2021 - The Year in Review

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ACROSS THE ARCHDIOCESE 

January

  • Church bells from Staten Island to Saugerties—and beyond—pealed at noon Dec. 30 to remember and honor the more than 341,000 people who died in the United States from Covid-19 to that point last year.
  • In the overnight hours of New Year’s Day, the front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral was again marred by graffiti for the second time in recent months. This time, the scrawling on the cathedral’s Fifth Avenue facade near 51st Street featured the lettering ACAB over a 2-foot by 4-foot area. The acronym was intended as a slur against police officers.
  • As Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen approached St. Peter’s Church in lower Manhattan to celebrate an early afternoon Mass to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Jan. 4, he contemplated the silence of the surrounding streets.
  • Brianna Caliri and Joshua Bunch are inspired each day they step into the Father Vincent Capodanno Catholic Academy on Staten Island where Cardinal Dolan led a Jan. 21 ribbon-cutting dedication and blessing of a statue of the Maryknoll priest who was killed while serving as a battlefield chaplain in the Vietnam War.
  • Cardinal Dolan, presiding at the Prayer Vigil for Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Jan. 22, said, “The Lord beams over the first, most sacred and sublime of His lavish gifts to us, the gift of life.”

February

  • The annual Rites of Election and Continuing Conversion in the archdiocese was celebrated in parishes on the First Sunday of Lent, Feb. 21. As of Feb. 8, there were 140 catechumens representing 52 parishes preparing to enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil April 3. There were also 380 candidates from 52 parishes in formation for entry into full communion with the Church.
  • ArchCare has received support for initiatives taken to protect care members and the people they serve during the Covid-19 pandemic, and ArchCare’s president and CEO Scott LaRue said what’s given him the greatest sense of gratitude is the can-do spirit of teamwork.
  • The Contemplative Nuns of the Order of St. Basil the Great, who have resided at Sacred Heart Monastery in Middletown since 1992, plan to relocate to Jenkintown, Pa., in April.

March

  • The 2021 Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal is under way as parishes work toward exceeding their individual goals as they help the archdiocese to move toward its $21 million overall goal.
  • The archdiocesan schools’ Child Nutrition Program adopted an initiative for the 2020-2021 year to assure students would be provided breakfast and lunch each school day whether they were learning in school or remotely at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • John F. Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School in Somers became the first varsity football program in the archdiocese to compete in a 2021 game as it defeated St. Dominic High School of Oyster Bay, 34-0, March 12.
  • Cardinal Dolan consecrated the archdiocese to the foster father of Jesus and the chaste spouse of Mary on the saint’s feast, March 19, after the 7 a.m. Mass he celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Pope Francis promulgated the Year of St. Joseph, which began Dec. 8 and coincides with the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s designation as patron of the universal Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio announced March 25 that one of the three new Staten Island ferry boats transporting people between Staten Island and lower Manhattan will be named for Catholic Worker Movement co-founder Dorothy Day, whose sainthood cause is being considered by the Vatican.

April

  • Pope Francis April 7 accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop John J. O’Hara, who has served as vicar for pastoral planning and vicar for Staten Island. The bishop had submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday, Feb. 7, as required by canon law.
  • Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York will be reimbursed by the City of New York for the cost of Covid-19 testing services under an agreement reached April 15. 

May

  • The archdiocesan Family Life Office has launched a Convalidation Awareness Campaign to bring civilly married Catholics couples home to be married in the Church.
  • Shortly before Cardinal Dolan ordained 10 men to the priesthood at St. Patrick’s Cathedral May 29, he began his homily with three Latin words “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia,” meaning “Rejoice Mother Church.” Six were ordained for the Archdiocese of New York, four for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
  • Eileen Mulcahy, who has served as director of pastoral planning for the archdiocese since 2014, has been appointed vice chancellor for parish planning by Cardinal Dolan.
  • An initial installment of assistance totaling $75,000 to India from parishes in the Archdiocese of New York was directed to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association for quick distribution to the country being ravaged by Covid-19.

June

  • Seven men were ordained as permanent deacons for the archdiocese June 19 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Mass of Ordination was celebrated by Cardinal Dolan, who also served as homilist.

July

  • The Archdiocese of New York has launched a Come Home to Mass campaign to encourage Catholics to return for weekend Mass in parish churches as the Covid-19 crisis recedes.
  • Gerald “Jerry” M. Costello, the founding editor of Catholic New York—whose writing informed readers about Catholic news for more than 60 years—died July 19. He was 90.

