2020 The Year in Review Across the Archdiocese



  • Cardinal Dolan, speaking about a rash of recent incidents of violence and vandalism against religious faithful and institutions in New York, said Catholics can learn a lesson from the Jewish community’s response to the senseless, irrational acts.
  • At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a Mass was offered in grateful remembrance of Cardinal John O’Connor Jan. 15, the day marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.
  • Visiting Puerto Rico Jan. 31-Feb. 1, administrators from archdiocesan Catholic Charities witnessed sorrow stemming from the devastation caused by the recent earthquakes in communities still recovering from the 2017 hurricanes.


  • A monthly Holy Hour for the spiritual renewal of the archdiocese will be offered on First Fridays, beginning March 6, at St. John the Evangelist Church at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan and other parish churches.
  • Eight regional Catholic elementary schools in the archdiocese will take on a new shape in the 2020-2021 academic year, the Office of the Superintendent of Schools announced Feb. 24. The changes include the formation of three new academies, one in East Harlem from two schools, and two on Staten Island from four schools. Two schools in Rockland County will unite to form a new school.


  • In light of the continued concern surrounding the coronavirus crisis, and the advice of medical experts, all Masses in the Archdiocese of New York have been canceled since the weekend of March 14-15. Some churches remain open for private prayer. Private Masses will be celebrated in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and will be available on many cable systems and livestreamed on the cathedral website.
  • Cardinal Dolan told viewers in an NBC “Today” show interview March 23 that “God is with us,” and encouraged them to turn to their faith for strength as people in the United States and around the world battle through the coronavirus crisis.
  • The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation announced that Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center in Yonkers was awarded a $1 million grant in the first round of grants distributed by the foundation. The foundation March 4 handed out grants totaling nearly $150 million to 500 programs, initiatives and activities—Catholic and non-Catholic—in the archdiocese and throughout New York state.
  • Kevin T. Reynolds has begun duties as the administrator of the archdiocese’s Lay Review Board.


  • Pastors across the archdiocese are exploring different ways of bringing the faith to their parishioners at a time when they are unable to gather in parish churches for Masses and other liturgical celebrations.
  • Michael Deegan, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, reflected on how well students across the archdiocese are coping at home amid the coronavirus pandemic that has closed their schools since March 16.
  • Cardinal Dolan told a television and livestream audience they are sharing a “Good Friday moment” with Jesus during the coronavirus crisis as the cardinal offered Palm Sunday Mass in a nearly empty St. Patrick’s Cathedral April 5.
  • Cardinal Dolan, in his Easter Sunday homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, emphasized how emptiness leads to fulfillment. Emptiness has become a reality in the age of the coronavirus, including the barren cathedral pews at the 10 a.m. Mass the cardinal celebrated April 12.
  • Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities, said emergency food distribution in recent weeks was made possible thanks to the dedication of agency staffers and the generosity of agency partners. Additional food distribution projects are being planned, he said, as more New Yorkers face dire circumstances stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.


  • Michael Deegan assembled a Health and Safety Task Force of the Office of the Superintendent March 4 with an assignment to plan for the unexpected. The task force’s assignment continued May 1 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced schools in New York state will remain closed through the end of June due to the coronavirus and students will be taught by their teachers remotely through the end of June.
  • Five priests in the Hudson Valley were selected as volunteers to live in isolation and assist chaplains and parish priests in bringing pastoral care to the sick in hospitals, nursing home residents and the homebound during the coronavirus.
  • Cardinal Dolan and other Church officials presented an Ascension Thursday overview of a comprehensive plan to reopen the archdiocese’s 288 parish churches. The plan, called Faith Forward, offers five levels, or stages, that will seek to move gradually and safely toward a return to the availability of the sacraments and, ultimately, Sunday Mass attendance.The guidelines were outlined during a press conference at Our Saviour Church in Manhattan May 21.


  • As New York state begins to reopen, the Catholic schools in the archdiocese have formed a panel of experts that will focus on creating a safe and responsible plan to reopen their schools. The Catholic Schools Reopening Advisory Council will report to Michael Deegan, archdiocesan superintendent of schools.
  • Parishes in the archdiocese are now serving as testing sites for the coronavirus. Staff and volunteers of SOMOS Community Care are administering the tests with assistance from parish volunteers.
  • Church doors in the Hudson Valley reopened in time for parishioners of Annunciation-Our Lady of Fatima to celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ with a Eucharistic procession following Sunday Mass at Annunciation Church in Crestwood June 14.
  • An interfaith rally, march and prayer vigil in Manhattan June 7 emphasizing solidarity against racism featured participation from Catholic clergy and parishioners. The event, Faith March 4 Justice, was in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
  • With coronavirus protocols in place, Cardinal Dolan ordained two men to the priesthood June 26 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral—one for the Archdiocese of New York, Father Luis M. Silva Cervantes, 35, a native of Mexico, and the other for the Idente Missionaries, Father Roland P. Pereira, M.Id., 37, born in India. The order serves at parishes in the archdiocese. The rite was delayed a month due to the coronavirus.
  • Father Robert J. Hospodar has been named judicial vicar of the Metropolitan Tribunal, which he has served since 2009 as promoter of justice, the Cardinal’s Office announced. The appointment became effective June 15.


