Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cardinal Dolan Celebrates Don Bosco's Feast in Port Chester

Cardinal Dolan Celebrates
Don Bosco’s Feast in Port Chester

New York’s archbishop, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has made no secret of his devotion to St. John Bosco, going back to the inspiration of his teacher Sr. Mary Bosco in second grade. His enthusiasm was on full display for Don Bosco’s feast day at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Port Chester at a special Friday evening Mass (Jan. 31), and the blessing of renovations and improvements made in the Don Bosco Community Center particularly for young people.
Cardinal Dolan, flanked by Fr. Tom Dunne and Fr. Tim Zak, pastor.
Statue of Don Bosco is seen in the background.
Holy Rosary Church was packed for the Mass with about 450 people (Fr. Rich Alejunas’s estimate), well beyond its normal seating capacity of 350.

Cardinal Dolan presided and preached; our provincial, Fr. Tom Dunne, and another 15 priests concelebrated, including SDBs from Port Chester, New Rochelle, and Haverstraw; Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, director of Catholic Charities of the archdiocese; Msgr. Edward O’Donnell from Resurrection Parish in Rye; Fr. Marty Biglin, vicar forane for South Shore Westchester and our local pastor in New Rochelle. In the congregation were FMAs from Port Chester and Sr. Karen Dunn, their provincial; SDB brothers; several hundred parishioners; and Port Chester Mayor Neil Pagano and Village Trustee Gene Ceccarelli.

In tribute to the parish’s ethnic make-up, readings were done in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. The cardinal offered to preach in Italian in honor of Don Bosco, adding that he (the cardinal) likes to eat Italian. But he stuck to English, except for “Viva Don Bosco!”

A handful of talented young musicians in the choir loft rocked the congregation with Spanish hymns and liturgical texts. They had the whole congregation and the clergy, too, clapping along with them.

Cardinal Dolan began his homily by remarking on his happiness to be at Holy Rosary and on the wonderful things he’s heard about the parish. He briefly summarized Don Bosco’s apostolic undertakings, then said, “Don Bosco started a revolution in Europe in his way of caring for the young.” He thanked the Salesians—priests, brothers, and sisters—for carrying on Don Bosco’s work, and the donors who help them do so.

After mentioning some of the dangers to young people that Don Bosco contended with, such as lack of education, unemployment, trafficking and other forms of exploitation, and idleness, the cardinal asked, “Sounds pretty contemporary, doesn’t it?” Don Bosco, he said, was dealing with what Pope Francis has called a “throwaway culture,” which disposes of people it rates as undesirable (the unborn, the handicapped, immigrants, the elderly, et al.). But the Church is at its best, the cardinal maintains, when it cares for these people, like Don Bosco.

Don Bosco, the cardinal explained, taught us to see Jesus in three ways: in the arms of his Mother, the Help of Christians; in the Holy Eucharist; and in the Holy Father. The cardinal added a fourth way: in the poor. Don Bosco, he said, understood that “nobody is trash.”

He concluded by saying, “We need St. John Bosco more than ever today!”

The cardinal gave the Mass’s final blessing holding a small reliquary of the Don Bosco, just as he did at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the pilgrimage visit of the saint’s relic (in that case using a relic that Fr. Provincial had just given him as a gift).

After Mass the cardinal and most of the congregation walked next door to the Don Bosco Community Center, where the cardinal blessed a plaque in the main lobby honoring the Niehaus Family Legacy Endowment. Bob and Kate Niehaus established a $1 million endowment to benefit Salesian youth ministry at the DBCC for years to come.

Down the long third-floor hallway en route to the new computer media center, the cardinal was greeted by nearly 100 kids and staff from the youth center, and their families. He blessed the new Cashin-Niehaus Computer Media Center for education and career development. Dick Cashin gifted the DBCC with $250,000 for building renovations and new youth programs. Mr. Cashin and his mother Mary, and Bob and Kate Niehaus were all present at the Mass and dedications.

The entire celebration was covered by Westchester’s News 12 and a couple of local newspapers.

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