Cardinal Dolan gathered a group of New York’s religious, business and community leaders at St. Patrick’s Cathedral April 18 to announce the establishment of the “From St. Patrick’s to Notre Dame” fund to assist with the restoration and rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was seriously damaged by a fire three days earlier.
“We announce this morning the From St. Patrick to Notre Dame fund as a way for people from New York and beyond to help rebuild the magnificent house of faith and monument to civilization in Paris, Notre Dame,” the cardinal said in his opening remarks at the 8:30 a.m. press conference.
“We trust that this initiative is yet another example of helpful outreach for New York, a community that, yes, has experienced its share of tragedy and always has been generously aided by others.
“We trust as well that our efforts will be even more effective coming as they do during a week and a Thursday that we Christians call Holy, and as we anticipate the feast of Passover.”
Cardinal Dolan said the leaders came together after hearing many New Yorkers express sadness and offering to help after the blaze at the 800-year-old cathedral. He also received a call from philanthropist and co-founder of Home Depot Kenneth Langone, who will help to lead the fund-raising effort.
Langone, who made a $100,000 gift to the fund, headed the fund-raising efforts for the recent restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“Our hope is, 800 years from now, historians will look back and say this is how New York came together,” Langone said. “We came together for a wonderful cause and the world benefited.”
Anne-Claire Legendre, consul general of France, also spoke at the press conference. She later told CNY her nation was “extremely moved” by the announcement.
“We have had outpouring messages, outpouring donations and outpouring signs of solidarity and friendship, but what is happening this morning is very special to us,” she said. “You’ve seen business leaders gathering with all the religions represented in New York City to say very clearly they want to support Notre Dame.
“It comes from Cardinal Dolan here in St. Patrick, and it’s very symbolic of the friendship between New York City and Paris.”
Ms. Legendre said the Notre Dame Cathedral goes beyond being a “very special place for the worshippers” and the Catholic community.
“It’s really the soul of Paris and really is the core of our identity and national identity,” she said.
“The cathedral has played a central role in our history. You mention any type of epidemics, war, battles, liberations that have happened in France, everything took place, was commemorated and was celebrated at Notre Dame. In 1944, when the French and American troops entered Paris, they went to Notre Dame to celebrate the liberation of Paris from the Nazis.”
Ms. Legendre said a final assessment of the damage may be weeks or months away, and rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral will be difficult.
“We will rebuild the cathedral not as it was, because that will be impossible, the wooden roof was from the 13th century, but to rebuild it as close as it was and more beautiful than it was,” she said. “That’s what President (Emmanuel) Macron said. He wants it to be even more beautiful than it was before to give it back to the French people and to humankind.”
Those who wish to donate may visit www.sptond.org or mail a check to St. Patrick’s to Notre Dame Fund, 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022.