  • The Office of the Superintendent of Schools announced on July 9 that 20 Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of New York would be unable to reopen in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Three Catholic schools in Orange County will also merge on one campus.
  • The Catholic Education Advancement office stepped up its fund-raising efforts on behalf of families of Catholic school students in need of tuition assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic by raising more than $3 million in less than a month for the Cardinal Dolan Covid-19 Emergency Tuition Assistance Fund.
  • Cardinal Dolan announced the appointment of Bishop James Massa as the rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, effective July 16. Bishop Massa is an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn and a former member of the seminary faculty.
  • In a reverent demonstration of the Corporal Works of Mercy, Cardinal Dolan led a morning prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral July 11 to bless the ashes of 250 Mexican-born faithful who lived in the New York area and died with the effects of Covid-19. The cremated remains were transported to Mexico the same day, for a Mass, after which they were presented to family members for individual interment services.


  • Two Sisters of Life, Sister Virginia Joy, S.V., 39, director of the Respect Life Office of the archdiocese, and Sister Naomi Maria Magnificat, S.V., 34,  made final vows on Aug. 6. Cardinal Dolan celebrated the Mass of Perpetual Profession at the Sisters of Life motherhouse, Annunciation in Suffern.
  • More than 35 clerics representing  the Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic faith traditions of Lebanon met in Brooklyn to pray for victims of a deadly explosion in Beirut and for an end to the decades of violence and instability in that country. The gathering took place Aug. 25 at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral.
  • In response to the recent theft of the Blessed Sacrament and the small, gold monstrance that contained it at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard in Manhattan, a regularly scheduled Spanish evening Mass was offered there Aug. 27, followed by a prayer service.


  • As Catholic elementary school students buckled down at their desks their first full week of classes Sept. 14-18, schools superintendent Michael Deegan buckled up in his car for a field trip to visit them—96 schools in five days. He was thanking Catholic educators for going “above and beyond” amid Covid-19.
  • Cardinal Dolan offered a blessing and helped to distribute bags of food during a special archdiocesan Catholic Charities food pantry gathering in the Bronx Sept. 23. Organizers determined that the 2,400 meals given out included the 1 millionth meal distributed by Catholic Charities during the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic.


  • The Catholic vote and the coronavirus subtly headlined the annual fundraiser of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Oct. 1, livestreamed from the Manhattan residence of Cardinal Dolan due to Covid-19. Remarks via recorded videos were delivered by President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the candidates in next month’s presidential election. Nearly six hours after the event, just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 2, President Trump tweeted that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order closing all schools in “hot zones” where cases of Covid-19 seem to be increasing is “a broadbrush approach that penalizes all school children and families needlessly,” said the New York State Catholic Conference in an Oct. 5 statement issued on behalf of the New York Archdiocese and the Brooklyn Diocese.
  • A total of 46 police officers and civilian employees were honored during a Memorial Mass Cardinal Dolan offered for NYPD victims of the coronavirus Oct. 5 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • A statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron of immigrants, now stands overlooking New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Unveiled during a dedication ceremony in Battery Park City on Columbus Day, Oct. 12, the statue honors Mothers Cabrini, as she is best known. She is revered for not only her devotion to immigrants but also to children and the destitute.
  • Eight men were ordained permanent deacons of the archdiocese Oct. 31 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral by Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen. He presided on behalf of Cardinal Dolan, who was in Hartford, Conn., for the beatification of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus.


  • ArchCare is prepared for a second wave of Covid-19 or any other virus that may threaten the health of people it serves or its care team staff, said Scott LaRue, president and CEO of the archdiocesan health care system. ArchCare cares for more than 9,000 seniors, the poor and persons with special needs at locations throughout the archdiocese.
  • Cardinal Dolan was elected chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the virtual assembly of the U.S. Catholic bishops Nov. 16-17.
  • More than 100 people gathered at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne Nov. 14 to dedicate a new burial area for Catholic veterans of the United States armed services. Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia in the archdiocese, blessed the monument and new graves.
  • In a 5-4 decision issued just before midnight Nov. 25, the Supreme Court lifted the pandemic restrictions on congregation sizes at houses of worship imposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Diocese of Brooklyn and two Orthodox Jewish synagogues in separate findings appealed to the nation’s highest court.
  • A Nov. 23 ruling by the New York State Supreme Court on Staten Island granted the relief sought by Catholic schools that the New York City Department of Education provide the same Covid-19 testing for its students as it does for public school students, as required by New York state law.


  • The Cardinal’s Christmas Celebration, traditionally a formal luncheon, went virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic in its 75th year. The annual party, this year held in the early evening Dec. 10, honored longtime benefactor the late Mary Higgins Clark, a Bronx-born Catholic and bestselling author who passed away in January at age 92.