Friars Throw a Birthday Party for the Cardinal

May 14, 2012

St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village was recently filled with guests who had been invited to join Cardinal Egan as he celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving for his 80th birthday. Cardinal Egan, the main celebrant and homilist, was joined at the altar by Cardinal Dolan; Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations; Bishop Timothy McDonnell of Springfield, Mass., whom Cardinal Egan had ordained as an auxiliary bishop; as well as a host of Dominican friars including Fr. John McGuire, Fr. Romanus Cessario, Fr. Dominic Izzo, and myself. The guests in the church included all manner of family members, friends and associates, namely from his tenure as Archbishop of New York. As he looked back on his 80 years of life, he said he was happy to recall “in loving memory” those who have witnessed Jesus Christ to him. Cardinal Egan spoke about the saints who have walked the same streets as the rest of us do each day, ticking off a familiar litany that began with St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. John Neumann and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and included others such as Rose Hawthorne, founder of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne; Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the great communicator; and Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. The reception was held after the Mass in the gleaming new Catholic Center at New York University, where the furniture had arrived only that week. Just a few blocks away from St. Joseph’s, which serves as the university’s Catholic parish, the new facility overlooks Washington Square Park. The Catholic Center, on the ground floor of the five-story facility, includes a 181-seat chapel, a lecture hall for 200 people, a meeting room that can accommodate 180 and a common room holding another 100, plus a kitchen, a confessional room and other amenities. Father John McGuire, O.P., the pastor and director of the Catholic Center at NYU, said such a structure is quite in keeping with the university’s standing as home to the largest number of Catholic students in the nation.

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