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For St. Patrick's New Rector, an Old Rite: Making Crosses of Ash (Great Photo Essay!)
NY Times ^ | March 2, 2006 | Michael Luo

Posted on 03/03/2006 10:38:48 AM PST by NYer

The Rev. Robert T. Ritchie, the freshly appointed rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, woke up at 3 a.m. in his old rectory in the Bronx yesterday to make sure he made it to Ash Wednesday services at his new church on time.

"I couldn't take any chance that I'd be late," he said.

A few weeks ago, in a move that surprised many in the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Edward M. Egan moved Father Ritchie, 60, from a parish in Kingsbridge Heights to St. Patrick's Cathedral, one of the nation's most exalted houses of worship.

For a priest who has spent most of his career of more than 30 years in impoverished parishes in Washington Heights and the Bronx, the change could hardly have been more striking.

"In a hundred years, I never would have thought this would happen," he said.

He had not even moved into his new quarters near St. Patrick's, but Father Ritchie found himself thrust yesterday into the midst of the cathedral's most crowded day of the year by far. Although no one takes a count, church officials estimate that more than 40,000 people, including many out-of-towners, wend their way through the cathedral's doors to receive the traditional black smudges in the shape of a cross on their foreheads.

By contrast, the holy day was a humbler affair at Father Ritchie's last parish, Our Lady of Angels, where Ash Wednesday typically attracted about 1,800 people from the neighborhood.

Ash Wednesday is only the beginning of the busiest season in the Catholic calendar, the period of fasting and repentance known as Lent, which culminates after 40 days on Easter Sunday.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; History; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Worship
KEYWORDS: ashwednesday; cathedral; ny; nyc; rector; stpatricks

"In a hundred years, I never would have thought this would happen," Father Ritchie said of his move to St. Patrick's from a parish in Kingsbridge Heights.


Moving at a steady clip but always being careful to etch the full image of a cross, Father Ritchie touched thousands of foreheads.


Father Ritchie blessed Lauren Serle, 4, who has cancer. Lauren's mother brought her from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for the service.


Father Ritchie's post as rector of St. Patrick's had been empty since August, when the previous rector resigned.

1 posted on 03/03/2006 10:38:54 AM PST by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...

The Rev. Robert T. Ritchie, the new rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, prayed during Ash Wednesday services, which draw about 40,000 people.


As rector, Father Ritchie is responsible for the day-to-day running of St. Patrick's Cathedral, a gothic landmark.

2 posted on 03/03/2006 10:40:27 AM PST by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: NYer

Whoa! Next time I'm in NYC, I've got to go to St. Patrick's! I've seen pictures of it before, but these are something else!


3 posted on 03/03/2006 10:45:34 AM PST by Pyro7480 (Sancte Joseph, terror daemonum, ora pro nobis!)
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To: NYer

Can't tell you how much I enjoyed those pictures. Thank you so much.


4 posted on 03/03/2006 10:47:33 AM PST by Bahbah (An admitted Snow Flake and a member of Sam's Club)
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To: Bahbah; Pyro7480
Though not part of this particular photo essay, here's a spectacular interior shot.


This cross is on the main alter of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, N.Y; the Great Rose stained glass window is in the background. Construction on the cathedral began in 1858, and was completed in May, 1879. The cathedral is the largest gothic-style Catholic Cathedral in the United States. It seats about 2,200 people and has over 3 million visitors every year.

5 posted on 03/03/2006 11:42:54 AM PST by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: NYer

Absolutely beautiful.


6 posted on 03/03/2006 11:53:12 AM PST by Bahbah (An admitted Snow Flake and a member of Sam's Club)
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To: Pyro7480

Is St. Pat's where they bless the animals. I think so and it was on TV one year. They had the usually pets, a few large snakes, zoo animals, a giraffe, I think, and a lion, and then, at the end the procession, an elephant trumpeted the altar and knelt down. My Methodist husband was very impressed. "You shouldn't wouldn't see that in a Protestant Church."


7 posted on 03/03/2006 3:52:25 PM PST by Mercat (I trust my President)
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To: NYer

Wonderful post. My wife (convert) made her Confirmation in St. Pats in 1956.

At Christmas they had harpests playing on the main altar. I do not know what goes today.

I have not been there in 30 years.


