The parishioners of St. Anthony’s Church in Nanuet celebrated the feast day of their
patron saint, Saint Anthony of Padua with a first-time visit from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan—a novena—and a parish picnic.
Archbishop Dolan was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Pentecost Vigil
Mass on Saturday. While responsible for overseeing the 2.5 million Catholics in the
Archdiocese of New York, one of the jobs the Archbishop enjoys most is visiting the
“Of all the many responsibilities and duties that I would have as your archbishop, I don’t think any would rival this simple occasion of being with God’s people
at a parish for a Sunday Mass," he said. "It gives me a chance to let you know how much I love you, how very proud I am to be your archbishop, and how deeply grateful I am for your commitment, your fidelity, and your generosity to Jesus and His church.”
The people and priests of Saint Anthony’s let the archbishop know that they love him too.
"It was an honor to see him," said Vincent Schera.
"It was a fantastic service," said Ronald Cobbs. "It was a great honor to see the Archbishop. I've been in this parish for years."
The parish church was packed and many people arrived an hour early to be sure to get seats. They smiled as Archbishop Dolan entered the church and posed for pictures with him at the social held after the Mass.
Pentecost celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the church seven weeks (50 days) after Easter. It is considered the birthday of the church. Archbishop Dolan commented that after Easter and Christmas, Pentecost is the third most important holiday for the church.
“Pentecost is very much alive for Catholics because the Holy Spirit continues to work as can be seen in Saint Anthony of Padua’s connection with people and the parish’s liturgies and charitable works,” said Archbishop Dolan.
Archbishop Dolan also explained that in his travels throughout the world, he has learned that statues of Saint Anthony are extremely popular, the most popular being statues of Jesus, Saint Mary, and Saint Joseph. The people of Saint Anthony’s often pray to their patron saint in times of trouble.
"It was beautiful," said Marlene Sorce about Mass. She came with her husband Joseph that Saturday. "The music was outstanding and he (Archbishop Dolan) was absolutely wonderful. His visit really made it a great Pentecost and we're really fortunate to have him as our Archbishop."
Before Mass, Deacon John Maloney led the parish in the novena to Saint Anthony. A novena involves nine days of prayer that parishioners began last Sunday and that will continue until Monday. The novenas were held after the 9am daily Mass and again at 7 p.m. The evening novenas were followed by socials coordinated by Shirley Lemay.
“The novena socials were very successful," said Lemay. "The cooperation of the
various societies who donated food was appreciated and the people seemed to enjoy the evening. The number of people attending each novena and social increased as the word spread which made it a success.”
During the novena, parishioners prayed,
“O glorious Saint Anthony, unfailing worker of miracles, to you do we raise our hearts and hands, to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the loving heart of Jesus all the help and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly for the grace of final perseverance, and the special favor we now implore.”
The Mass was celebrated by the pastor Fr. Jerry Deponai, Fr. Fernando Caindec,
Fr. Joseph DeSanto, pastor emeritus Msgr. William Reynolds, and vicar of Rockland, Msgr. Edward Weber. Fr. Frank Bassett organized the Mass and served as the Master of Ceremony.
"It's wonderful to have him (Archbishop Dolan)," said Fr. Bassett. "He loves people, talking to people and being with the community. He's great leadership for New York."
Mary Curry, Ashley Duffoo, Christian Duffoo, Vincent Coratolo, Mary Flynn, Sean
Healy, and Rustle Anthony Francisco were the altar servers.
“My brother and I have been altar servers for about five years. We were the candle bearers. It was very exciting to serve for the archbishop," said Ashley Duffoo. Her twin Christian added, “We weren’t nervous at all. We knew most of what we had to do from serving at Sunday Mass and Fr. Frank taught us the rest.”
Steve Barry was the lector. Rosalie Gallo, Thomas Donovan, Kathy McMahon, and Mary Princi were the gift bearers bringing the water and wine and the hosts to the archbishop.
“It was a very sincere honor to carry the gifts," said Donovan. "My wife and I met
Archbishop Dolan at Don Bosco and then again at the Stewardship Appeal, so this was a wonderful opportunity for us to say hello personally.”
All of the people of Saint Anthony’s Church agreed that having Archbishop Dolan
celebrate Mass made the parish feast day truly memorable.