Wednesday, April 6, 2011

True Blue

“Blue Bloods” might give a nod to NYPD Catholicism, but for a shout-out, you had to be in the City last Sunday. The New York Police Department Holy Name Society honored service in its ranks, past and present, at its  93rd annual Communion Breakfast. Cardinal Egan’s Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral opened the celebration, followed by awards and fellowship at the Hilton. Of course, a parade led by bagpipes and drums strutted down 5th Avenue the long way from church to hotel, to the delight of residents and tourists alike. We were blessed with early spring weather, nippy but sunny.

I say “we,” since the Pauline Family—Society of St. Paul, Daughters, Sister Disciples, and Cooperators of New York—joined in the celebration for the first time. Sgt. Brian Reilly, commanding officer of the chaplain’s unit, and HNS President Jason Maggio arranged for us to serve 1,200 officers and their families through Pauline exhibits and a ten-minute presentation on Blessed James Alberione, our founder and model/intercessor for the media. Partway through the talk, I paused long enough for the media technicians to project the preview of the upcoming film on the massive screen behind me. (Scroll down at right to watch the preview everyone watched.)

With police commissioner Raymond Kelly, HNS President
Jason Maggio, NY Daily News columnist Denis Hamill,
and MC Desmond Stokes
I’ve shown that clip several times in the past fifteen months, but only the NYPD burst into applause—sustained applause. In fact, I had to “break it up” by resuming my remarks. And Alberione isn’t even Irish! That presentation, an intro-duction to Fr. Alberione, was also an introduction to the Pauline Family, since most had never heard of us before, in spite of our 79-year history in the Big Apple. A handful of women and men religious in a city of eight million can get overlooked.

The city can be justly proud of the saints and “saintables” who walked its streets, truly New York’s Finest: Mother Seton, Mother Cabrini, St. John Neumann, Pierre Toussaint, Dorothy Day, her friend Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Isaac Hecker, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Walter Ciszek, S.J., Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II (to be beatified next month), Cardinal Terence Cooke, and now, Blessed James Alberione. In fact, he and Venerable Thecla Merlo, the Daughters’ co-foundress, who is also up for beatification, visited New York several times and prayed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for their Pauline communities and for the people they served.

 Sgt. Brian Reilly keeps stride with
retired assistant chief Thomas Sweeney.
As the preview says, Alberione has something to say to our digital age. New York media professionals, educators, parents, clergy, and all those who dedicate themselves to the protection and sanity of an information rich and media saturated society—can find in Alberione a model and patron saint. His story needs to be told. How else will our young people know that there is an intercessor and model for them, as they work to build a media culture on faith and values or to discern their own vocation in such a world? How else will people discover that someone has paved the way for them to grow as faith-filled human beings in an ever more wired—and wireless—world?
Edward Cardinal Egan greets officers
after Mass. Go to my Facebook Wall
(Margaret Obrovac FSP)
for more photos.

Br. Peter Lyne, our Pauline brother with a book display there that day, told me that the one title he sold out of (and he had brought several copies) was When You Hurt. People in any helping profession, law enforcement included, understand human pain. The Pauline Family, which carries on the work of Alberione, demonstrates what he lived for—the conviction that media can and should be used for the good of the human heart and human society. People who work for justice get that.

A Sister Disciple of the Divine Master from County Westmeath, Ireland, now serving on Staten Island, was taken with the warm fraternity of the NYPD that day and their interest in the signs and symbols of faith, especially among the young men and women. Sr. Ann Breen said that “with so many distractions they can get discouraged.” So in her mission as a Sister Disciple, she told me, she prays for the safety of the police force, for guidance and wisdom as they go out every day, and especially for perseverance in faith.

 If people make good on their pledges toward the production of the film over the next two or three weeks, we'll be able to look forward to having raised $4,600 from this event. Legendary talk show host Joe Franklin offered to announce the campaign on his program on Bloomberg Radio this weekend. After fifty-five years on the air, he still has a loyal following, even though he claims he goes “way back, back to when the Dead Sea was still sick.”

With a little help from our friends, we’ll be hearing from police-related consultants and organizations as possibilities open up. With only about twelve months left in the campaign and still almost $50,000 to raise, we hope those possibilities surface soon!

Do you feel you would like to be part of this moviemaking venture? Click here to get updates and to make a contribution. A little incentive: Anyone who donates $1,000 will be listed in the credits at the end of the film. Or you can do that in memory of someone who has died, and that person’s name will be listed. Consider adding this project to your prayer intentions, so that it can be finished on schedule and it might do the good it’s meant to do. A prayer like that, guaranteed, will be reciprocated!


  1. Dear Sr. Margaret Obrovac,
    Bravo!!! Great job in the Archdiocese of New York with Cardinal Edward Egan, the New York Police Department Holy Name Society, benefactors and the Pauline Family in order to bring out the message of the our founder Primo Maestro Blessed James Alberione. Marie Louise updated me with the fantastic work accomplished last Sunday morning 3 April 2011 in Cathedral of St. Patrick and at Hilton Hotel NYC. Wishing you success in spreading the Good News through social communication media. St. Paul, pray for us for the blossoming of the mission entrusted to us through our baptism in Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
    Cheers--Margie, Pauline Cooperator NYC

  2. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Margie! May God "grow" all you do for the sake of the Kingdom.


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