A special Mass was offered Sept. 26 at Holy Family Church near the United Nations to pray for the victims of the devastating Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. The afternoon liturgy was celebrated by the parish pastor, Father Gerald E. Murray, at the request of the consul general of the Bahamas, Lawrence S. Cartwright.
“Our Mass this afternoon is to pray for those who died in Hurricane Dorian, and for the injured and the missing,” Father Murray said in his homily. “It was just a couple months ago that we had a very happy Mass to celebrate the Independence Day of the Bahamas (July 10), and so many people came to give thanks to God for that wonderful gift of freedom.”
The pastor added, “And today we come for another purpose, to give thanks to God for His blessings and to pray for eternal life for those who have died. We are very honored to have the foreign minister of the Bahamas, the Honorable Darren Henfield, present, and we ask God to bless him in his work, which now of course is so significant as regards to recovery efforts.”
A total of 56 people were killed in Hurricane Dorian, according to recent media reports. Hundreds are still officially listed as missing after the powerful storm that stalled over the Bahamas Sept. 1-3.
Father Murray went on to note the Church assistance that has been made, including a $50,000 contribution from the archdiocese Cardinal Dolan approved for the Bahamas (CNY, Sept. 12).
The pastor also spoke about the story of the Good Samaritan and the significance of helping those in need. “The duty of Christian love extends particularly to strangers…and we pray for the Bahamian community in New York,” Father Murray said.
Henfield, speaking toward the end of the Mass, expressed his gratitude for the special liturgy, donations and relief efforts, and prayers.
“We give thanks to the Lord for your prayers. Prayer is what we need in this hour of distress,” Henfield said. “Despite what we face, our faith teaches us that God is with us. He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us.” Henfield expressed thanks for “the solidarity and fraternity and good will we have received from the international community.”
After the liturgy, Henfield told CNY the Mass was “very important and very moving.”
“The level of solidarity that we get from services like this—it continues to encourage us and to lift our spirits,” he said. “It is very important to a community that is trying to rebuild. We are a resilient people; we have a tremendous faith in God. And we’re very grateful to Father Murray.”
Among the Mass-goers were Cartwright, the Bahamian consul general; Sheila Carey, permanent representative of the Bahamas to the UN; and Joy A. Newbold, consul/diplomat at the Bahamas Consulate General’s office in Manhattan. Also in attendance were Kamina Johnson-Smith, minister of foreign affairs for Jamaica, and UN officials from other Caribbean nations and Canada.
Holy Family Church, located on East 47th Street, between First and Second avenues, often hosts Masses and other services for members of the UN community because of its proximity to the headquarters of the world body. On Sept. 16, a prayer service was held at Holy Family for the Vigil of the opening of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly (CNY, Sept. 26).