the beauty of diversity within the Latino communities and among all communities, noting, “Here we are all children of God; here we are all children of Mary.”

Cardinal Dolan, after the Prayer of the Faithful, asked for the intercession of the Blessed Mother, St. Gabriel the Archangel and St. Joseph Calasanz, “for these and all of our needs.” And he acknowledged the presence of several sisters from St. Teresa of Kolkata’s Missionaries of Charity.

About 700 people attended the Mass, with many, including the cardinal, staying for a post-Mass luncheon gathering in the social hall below the sanctuary.

The Piarist Fathers order was founded on March 6, 1617. On March 25 of that year, Joseph Calasanz and 14 other priests became the first members of the new community when they received the religious habit.

The pastor of Annunciation, Father Baltazar Sanchez, Sch.P., and two other Piarist Fathers, Father Jose Clavero, Sch.P., and Father Felix Ganuza, Sch.P., serve at the church.

The Piarist Fathers also run St. Helena’s parish in the Bronx.

Staff and volunteers prepared for the anniversary with a novena of Masses and prayers that ended March 24. The Annunciation community is home to large numbers of parishioners from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Ecuador, Father Sanchez told CNY.

Father Sanchez and others expressed words of gratitude to the cardinal, acknowledging support from the archdiocese. Attending was Wanda Vasquez, director of the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry. Father Lorenzo Ato, archdiocesan director of Hispanic communications/pastoral ministries, was among the dozen concelebrants.

Also attending the Mass was Miguel Angel Manrique, 35, a parishioner of Annunciation who had emigrated from Mexico as a teenager.

“This is a great blessing,” said Manrique, noting the presence of the cardinal, in an interview before Mass.

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