August

  • ArchCare this week announced the establishment of the Center for Advanced Memory Care at Archcare at Ferncliff Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Rhinebeck. Designed to enhance independence and quality of life with a patient-centered approach, the center was scheduled to open in late 2021.
  • On the grounds of Sacred Heart School in the Bronx, Cardinal Dolan joined archdiocesan Catholic Charities staffers and volunteers in marking the distribution of 10 million meals by the agency since the coronavirus pandemic began.
  • Six Sisters of Life professed final vows at an Aug. 6 Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • As New York state plans for the upcoming academic year, Catholic schools in the archdiocese are preparing for a full, in-person opening with no remote or hybrid learning.

September

  • Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., the longtime director of the archdiocesan Catechetical Office, has been named vicar for religious for the Archdiocese of New York, effective Sept. 1.
  • Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass to begin the 125th anniversary year of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie Sept. 16.
  • Cardinal Dolan said he couldn’t think of “a better place to be” than St. Patrick’s Cathedral “on this somber anniversary” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He offered a morning Mass Sept. 11 at the cathedral  for members of the FDNY and families of firefighters who perished 20 years ago on 9/11.
  • Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador served as principal celebrant and homilist of a well-attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Sept. 19, marking the bicentennial of five Central American nations. On Sept. 15, 1821, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua declared their independence from Spain.
  • Catholic New York celebrated an anniversary of its own on Sept. 27, as the archdiocesan newspaper marked 40 years of publishing history since its founding by Cardinal Terence Cooke in 1981. 

October

  • The Archdiocese of New York is embarking on a major youth suicide prevention initiative beginning during Respect Life Month in October. The archdiocese’s outreach was initiated early this year at the personal direction of Cardinal Dolan.
  • On Oct. 1, Cardinal Dolan issued a decree reorganizing the deaneries in the Archdiocese of New York and reducing their number from 19 to 12.
  • Cardinal Dolan, along with diocesan bishops across the universal Church, opened the Archdiocese of New York’s diocesan phase of a synod Oct. 17, beginning a process of “preparation and prayer,” at the request of Pope Francis, in anticipation of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023.
  • When Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza said he was going to tell “my story,” the nearly 400 Catholic men attending the first ManUp New York conference at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie Oct. 23 could have been excused if their first thought was of a game-winning home run. But  Piazza was giving a personal testimony of his Catholic faith, in and out of baseball.
  • Father George Sears, administrator of Holy Name of Jesus-St. Gregory the Great parish Manhattan, has also been named director of vocations for the archdiocese. Cardinal Dolan has also appointed 15 regional vocation promoters who will work with Father Sears to bolster vocations in the archdiocese while also remaining in their current assignments. The cardinal commissioned the priests into vocations service at a luncheon Oct. 28 at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie.
  • Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, said the celebration of the 76th annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner was “a testament to the resilience of Americans, particularly New Yorkers, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.” She said she was honored to serve as keynote speaker of the Smith dinner, held Oct. 21 at the Javits Center Expansion in Manhattan.
  • William “Bill” Biddle is the new executive director of the  Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in lower Manhattan.

November

  • Brother Tyrone Davis, C.F.C., executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Black Ministry, was one of 11 new commissioners appointed by the Middle States Association Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools.
  • Archbishop Charles Brown, a New Yorker ordained for the archdiocese in 1989 who is now apostolic nuncio for the Philippines, celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown Oct. 23 to mark the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.
  • Parishioners and others filling St. Rita of Cascia Church in the South Bronx lived out the words they heard Pope Francis preach that morning for the universal Church’s fifth World Day of the Poor. The congregation at St. Rita heard Pope Francis deliver his Nov. 14 video message in Spanish for the World Day of the Poor, and then again when Father Pablo Gonzalez, pastor of Rita and St. Pius V parish in the Bronx, delivered the pope’s remarks in English. At St. Rita, the World Day of the Poor was commemorated with spiritual activities Nov. 13-14 in which the poor were invited to the church and held up as models through their personal testimonies of faith.
  • Afghan nationals seeking refuge on American soil are finding respite through archdiocesan Catholic Charities. New York state officials anticipate more than 1,100 Afghan nationals will resettle in the state, with 240 individuals relocating to the New York City area by March, according to Catholic Charities.
  • Cardinal Dolan has appointed Father Enrique F. Salvo as the new rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The appointment was effective Nov. 15. He succeeds Msgr. Robert T. Ritchie, who has retired after serving as rector since 2006. Father Salvo was most recently pastor of St. Anselm and St. Roch parish in the Bronx, and dean of Bronx West.
  • Frank Napolitano, who has held leadership positions of increasing responsibility in the archdiocese, has been named to the newly created position of chief administrative officer of the archdiocese, effective Nov. 19.