8 posted on 03/03/2006 5:58:25 PM PST by franky (Pray for the souls of the faithful departed.)
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To: NYer
My baby brother was baptized in St. Pat's!

I remember, my Aunt and Uncle (my Ma's sister + brother in law) were supposed to be the godparents. But they didn't show up! My brother was getting to be a big baby, and he needed to be baptized.

So one day my Mother got us all dressed up and made my Father drive us the 45 minutes to Manhattan. She just walked up to St. Patrick's Cathedral and demanded they baptize her baby.

They were quite shocked of course. No arrangements had been made, and there were no godparents. My Mother started yelling, so they called the Archbishop's secretary to talk to her. He said he wasn't going to do it. But my Father said, "well, Jesus would do it." So the poor priest gave in, and he grabbed one of his assistants to be godfather.

Needless to say, my Ma wasn't a good Catholic (my Dad isn't Catholic at all,) and we (my brother included) weren't raised practicing the Faith. But regardless of the wisdom of their decision, I still have a great deal of affection for the priests of the Cathedral, not just because they baptized my brother, but also because they once dealt with the crazy antics of the Grande Dame who is my Mother.
9 posted on 03/04/2006 7:05:08 AM PST by Lilllabettt
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To: NYer; All
File under "should I laugh or should I cry?" Department.

For Third Year, "Ashes" Named Favorite Catholic Sacrament

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For the third year, ashes comes in tops as favorite Catholic sacrament.

BOSTON -- For the third year in a row, the ashes received during the Ash Wednesday service was listed in an ABC-News/Washington Post poll as most Roman Catholic's favorite sacrament, topping both communion and baptism.

"There is just something about receiving those ashes that makes me feel, well alive," said Katie Stanbury, a lobbyist with Phelps/Dawson Public Relations. "I miss mass quite a bit, but I never, ever miss this service."

Fr. Allen Bannion, of St. Peter Claver Church in Boston, said that the Ash Wednesday service is always standing room only. "People just love that service, as well as the one for Palm Sunday. We always have more people there than any other time of year," he said. "Yeah, people come on Sunday for communion, but at these services they get a little something extra. It is sort of like Bonus Days at the Clinique counter, when you not only get the perfume you went in to purchase, but a kick-ass red lipstick, as well. Or so I've been told."

Maggie Oliver, a retired schoolteacher, said her favorite sacraments are baptism and confirmation. "It's a great chance to take some pictures and see relatives I haven't seen in awhile. Oh, plus we all go out to eat afterwards, which is fun," she said.

Other favorite sacraments listed, in order, included: 2) baptism, 3) "that day when we get to bring in our pets for blessings" 4) communion (if viewed as a symbol only) 4) annulment 5) Confirmation and 6) marriage.

According to the poll, Roman Catholics have different interpretations on what the word sacrament means. Responses given included: "a symbol," "something that makes you feel happy, blessed or relieved," "a church function or practice" or "a tradition."

Kenny Daniels said he thinks so much of the Ash Wednesday service that when he arrived late last night, he simply left. "I could have stayed for communion, but I came for the ashes," he said. "So, I just went to Starbuck's instead. Oh well, there's always next year."

posted by Maureen Martin @ 3:35 PM  

10 posted on 03/04/2006 10:12:29 AM PST by Frank Sheed ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." ~GK Chesterton.)
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To: Frank Sheed
"should I laugh or should I cry?"

You should have a big laugh. It's a parody piece.

11 posted on 03/04/2006 11:14:12 AM PST by Nihil Obstat
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To: Nihil Obstat

A young friend is studying for the Diaconate and is now doing his pastoral work. He was assigned to CCD classes on the spur of the moment. He began the class by asking the students to say a prayer that they had memorized. One student pointed out that "we usually just read something from this book." He said, "no, we are going to say a prayer you have memorized." After going through a laundry list of popular prayers, it struck him that the class as a whole did not know ONE prayer from memory. That apparently included the Our Father.

The piece may be a parody, but it is closer to the Truth than we'd care to admit, N.O.

