The annual White Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral June 26 gave Cardinal Dolan, the principal celebrant, the opportunity to recognize and thank Catholic health care workers for their service throughout the archdiocese.
ArchCare, the continuing care community of the archdiocese, sponsored the Mass, which was attended by 500 people. The morning liturgy opened with a procession led by a statue of Our Lady of Good Health, commemorating the 16th-century apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Vailankanni, India.
“Welcome to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for our annual White Mass when we thank God for the dedication of those who in the most Holy Name of Jesus reach out with his healing to the sick,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We thank God for ArchCare, which does that so effectively in the archdiocese. We also thank God for all of you, our health care workers, as we lift up the needs of the sick, the fragile and infirm to the Lord.”
In his homily, Cardinal Dolan again thanked the health care workers as well as the priests and sisters in religious orders who serve in health care for the work they do. “I’m so proud of you because of your passionate dedication to the sick that flows from the very nature of the Church because it is so central to the ministry of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Dolan shared a conversation he once had with Cardinal James Harvey, a native of the United States who served as prefect of the papal household under Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Dolan asked if Pope John Paul II had ever lost patience with then-Archbishop Harvey. It happened only once, when a woman battling cancer asked the pope for prayers at a papal audience. After praying for the woman, the pope asked Archbishop Harvey to get the woman’s name, so he could continue praying for her. With the large crowd seeking to reach the pope, the archbishop was unable to locate the woman, despite his best efforts.
When the audience ended, the pope asked for the woman’s name.
“(Cardinal Harvey) said that’s the only time he ever got mad at me,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The love and care of the sick, as Pope St. John Paul II obviously showed, is a central, essential non-negotiable aspect of the Church’s ministry and you do it well,” he told the ArchCare employees.
Scott LaRue, president and CEO of ArchCare, in remarks at the end of Mass, thanked Cardinal Dolan for his visits with health care workers and people served by ArchCare’s programs and the opportunity to participate in the annual Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He also recalled the cardinal’s ArchCare visit in Kingston June 17.
“Your Eminence, last week we were blessed to have you with us to launch our expanded home
care ministry and dedicate our new health care career training center in Kingston,” LaRue said. “You reminded us that caring for others and responding to the needs of those who are hurting is more than just a job. It’s a sacred calling.
“Let all of us here today do everything we can to embrace our sacred calling and let us continue to use our courage, our ingenuity to ensure that the sick, the elderly, the poor, the people with special needs in our society feel revered, respected and not abandoned.”
Donna Cooper of Croton-on-Hudson and Nicole O’Connor of Stony Point are registered nurses who work with ArchCare at Home in Valhalla.
“I feel blessed that we are being recognized this way,” said Ms. O’Connor, a parishioner of St. Gregory Barbarigo in Garnerville. “Being here with the cardinal in a house of worship, I’m Roman Catholic, and this is an amazing experience. He’s such a wonderful, amazing man. I just love being a nurse and helping people.”
Ms. Cooper added, “It was a wonderful, affirming message for all the work we do as nurses and health care workers. It was very good to hear it. I have a lot of memories of many years of working with people at homes and in the hospitals. I just wanted to take care of people and give to people.”