Cardinal Speaks to Young Adults About Repentance, Conversion of Heart


Genevieve Feiler was one of about 1,000 people at the Young Adult Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral March 4 who received a Lenten message from Cardinal Dolan on repentance and conversion of heart.

“It’s a great Lenten message about conversion of heart which I think is the essence of what Lent is supposed to be,” Miss Feiler, a 26 year old who attends Mass at St. Joseph-Greenwich Village, told CNY.

“When we received our ashes last week, (the priest) said repent and believe in the Gospel, which is a complete representation of the conversion of heart to come back to the Lord, especially for some people to be the light that brings people back to Christ,” she said.

Cardinal Dolan focused on repentance and conversion in his homily following a reading from Jonah and the Gospel from Luke.

“Repentance means we turn away from sin. We admit them,” the cardinal said. “We tell the Lord we’re sorry and we ask for his mercy and his grace to do better.”

“Conversion of heart means we turn away from anything that keeps us from fully embracing Jesus.

“So did you notice this conversion of heart and repentance is always a two-step dance because we are always turning towards someone, mainly our Lord and Savior. There’s the first step. Second step, we’re always turning away from sin, whatever keeps us from an undiluted love of and faith in Jesus.”

Cardinal Dolan reflected back on the five Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary that St. John Paul II instituted. The cardinal emphasized the third Luminous mystery—the proclamation of the kingdom of God and the call to conversion.

“The saint figured that summarizes the teaching of Jesus, the preaching of the kingdom and the call to conversion,” Cardinal Dolan said. “That is at the core of the Bible, the Jewish scriptures and the Christian scriptures.”

Cardinal Dolan concluded his homily by recalling his visit on Ash Wednesday to Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining where he spoke with a prisoner, who was jailed for a second time, likely for the rest of his life.

The prisoner faced the choice of being angry, depressed or turning to drugs, or making good choices and turning from that. He chose the latter by staying sober for six years, with a job in the prison chapel and working toward a degree through a college program.

“That man knew what repentance and conversion of heart means. Jonah knew, Jesus knows, we know and that’s what Lent is all about,” Cardinal Dolan said.

Young adults began arriving an hour before the start of Mass for Eucharistic adoration with prayer led by Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general for the archdiocese; confession; reciting of the rosary led by Colin Nykaza, director of the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult Outreach; and music from Danielle Rose, a singer and musician.

The Mass ended with the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. In the closing procession, Cardinal Dolan greeted young adults before leading a group of young adults to a missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of only four like it in the world. A social followed Mass at Haswell Green’s.

“The young adults love Cardinal Dolan, and he loves them,” Nykaza said. “This Mass is always a great opportunity for young adults to encounter Jesus in a powerful way and to help them enter deeper into Lent. I hope the young adults encounter Jesus’ unconditional love for them and that they are not alone in the struggles they are going through.”

Caterine Sanchez is originally from Pennsylvania and now works in the fashion industry in Manhattan. She said she enjoys attending the young adult Masses, adding, “for me, the Catholic community is like a family,”

Ms. Sanchez, 33, who attends Mass at St. Malachy’s in Manhattan, said she’s given up watching television and movies for Lent and accepted God’s invitation to “deeper relationships and really building up a spiritual family.”

“Lent is a time of preparation and remembering, just becoming excited for just remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection, and then the new life,” she said.

Joe Muir, 37, lives in Passaic, N.J., where he works at St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral of the Byzantine Catholic rite. He volunteered to distribute Mass programs before Mass. “It’s good to see this many young people together celebrating the faith, especially during Lent. It’s nice to connect with other Catholics,” he said.

Miss Feiler said she was looking for a community when she first moved to New York from Florida 11 months ago.

“One of the first events I went to when I moved here was a young adult Mass,” she said. “It’s extraordinary to see young adults come here every month to celebrate Mass, people you have never met and people you have met, build community and be representation for what a loving Christ is.

“I’m so blessed by this community.”


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