Frank


12 posted on 03/04/2006 11:52:29 AM PST by Frank Sheed ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." ~GK Chesterton.)
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To: Frank Sheed

That's pathetic. I wonder if the former CCD teacher knew any prayers. God bless the young Deacon. Saint Lawrence pray for him.

http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintl02.htm


13 posted on 03/04/2006 12:19:15 PM PST by Nihil Obstat
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To: Nihil Obstat; All; NYer

http://www.catechismclass.com/

I heard about this on EWTN last Thursday night, I believe. I checked it out extensively and have sent the URL on to a whole slew of people. Note that Frs. Levis and Trijilio are on the board of directors. The whole idea was spurred by the USCCB report by Archbishop Hughes decrying our catechetical programs at all levels. His recommendation was to "blow things up and start over" in so many words.

F


14 posted on 03/04/2006 12:29:03 PM PST by Frank Sheed ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." ~GK Chesterton.)
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To: Frank Sheed; Nihil Obstat
After going through a laundry list of popular prayers, it struck him that the class as a whole did not know ONE prayer from memory. That apparently included the Our Father.

Dittos on NO's comment - 'pathetic'. This is truly a sad state of affairs.

Since both of you are online right now, I'm hoping you can enlighten me on something. Last night our parish began its Lenten 'Stations of the Cross'. Father was under the impression that many local parishes were not holding this devotional and he agreed to run an ad in the diocesan newspaper.

The turnout was better than usual for our parish but still pitiful. However, there was a new face in the last pew, which brought consolation.

The Stations prepared by Father was extremely moving. I'll have to borrow the book and reprint several of the meditations. It lasted an hour. Afterwards, I extened my hand to the casually dressed newcomer and thanked him for joining us. He smiled, said he enjoyed it and identified himself as a priest. He is from the Boston Diocese and is being transferred to Albany but has not yet received his parish appointment. Is this normal? It's not like Boston has a surplus of priests that they can afford to lose one. He is also enthralled with Bishop Hubbard and 'thanks God' for him. I'm confused.

15 posted on 03/04/2006 12:49:59 PM PST by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: NYer
The Stations prepared by Father was extremely moving. I'll have to borrow the book and reprint several of the meditations.

Please do, that would be great.

He is from the Boston Diocese and is being transferred to Albany but has not yet received his parish appointment. Is this normal?

maybe he is from a religious order??

He is also enthralled with Bishop Hubbard and 'thanks God' for him. I'm confused.

If he is enthralled with your bishop maybe he is confused. :-P

16 posted on 03/04/2006 2:27:40 PM PST by Nihil Obstat
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To: Nihil Obstat; Frank Sheed
The Stations prepared by Father was extremely moving. I'll have to borrow the book and reprint several of the meditations.
Please do, that would be great.

It was very much in the approach of Cardinal Ratzinger last year, before the death of JPII. To cite an example - Jesus is Stripped of His Garments - the meditation focuses on the humiliation, but especially the pain our Lord suffered when these garments were stripped because they had adhered to the torn flesh and (he did not acutally use this word) coagulated blood, thus tearing off His flesh. (Up until last night, I had never contemplated this excrutiating aspect of our Lord's Passion). The accompanying prayer asks our Lord to help us 'strip away' our sinful nature. The Stations culminated with Father and two acolytes (vested in chasuble and surplice) standing before the Crucifix, incensing it and bowing profoundly, as we chanted a well known Maronite hymn - O My Son. Here are the words:

O My Son O My beloved
See the plight Love brings you to
What distress and What affliction
Wicked men have Laid on you.
O My Son O what transgression
Oh what evil Did you do that you
Should be vexed and wounded
with no hope for any cure.

Look on me, Daughter of Zion
Crushed beneath this mighty wave
Anguish fills my very marrow
And it leads me to the grave
There is none to be a friend now
And this angry mob to brave,
Coming forward to console me
For the suff'ring I endure.

maybe he is from a religious order??

Interesting; I had not considered that. Actually my mind did a rapid flashback to the 'underground railroad' that ran between these two dioceses during the 80's when they exchanged priests. One in particular was convicted of child sexual abuse.

If he is enthralled with your bishop maybe he is confused. :-P

More like "birds of a feather" .... if you follow my drift. It was immediately apparent that he is 'light in the loafers', and will fit perfectly in this diocese. He had been here in December to attend the Bishop's dinner for priests and remembered my pastor. Father, however, had a bit more difficulty in placing this priest's face and recalling the dinner. I was reluctant to leave Father alone with him ;-).

17 posted on 03/04/2006 3:42:51 PM PST by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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