More than 1,000 active and retired New York City police officers, and their families and friends, gathered to celebrate the 100th annual Mass and Communion Breakfast of the NYPD’s Holy Name Society of Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island April 22.
The Sunday festivities began with 8 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral celebrated by Cardinal Dolan. Clergy who serve as chaplains to the NYPD concelebrated the liturgy. NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan were among the dignitaries in attendance.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal Dolan said in his homily, is the “spiritual home” of the NYPD. “It’s good to have you here this morning; you are very much at home.”
“It strikes me,” the cardinal said, “what a joy it is to be able to welcome you here for a happy occasion, because how often we’ve gathered in these hallowed walls for sad occasions, for the funeral of one of your brothers who has laid down his life in that supreme sacrifice.”
It was appropriate the celebration occurred on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, designated as Good Shepherd Sunday on the Church’s calendar, the cardinal explained. “Officers,” he told the men and women in blue, “in a very real way you share in the role of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.”
The Holy Name Society promotes respect for the Most Holy Name of God, faith in the Catholic Church and loyalty to one’s country and respect for all lawful authority, both civil and religious. Founded in 1914, it is reportedly the oldest and largest religious organization in the NYPD. The current president is NYPD Det. Robert Barrett.
At the conclusion of the liturgy a colorful procession led by members of the NYPD Color Guard and NYPD Emerald Society marched from the cathedral to the nearby New York Hilton Midtown where the Holy Name Society’s annual breakfast was served. Various honorees were recognized at the lively and festive breakfast, including the Man of the Year which was awarded to Assistant Chief Vincent Coogan, executive officer of the NYPD Transit Bureau.
Coogan, a Harlem native and a 37-year member of the NYPD, belongs to St. Patrick’s parish in Highland Mills. There he attends services with his wife of 35 years, Pat. They are the parents of two daughters.
He shared with CNY his thoughts about his special recognition. “I am so humbled and honored to be the Man of the Year. I’ve been a part of the Holy Name Society for a long time and I’ve been practicing my Catholic faith since birth pretty much. I grew up going to Catholic elementary school (Annunciation School) and then on to Cardinal Hayes High School, so my faith has always been a part of my life and it is what guides me every day.”
Larry Kudlow, an economist, television and radio host and most recently appointed director of the National Economic Council under President Donald Trump, was in attendance and recognized for his charitable contribution to the Holy Name Society. In his acceptance speech he was candid about how he found Catholicism after battling and overcoming substance abuse. He praised the NYPD for their work and vowed to always be a supporter of law enforcement.
The day’s underlying theme was tradition and what seemed to be a common trait among the majority in attendance is that their practice of the faith was instilled at home at a young age.
Mike Francesa, the famed New York sports radio talk show host, was one of the celebrity honorees at the centennial celebration.
“It’s a nice event and to be asked to be a part of it is a great honor—not just because it’s the 100th anniversary, but because I’ve always had a connection with the police department and the fire department going back to the early days of the FAN (WFAN).” The veteran sports broadcaster is a product of Catholic education.
Joe Piscopo, the renowned comedic star and now radio host for AM 970, was honored for his charitable works in the tri-state area, especially his native New Jersey. His four children and his 93-year-old mother, whom he credited for his Catholic upbringing, accompanied him. After receiving his award he displayed some of the talent that has made him a success as he sang Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”
Sgt. Joreyni Martinez of the 30th Precinct and a 10-year veteran of the police department, attended the Holy Name Society’s Mass and Communion breakfast for the first time.
“I was raised a Catholic and I was taught to always help people when you can and I believe this is the best job to practice what I was taught,” said Ms. Martinez, a member of Sacred Heart parish in Monroe. “I also feel that we are role models and examples for the youth that we engage with on a daily basis.”