December

  • Acting on concerns over human rights, archdiocesan Catholic Charities is participating in a pilot program to assist asylum seekers from the U.S. Southern border with social, legal and case management services that will complement their arrival in New York. The program is called “The Border Is Everywhere.”
  • Cardinal Dolan stamped wax affixed to a red ribbon atop a plain brown box in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sealing the last of 17 such boxes aligned in the sanctuary during a Mass commemorating the Conclusion of the Diocesan Phase of the Canonization Cause for Dorothy Day. The cause for Servant of God Dorothy Day, a social justice advocate and native New Yorker who co-founded and led the Catholic Worker for 47 years, is advancing to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The cardinal served as principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass.



AROUND THE WORLD

January

  • Supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, putting the building on lockdown and interrupting the count of electoral votes to certify the 2020 election, capping the last days of a tumultuous presidency with chaos. Pope Francis offered prayers for the people of the United States “shaken by the recent siege on Congress” and prayed for the five people who lost their lives “in those dramatic moments” when protesters stormed the Capitol.
  • Recognizing “the gifts of each baptized person”—women and men—Pope Francis ordered a change to canon law and liturgical norms so that women could be formally installed as lectors and acolytes. 
  • In his inaugural address Jan. 20, President Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, said he is committed with his “whole soul” to bring this country together. He pleaded with Americans—having come through a bitter election, a time of racial reckoning and still in the midst of a deadly pandemic—to similarly take up this cause.
  • The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee called it “deeply disturbing and tragic” that any U.S. president would mark the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Roe decision that legalized abortion by praising it and committing to codifying it in law.
  • It was the coldest national March for Life in some years, it was the smallest, and it also may be remembered as the bravest. A little more than 200 people endured subfreezing temperatures and wind at the 48th annual march in Washington, D.C., a continuing protest of the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. The march was already hampered by Covid-19 pandemic restrictions as a virtual event was announced and people were told to stay home and participate in smaller local marches. 

February

  • Xavier Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart will not be the first woman undersecretary of a major Vatican office, but she will be the first woman with a right to vote at a meeting of the Synod of Bishops. Pope Francis named the French sister one of two undersecretaries of the Synod of Bishops Feb. 6. 

March

  • Pope Francis summarized his “pilgrimage of faith and penitence” to Iraq in prayer. The Holy Father’s March 5-8 visit to Iraq was a first to the country for a pontiff.
  • In a new video, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine cited an earlier Vatican statement that “has made clear that all the Covid vaccines recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience.”
  • The Catholic Church cannot claim to safeguard marriage and family life if it simply repeats its traditional teaching without supporting, encouraging and caring for real families, especially when they struggle to live up to that teaching, Pope Francis said March 19 in a message to a Rome conference that kicked off celebrations of the “Amoris Laetitia Family Year,” which will conclude June 26, 2022, at the World Meeting of Families in Rome.
  • The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act may bring federal aid to the 175 Catholic schools in the archdiocese, thanks to work done by Cardinal Dolan and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.-N.Y., the Senate majority leader.

April

  • The number of Catholics and permanent deacons in the world has shown steady growth, while the number of religious men and women continued to decrease, according to Vatican statistics.

May

  • Calling for formal recognition of “those lay men and women who feel called by virtue of their baptism to cooperate in the work of catechesis, Pope Francis has instituted the “ministry of catechist.”

June

  • As a consequence of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling June 17 in Fulton v. Philadelphia, faith-based and other agencies across the country may not be forced by a government agency to violate their deeply held beliefs against placing children in households led by same-sex or cohabiting couples.

July

  • Older people are not “leftovers” to be discarded; rather, they continue to be precious nourishment for families, young people and communities, Pope Francis said in the homily he wrote for the Mass marking the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly July 25.

August

  • The New York State Catholic Conference in an Aug. 10 tweet urged Catholics to join Cardinal Dolan, conference president, and the state’s other Catholic bishops in praying for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul as she prepares to succeed Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced his resignation the same day.

September

  • On Sept. 1, the Supreme Court ruled against blocking a Texas law banning abortions at six weeks of pregnancy.

October

  • Pope Francis has signed a decree recognizing the miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul I, clearing the way for his beatification.
  • Pope Francis and President Joe Biden had an unusually long meeting at the Vatican Oct. 29, talking about the climate crisis and poverty, among other issues.
  • The chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life and religious liberty committees urged U.S. Senate leaders Oct. 22 to include the Hyde and Weldon amendments and “other long-standing, bipartisan pro-life provisions” in appropriations bills being advanced in the chamber.

November

  • The U.S. bishops, gathering for the first time in person since 2019, discussed the highly anticipated statement on the Eucharist without the heated discussion it stirred up in their previous meeting. They also looked at diocesan financial reporting and considered new socially responsible investment guidelines at the fall general assembly Nov. 15-18 in Baltimore.

December

  • When the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dec. 1 for the biggest abortion case in decades, all eyes—and ears—were on the court. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is an appeal from Mississippi to keep its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

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