Cardinal Dolan hit the right tone with his visit to the Marian Shrine in Stony Point earlier this month to lead a Rosary prayer service for the Covid-stricken people of India.
Praying the five Sorrowful Mysteries at the shrine’s Mary Help of Christians chapel, the cardinal’s message was clear: India may be halfway around the world from the Archdiocese of New York, but it’s our neighbor in the Church community.
And while Christianity is a minority faith in India, it nevertheless is a vigorous presence in that country’s life and among Indian-Americans here.
“We are blessed with so many people in our Catholic family who come from India,” the cardinal said. “We can’t forget them. They are not alone.”
The cardinal reminded the congregation of some 200 that he had led prayers at the same site just 14 months before, when “the terrible coronavirus pandemic” was advancing in New York. “I came here to pray to Jesus, through Mary, Our Lady Help of Christians,” he said.
He also urged New York’s Catholics to donate to the emergency pandemic relief campaign launched by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) to help India’s local churches respond to the escalating crisis.
“We cannot watch this catastrophe unfold and not share the heartbreak and feel the need to help,” said CNEWA’s president, Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari.
CNEWA, a papal agency, has worked closely with India's Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches for more than eight decades.
Pope Francis, too, is asking Catholics around the world to turn to Mary in prayer for an end to the pandemic, calling for a global prayer marathon for the entire month of May—a month traditionally dedicated to Mary—with a service livestreamed each day at one of 30 Marian shrines around the world.
The pope opened the monthlong prayer series May 1 at St. Peter’s Basilica with an invocation from a prayer he wrote last year that included a plea to “turn your merciful eyes toward us amid this coronavirus pandemic.”
“Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply.”
Though our life circumstances here in New York are different, we know too well the fear, suffering and desperation that’s unleashed when the virus is rampant. We know that India needs all the help it can get right now, both materially and spiritually.
As people of faith, prayer is one of the most important things we can offer for the suffering people of India and others around the world who are struggling with the pandemic.
That’s one of the things we do best.
We also urge all of you considering helping with a tax-deductible donation to the CNEWA emergency fund to do so at www.cnewa.org/india; by phone at 800-442-6392; or by mail, CNEWA, 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022-4195.
The funds will help CNEWA’s partners in India distribute personal protective equipment, medical care, food packets and vaccines.
The people of India need help, just as we did not that long ago.