Cardinal Dolan expressed appreciation to his predecessor Cardinal Edward Egan and recalled the night the Cardinal Egan Catholic Center at New York University was blessed and dedicated as he addressed about 100 students, priests and guests to mark the 10th anniversary of the occasion.
“This is one of his many accomplishments as Archbishop of New York,” said Cardinal Dolan on his return to the Catholic Center in Greenwich Village Sept. 8. “This was one of his pride and joys that we have this here. I can remember how he was beaming 10 years ago when we came here for the dedication and I’m really moved that you all wanted to name this the Cardinal Egan Center as well.”
The center, dedicated on Sept. 8, 2012, includes a chapel, auditoriums and common space for college-age students to meet, build friendships and come to know Christ.
“My main message this evening is gratitude because that’s what’s happening here,” he said. “I can gratefully remember a decade ago when Cardinal Egan and I came down here to bless this magnificent Catholic student center at NYU. To see the vitality, the promise and the hope in the company of all of you is a genuine blessing, and I thank God.”
After leading vespers with students, guests and priests, Cardinal Dolan spoke about the day’s celebration of the Nativity of Mary as well as the importance of Catholic campus ministry. He said it’s important for students to have a spiritual place on campus and for the Church to have a “very visible, respected, radiant presence on university campus.”
“When we celebrate her birthday, we pay homage to God’s eternal plan that God has a purpose, God has a focus, God has a design and His design of course is our salvation,” said Cardinal Dolan, who ended the night by answering questions from students and guests.
The cardinal said “one of the missions” of the Catholic student center is to promote that expression of God’s vision.
“His ultimate design is that we would return to Him for all eternity in heaven. God wants us there. He has a plan for that and He’ll help us get there.”
Father Isaiah Beiter, O.P., has served as the center’s chaplain for two months and is still getting to know the students and Catholic center community.
“We’re extremely blessed to have this space,” he told CNY. “Tonight is a night to celebrate the community here at the Catholic center and that the students have a place to come to know Christ.”
Luis Gonzalez, a junior from Miami, is the center’s student leadership president, said he feels blessed the Catholic center is available for students. He said he’s grown spiritually as a member of the center’s homeless outreach program where students share the Lord’s presence with the homeless and assist them with food and supplies.
“It was here as a freshman I was first invited to do that,” Gonzalez said. “That has to be the best thing I’ve experienced here at the Catholic center.
“What I’ve learned is to find the poverty, not only in the homeless where it’s obvious, but in myself and in other brothers and sisters especially at NYU. I think a lot of students are very poor spiritually and homeless outreach has given me the gift of seeing my brothers and sisters in their poverty and seeing where they need the Lord.”
Vinny DaSilva, director of the archdiocese’s University Apostolate, is hopeful of a bright future for the center and young adults in the Church.
“An enlivened community, something that brightens the Village,” he said of the center’s future. “Two years ago, the center was shut with everything else. To have so many smiling faces out here, so many people worshipping in our beautiful chapel down the hall, it really brings the dedication and the mission of the University Apostolate in the archdiocese to the forefront of the Village.
“Connecting with our local parishes, it gives us a lot of hope for our young adult communities in the future of the Church.”
Gonzalez said he hopes students attending colleges throughout Manhattan will become a part of the Catholic center community.
“Any young adults, college aged, if you’re in lower Manhattan, just come check us out,” he said. “We’re a family here. We want to love you. We can learn to love the Lord and grow in a relationship with Him.”