Praying Rosary at Marian Shrine, Cardinal Tells India’s Covid-19 Victims They Are Not ‘Alone’

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Cardinal Dolan, joined by priests and lay faithful, prayed the Rosary’s Sorrowful Mysteries for the people of India now suffering as Covid-19 ravages their country.

About 200 Catholics, including many natives of India, joined the cardinal in prayer at Mary Help of Christians Chapel at the Marian Shrine in Stony Point Saturday morning, May 8.

Before praying the five Sorrowful Mysteries, Cardinal Dolan reminded those gathered in the chapel that he also came to pray at the Salesian-run shrine on March 20, 2020 as the coronavirus crisis was first unfolding in New York.

“I came here to pray to Jesus through Mary, Our Lady Help of Christians, as we were getting the terrible coronavirus pandemic,” Cardinal Dolan said. “And now that we hear such desperate news from beautiful India…I thought, ‘She came through for us, and we can’t forget the great people of India.’”

“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.”

Also present was Msgr. Peter Vaccari, president of the Manhattan-based Catholic Near East Welfare Association, who told the cardinal and the congregation that he had been in touch with CNEWA associates in India in recent days.

The cardinal, who is chairman of CNEWA, explained that he had asked “our people to share in some way and be charitable” at Masses in the archdiocese the next day, “so we can entrust our offerings to Msgr. Vaccari with CNEWA.”

CNEWA, a papal agency, for more than eight decades has worked closely with India’s Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholic churches. It supports many ministries in these communities, including programs for the marginalized and services for those with special needs, children and the elderly.

Leading the decades of the Rosary were Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the archdiocese, and four priests who are natives of India now serving in the archdiocese.

They are Father Bipy Mathew Tharayil, of St. Mary Knanaya Catholic Church in Haverstraw;  Father Francis Dasari, of St. Agnes parish, Manhattan; Father Ravi K. Dasari, C.O., of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and St. John parish, Tappan, which is being renamed for St. John Henry Newman; and Father Joseph Narisetty, C.O., of St. Paul and St. Ann parish, Congers.

Father Ravi Dasari, who also serves as a chaplain at Montefiore Nyack Hospital, told CNY that “we are always connected through prayer, no matter where you are.”

Father Dasari, speaking later with CNY by phone, said he was appreciative of Cardinal Dolan’s “expression of comfort” in reaching out in prayer and “recognizing the grief and pain India is going through right now.”

According to the Associated Press, India reported 401,078 confirmed cases May 8, including a record 4,187 deaths. Overall, the nation has more than 21.8 million confirmed infections and nearly 240,000 deaths.

Jessy Justin, a native of Kerala who attended the Rosary at the Marian Shrine, told Catholic New York that shortages of oxygen, ventilators and ICU space are concerns in India.

Ms. Justin, a parishioner of St. Mary’s Knanaya Catholic Church in Haverstraw, said she has many family members in India, including cousins and friends now battling Covid-19.

“It’s very bad now, almost the same as it was in New York,” she said, referring to last spring.

Aney Chacko, a parishioner of Holy Family Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Wesley Hills, spoke to CNY in the chapel vestibule after Mass. “All of us know at least one person hit hard by Covid back home,” she said.

Mrs. Chacko, a native of Kerala, who was with her husband, Thomas, called the Rosary with Cardinal Dolan “a different level of prayer.”

“I am thankful to the archdiocese for doing this,” she said.

Cardinal Dolan, in remarks before the Rosary, told the congregation he had emailed “my three brother cardinals in India to let them know of our love, and our solidarity, and our prayers.”

“We’re in it together,” the cardinal said. “This reminds us that we’re part of the Church.”

He asked those gathered to pray to tell their relatives and friends in India who are in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, “they are not forgotten here in the Archdiocese of New York.”

“There is no better company to have than next to our Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross,” Cardinal Dolan said. “That’s what we’ve done here today with the Rosary.”

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