Cardinal Dolan celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass at St. Thomas of Canterbury Church in Cornwall-on-Hudson June 9 with about 650 parishioners who were excited about his visit and the parish name change.
St. Thomas of Canterbury-St. Joseph parish is waiting for the decree to arrive with final approval for the name change to St. Marianne Cope parish.
“It was a wonderful experience for the parish,” said Father Rees Doughty, pastor, of the cardinal’s visit. “I could tell it was a wonderful experience for him as well. There was a real connection there.
“I think the new name along with the past history is going to be a wonderful preparation for the future of our parish. It’s going to be more vibrant.”
Combined parishes were offered the opportunity to come up with a new parish name following the merging of parishes as part of the archdiocese’s Making All Things New pastoral planning initiative. St. Marianne Cope was one of the names submitted to Cardinal Dolan for approval by the St. Thomas of Canterbury-St. Joseph parish.
“When I went down for my 25th anniversary (in May), I handed him the letter,” Father Doughty said. “He called me a week later and said he was very happy and agreed to the name change. He said he was hoping one of the merged parishes would choose Marianne Cope. Then he said, ‘I’ll come down on Pentecost Sunday.’”
St. Marianne Cope was raised in upstate New York and entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse in 1862. She became the congregation’s superior and made the decision to depart for Hawaii with Sisters of St. Francis to care for people suffering from leprosy. She died of natural causes in 1918 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
“Of all the many duties that I have as your archbishop, this is the one I most enjoy, to be with you, God’s people, for Sunday Mass,” said Cardinal Dolan in his homily. “This gives me a chance to let you know how much I love you as your archbishop, how proud I am to be your archbishop and how very grateful I am to you for your love to Jesus and His Church.
“My gratitude for all of you has recently been enhanced in the experimentally mature way you handled what can be tough, the tough transition, the merging of two parishes. You especially showed that maturity and realism when you said let’s have two sites, St. Thomas of Canterbury and St. Joseph, under one patron to indicate fresh start and new beginning.”
Closing his homily, Cardinal Dolan shared on Pentecost Sunday a prayer Cardinal John O’Connor said each morning to the Holy Spirit.
St. John Paul II “said Cardinal O’Connor told us every morning the first thing he does as he gets out of bed is make the sign of the cross and say, ‘Holy Spirit, please don’t let me get in your way today.’ Is that a beautiful prayer? Come Holy Spirit. It worked for the apostles, worked for Marianne Cope and it’s working in this parish dedicated to her,” Cardinal Dolan said.
Eric Lundgren, 43, said the parish was blessed with Cardinal Dolan’s visit and supports St. Marianne Cope as the parish name.
“St. Marianne Cope is just an inspiration to us as is the cardinal and this parish,” he said. “I got to know her story the last few months. It’s inspirational, and she’s from New York. How she ministered to those in need, it’s what Christ missioned to his flock after he ascended.”
Colette Fulton, 82, attended the reception following Mass in the school gymnasium where Cardinal Dolan met and posed for photos with parishioners.
“It was very special,” said Ms. Fulton of the cardinal’s visit. “He’s an outgoing, friendly and likeable person.”