Timothy Cardinal Dolan Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
Feb 06, 1950
Feb 18, 2012
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English A gift to New York for generations
Dec 31, 2014
Everybody loves Saint Patrick’s, and all are welcome there.

The image actually came from a neighbor at her desk across the street at Rockefeller Center, high above Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. She thoughtfully wrote:

“Since 2006, when that ugly scaffolding went up around the cathedral, I’ve wondered everyday when I’d have the wonderful view of ‘my cathedral’ back. As the scaffolding has been coming down there in recent weeks, I feel like my own Christmas present is being unwrapped! Thanks!”

You’re welcome!

I hope you’ve noticed it. The whole city seems to be talking about it. The façade of our historic Saint Patrick’s is now revealed — radiant, tuck pointed, glistening, protected and secure for the future.

“That scaffolding reminded me of the braces I had on my teeth when I was a kid,” another New Yorker wrote, “and I was as eager for it to come down as I was to get the braces off!”

True, the repair and restoration continues — the rest of the exterior, the garden areas, the heating and air, the rewiring, pews, roof, and floors, the artwork and windows — as does the fundraising!

But, I agree with my neighbor across the street: St. Patrick’s Cathedral is back, and what a Christmas gift it is!

Everybody loves Saint Patrick’s, and all are welcome there.

I call it “America’s parish church,” and nobody has yet to disagree. Pope Benedict XVI called it “one of the most famous churches in the world.”

A prominent Jewish benefactor recalled how, as a boy, coming home from the synagogue each Saturday morning, his mom and dad would take him to the cathedral to light a candle, whispering, “This is the Catholic big church, but we’re welcome here too.”

We uncovered in our research a postcard of Saint Patrick’s from 1878, the year it opened, from a recently arrived immigrant back to his Mom in Ireland. “Don’t worry, Mom. This is Saint Patrick’s, and this is where I go!”

I wasn’t here too long before I was told of the tourist who asked the cabbie to take him to Christ Church, that wonderful church on Park Avenue. The driver drove him to Saint Patrick’s!

“This isn’t Christ Church,” the agitated passenger yelled.

“Listen, buster,” the cabbie retorted, “I don’t know nothin’ about religion, but I do know that, here in New York, this is where Christ lives!”

Bravo! and, Christ does live there.

It’s one of the top attractions in our city. Between Thanksgiving and Epiphany (the Sunday after New Year’s Day) alone, over two million people come here. Each reports a sense of awe, a touch of the divine, a hint of God, a whisper of beyond.

Christmas is about the most sublime present of all: God the Father’s gift to us of His only Son, whose name is Jesus, and whose birth we celebrated on December 25th.

No wonder we give one another gifts at Christmas! We learned that from “Our Father.” How thrilled I am that so many consider Saint Patrick’s Cathedral one of the most memorable gifts of all, especially as it’s being unwrapped right now.

Far too many of us believe that the Christmas season ends on Christmas Day, when, in fact, it is really just beginning. May the Spirit of Christmas remain with us today and throughout the New Year!

Dolan is archbishop of New York. From his sermon Sunday at St. Patrick’s cathedral.

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