Dear Salesian Family,
On Saturday, March 10, Cardinal Dolan visited St. John Bosco Parish in Port Chester, NY. It was the first time he has visited the new parish, formed from four parishes that had served Port Chester and Rye Brook (Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of the Rosary, Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Corpus Christi). Congratulations to Fr. Pat Angelucci and his team for organizing a fitting welcome to the cardinal and celebrating the new pastoral reality!
During his homily, Cardinal Dolan mentioned that some people may say, “The best days of the Church are behind us.” He went on to comment on what he was seeing at St. John Bosco Parish—a full church, young people and their families, a youth choir (DiFErente), ethnic diversity (readings and music in Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and English), the presence of the Salesian Sisters and the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement, and so much more. The cardinal took issue with those who look back only to days of past glory. They are missing the vibrancy of the Church in the present, so evident in the united parish of St. John Bosco. He acknowledged the difficulties and sacrifices that the faith communities have had to make during this six-year process of merging, but at the same time, he encouraged everyone to see the Church very much alive.
Fr. Pat and his team had arranged for some richly symbolic gestures at different moments of the liturgy. In the beginning, there was a procession of flags that represented the many countries of origin of the parishioners. After the homily, Cardinal Dolan blessed four candles, presenting the candles to representatives from the former parishes who then carried the candles to the candleholders used for the consecration of the church. The prayer of blessing helped the people understand our unity in faith and mission. After Communion, Cardinal Dolan blessed a large statue of St. John Bosco that will be placed outside the church facing Westchester Avenue. He spoke of his personal devotion to St. John Bosco, inspired by his second-grade teacher; he also expressed his gratitude to Fr. Pat Angelucci and the Salesians for being like Christ the Good Shepherd, pastoring God’s flock.
In his words of thanks to the cardinal, Fr. Pat had the opportunity to confirm with greater detail the vibrancy of the new parish. He identified some specific signs of this life: Corpus Christi-Holy Rosary Regional School, religious education with close to 900 young people, outreach to the parents, 37 active groups, weekly adult faith formation with about 200 participants, hundreds of young people involved in soccer, and basketball, Friday night youth center, thousands of people served a hot meal every month, hundreds of families receiving food at the food pantry, afterschool programs, Don Bosco Scholars, the Don Bosco Workers Program, which promotes the dignity of workers and defends their rights—the list goes on! With great faith, Fr. Pat told the cardinal that the merger was a difficult but good decision. Agreeing with Cardinal Dolan, he acknowledged that the past 2 ½ years have not been an easy journey. Still, in the end, we can all see the Spirit of God at work.
The celebrations continued after Mass with a buffet open to all in the Knights of Columbus Hall. The cardinal cordially greeted everyone, as they took hundreds of photos with him.
I am happy to share this with you. We join our brothers and sisters in celebrating God’s work in our midst. We can acknowledge the gift of the Salesian charism to the Church and the neighborhood, and renew our commitment to our “Da Mihi Animas” motto, which Don Bosco lived with passion.
Once again, congratulations and thanks to Fr. Pat, the Salesian Family, all the parishioners and collaborators at St. John Bosco Parish of Port Chester/Rye Brook. May God continue to bestow upon you all many blessings.
Fr. Tim Zak