A contingent of young adult Catholics gathered for Mass and to share communion and camaraderie among one another Friday evening of Labor Day weekend at Most Holy Redeemer Church in Manhattan’s East Village.
The Sept. 4 gathering was the inaugural event of Goretti Group New York at Most Holy Redeemer, geared to those aged 18-42, singles or married. The first Manhattan chapter at Most Holy Redeemer will continue to meet on the first Friday of each month there.
Paul Wessel, 24, a missionary with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) at Columbia University, was among the attendees.
He told CNY the Goretti Group’s first Friday gatherings will “certainly be something to invite them to come down to,” referring to the Columbia students.
Getting the young men and women of the university connected with the Catholic community in the archdiocese is important, particularly for those who remain in the city after graduation, he added.
The timing, over Labor Day weekend, was personally helpful for Wessel as he prayerfully prepared for the students he will continue to serve through FOCUS. He described Most Holy Redeemer as “a beautiful church.”
Most Holy Redeemer Church is located at 173 E. Third St., between Avenues A and B. Father William Elder serves as pastor of Most Holy Redeemer-Nativity parish.
Father Jeffry Dillon, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, served as celebrant and homilist of the 7 p.m. Mass Sept. 4. A survivor of clerical sexual abuse as a child, Father Dillon was the featured speaker of the evening’s talk, which included a question-and-answer session.
An NYPD police officer from 1967 to 1975, he was ordained a priest in 1981 and is presently the pastor of Our Lady of Light parish in St. Albans, Queens.
Father Dillon, in his talk, said, “For all those people in the pews who have not experienced sexual abuse, they’re victims also, they’re survivors also. They also have to deal with this. And they have a right to answers.”
While recognizing these realities, he said he was not condemning the Church.
Throughout the talk, Father Dillon quelled common misperceptions about victims of abuse. “Most victims,” he said, “don’t come forward because they don’t want to relive the pain.”
He recalled that when he first told his story to someone, the response was: “When did it happen? How did it happen? Where did it happen?”
To that line of questioning, Father Dillon shared that he replied: “Who cares? It happened.”
Healing happens when listening begins, Father Dillon also said. “When we’re incapable of listening, we in essence shut the door to the person who is speaking to us.”
An examination of Scripture, Father Dillon said, shows that “Jesus never assumes to act in somebody’s life. He says to the person, ‘What is it that you would like me to do for you?’” Jesus then honors the individual by assuring, “‘If I can, I will do what you’re asking me to do.’”
Father Dillon, concluding his talk, said, “May we have the courage to do that to the people who come to us and want to and need to tell their stories.”
The Goretti Group gathering began at 6:30 p.m. with praise and worship music provided by Frassati Music Ministry. The sacrament of reconciliation was available through Father Elder. After Mass, the congregation had an opportunity to venerate a first-class relic of St. Maria Goretti. A break for refreshments followed, and the evening concluded after Father Dillon’s talk and two additional hymns were sung.
Regarding the debut at Most Holy Redeemer, “we’re very pleased,” Deborah Sucich, the Goretti Group’s New York Chapter coordinator, told CNY. Asked about the significance of venerating a relic of the group’s namesake, Ms. Sucich said: “We’re in communion with the saints in heaven. St. Maria Goretti is not just the patron of youth, she’s also the little saint of mercy. We know that we’re living in a world right now that is in great need of mercy.”
The group strives to share St. Maria Goretti’s “message of chastity,” Ms. Sucich said, “in a very compassionate way.”