Retired Priests Gratefully Call New Cardinal Egan Pavilion Home


Cardinal Dolan recently blessed and dedicated the new Edward Cardinal Egan Pavilion, an expansion of the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, which includes the John Cardinal O’Connor Pavilion, now 13 years old.

Before the Oct. 12 dedication ceremony at 5655 Arlington Ave., Cardinal Dolan offered Mass in the chapel of the Cardinal O’Connor Pavilion concelebrated by numerous priests, both active and retired—including retired Auxiliary Bishop Robert Brucato. Among the congregants were a number of benefactors of the St. John Vianney Center, named for the patron saint of parish priests, the Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney.

“We are blessed in this archdiocese with this magnificent facility,” Cardinal Dolan said in his homily. “It’s a gift from God, for which we are most grateful. And it’s a gift from God’s people, many of whom are here today. This could not have happened without you, through your generosity.”

On several occasions throughout the Mass and dedication, he thanked and praised his predecessor, the late Cardinal Egan, the new facility’s namesake, for his “genius” in converting the former college seminary to the Cardinal O’Connor Pavilion.

“We’re honored to name this new residence after him,” Cardinal Dolan said of the Cardinal Egan Pavilion, which is connected to the Cardinal O’Connor Pavilion.

Cardinal Egan, who died on March 5, 2015 at age 82, served as Archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009 and then was the first Archbishop Emeritus. He also served under Cardinal O’Connor as an auxiliary bishop and vicar for education in the archdiocese, 1985-1988.

“What a tribute,” Cardinal Dolan said, “from God’s people, to us, that they would love their priests so much that they would want to see that they are taken care of” in a setting that is “warm, gracious, safe, secure and hospitable,” but “without the burdens of administration, and live our priesthood in happiness and fraternity for whatever years God gives us.”

The cardinal acknowledged the aid that came from the New York Catholic Foundation and the representatives of that organization who attended the Mass and dedication.

The Cardinal Egan Pavilion has a capacity of 44, including a 13-bed enhanced care unit.

Cardinal Egan dedicated the Cardinal O’Connor Pavilion in September 2003. Its capacity is 34 priests, and it has two guest rooms for active priests who have health concerns.

Mary Lynch, executive director of the St. John Vianney Center, delivered remarks before the dedication. “This special day is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of intense planning, construction, hands-on purchasing of furniture, supplies, hiring of kitchen staff, cleaning staff, nurses’ aides, administration and medical personnel,” said Ms. Lynch, who referred to the campus as an “oasis in Riverdale.”

Among the new residents is Msgr. Robert Stern, 84, who, at the time of his retirement in 2011, had served as secretary-general of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) since 1987. He was ordained in 1958.

He and a number of priests have bragging rights for being among the first to move into the residence, in early August.

“It’s beautiful. It’s so nice. Everything is taken care of. Three meals a day—delicious, tasty meals. They take care of your room for you,” he said, and there’s laundry service.

“The beautiful part here,” he continued, “is that it’s designed for as you get older, to provide more and more service and help for you.”

Msgr. Stern noted the excellent spirit among the staff. “You’re in good hands.”

He expressed his gratitude to all whose who made the Cardinal Egan Pavilion possible. “The Church is everybody, not just the clergy. The clergy are just delegated to do some of the holy work.”

Father Richard Adams, 77, also arrived in August. “This is my dreamland. I feel spoiled—I am spoiled,” he said with a hearty laugh. “I’m happy.”

Father Adams retired in 2014. Among other assignments, he had served as pastor of St. Agnes parish in Manhattan, 2002-2011. He was ordained in 1965.

“The chapel is beautiful—I love it,” Father Adams said of the beautifully appointed worship space on the first floor of the Cardinal Egan Pavilion.

Father Robert Imbelli, 77, an associate professor emeritus at Boston College where he taught theology, arrived at his new home at the end of September. “The building is magnificent,” he said. “The thought that has gone into it is noticeable.”

Natural light is important to him, he said, as he took in the view from the pavilion’s sunroom. Father Imbelli is grateful for the abundance of light that permeates through the residence’s many windows. The view from his room of the Palisades and the Hudson River “is very conducive to prayer.” The staff is “generous beyond measure.”

Father Imbelli also taught at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie and Maryknoll Seminary. He retired in 2014. He was ordained in 1965.

At the dedication, Cardinal Dolan asked that God’s blessing “come upon this residence, all who have helped to construct it, and all who live here, now and in the future.”