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.
“Folks, it’s an honor and a joy to be here, and I appreciate your company,” the cardinal said at the July 29 morning distribution event. “We’re here to express gratitude—gratitude to God, gratitude to this community, gratitude to the people who have helped us by their generosity in a very critical time.”
Regarding food assistance and other services, he added, “Sure, we intensified it during the Covid crisis, but we do it all the time. We are constantly feeding the hungry and housing the poor, and assisting the immigrants. We’re grateful to God who gives us the energy and grace to do it. We’re grateful to God who gives us the mercy when we fail, and we’re grateful to the many people who help us out.”
Also speaking at the gathering was Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities. “Over this time of the pandemic, the dignity of the human person was threatened in so many ways...Today we are marking the fact that since the pandemic, Catholic Charities has provided 10 millions meals in conjunction with a lot of partners who have made it possible,” he said. “Goya is one of them. But our elected officials, city and state government, also have been partners.”
Rafael Toro, director of public relations for Goya Foods, announced Goya’s donation of 300,000 pounds of food to support Catholic Charities of New York’s network of programs to help combat hunger and food insecurity. “We love Catholic Charities; we love the relationship we have with them. We are so grateful that we can work with them,” Toro said. Goya has been a longtime lead partner of Catholic Charities in providing food for poor families.
After remarks from speakers, Cardinal Dolan joined Catholic Charities staffers and volunteers in distributing 300 bags of shelf-stable groceries, one bag per household. Moreover, Pfizer vaccinations were provided onsite, available to persons age 12 and above; nearly 50 received vaccinations. Staffers from Bronx Rising and VIP Community Services, alongside Catholic Charities personnel, provided $50 incentives per dose of the vaccine.
Carmen Milagros Santiago, a parishioner of Sacred Heart, was among those in line for donated groceries. Speaking with CNY, she expressed her gratitude to the Catholic Charities staffers, volunteers and donors who make the assistance possible. “During this time of the pandemic, there is a lot of need,” she said.Ms. Santiago is a mother of three; she is also a grandmother and great-grandmother.
Another parishioner in line was Thelma Polonia. “I appreciate it very much. I am thankful to the Church,” Ms. Polonia told CNY of the importance of the food donations to her family.
Throughout the pandemic, Catholic Charities of New York has utilized pop-up pantries to facilitate access to a range of services and support, including health care, housing and immigrant rights—and since last winter, access to coronavirus vaccinations.
Speakers at the Catholic Charities gathering included state Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, whose 77th district includes the Highbridge section of the borough. Father Joseph Franco, former pastor of Sacred Heart, administered a blessing; he is now pastor of Our Lady of Angels in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx.
Sacred Heart School is located on Nelson Avenue near 168th Street in Highbridge; it is behind the church, which is on Shakespeare Avenue.