An Easter miracle?

A few items:

1. What do you call it when an active member of a large Pentecostal church in New City collapses during an Easter service, loses his pulse and heartbeat and is revived at the emergency room of Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern?

As my colleague Jane Lerner reports, some are calling it an Easter miracle, a resurrection.

2. I wondered a couple of weeks ago whether new talk of immigration reform in Washington would inspire religious leaders in New York and elsewhere to join the debate. There have been stirrings (not to mention that big march in D.C.).

An interfaith group called the The Faith and Public Policy Roundtable is holding a forum on immigration on Wednesday, April 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Ceremonial Hall at the Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan.

tjndc5-5k7d0c6swlz10mutxarb_layoutThe panelists will be: Rabbi Michael Paley, Scholar in Residence and Director of the Jewish Resource Center at UJA-Federation of New York; Bishop Robert Rimbo of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (that’s him); and Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

3. When Cardinals O’Connor and Egan were nearing the end of their tenures, there was much talk about whether New York could see an Hispanic archbishop. But we keep getting Irishmen.

LA, though, is a different matter. The nation’s largest archdiocese may already be mostly Hispanic (New York is probably close, but no one really knows).

ab_gomez_100So it’s no surprise that B16 has chosen a Latino bishop, Jose Gomez, the archbishop of San Antonio, as next in line for LA. Cardinal Roger Mahony will reach retirement age, 75, next February.

I went to a gathering of religion writers a few years ago in San Antonio (yes, we toured the Alamo, which was surprisingly — at least to me — small). We had a brief meeting with Gomez, who was warm and funny, the kind of guy you like right away. He won the group over without much effort.

He’s also a member of Opus Dei, which is kind of interesting. And he’s only 58 (2 years younger than Tim Dolan), so he could be an important national figure for quite some time.

The big Catholic story

I should have mentioned this before now, but…

Fordham U’s Lincoln Center campus is hosting a very interesting and timely forum TONIGHT called “Becoming Latino: The Transformation of U.S. Catholicism.”

We all know that the Catholic Church in the U.S. is quickly becoming an Hispanic church, but how much attention has been given to what this really means?

When I attended a catechetical convention put on by the Archdiocese of NY last year at the Westchester County Center, it was immediately apparent that most of the catechists there were Hispanic.

But there seems to be an unwitting quasi-segregation in much of the church. You have largely white parishes and largely Hispanic parishes. Many parishes have English-speaking Masses and separate Spanish-language Masses for Hispanics.

People still think of the Catholic Church in New York as an Irish church, but it really isn’t anymore.

When Archbishop Dolan got to New York, he said several times that there is a perception that the Catholic Church faces a “Hispanic problem” or “Hispanic challenge.” He refuted this notion, of course.

Here’s the line-up for tonight: Luis Lugo, director, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life; Claudio Burgaleta, S.J., coordinator, Latino studies program, Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, Fordham University; Arturo J. BaƱuelas, pastor, St. Pius X Church, El Paso, Texas; and Maria Odom, executive director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Washington, D.C.

The moderator will be Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J., executive director, Office for Cultural Diversity in the Church, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It’s 6-8 p.m. The Lincoln Center campus is at 113 West 60th Street.

The new guy on stage

Initial thoughts from the press conference with Archbishop Dolan:

1. On the way out, someone said to me “He can own this town.” I have to agree. Dolan is so engaging that people will eat him up. He said the best year of his life was 1964, when he was 11 and Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were chasing the home run record.

He wasn’t a Yankee fan, but hey, that’s great stuff.

2. Surrounded by dozens of TV cameras, Dolan looked as at home as one can possibly be. But he doesn’t try to present himself as, well, regal. He laughs loud and easy and doesn’t mind looking a bit flustered when there are people buzzing around him.

3. Asked about taking on Obama, Pelosi, etc. over abortion and other life issues, Dolan wasn’t exactly evasive. But he wasn’t specific. He didn’t want to linger on it. He said he would look to the examples set by Cardinal George in Chicago and Pope B16 and talked about “engagement” and being “conciliatory.”

4. He was very direct about assuring the priests of New York that he will be there for them. Clearly, Dolan must know that morale among the priests of NY is not great. (I got an email from a priest this morning saying: “To quote Etta James…AT LAST!”

5. He described the growth of Hispanic Catholics as a gift. He said that he has heard others refer to the “Hispanic problem,” but he doesn’t see a problem.

6. Dolan said that he already talked this morning to some Jewish, Protestant and Orthodox leaders by telephone, indicating that ecumenical and interfaith stuff will be important to him. He mentioned this, in fact, during his brief comments before taking questions.

7. He went out of his way to make Cardinal Egan feel at home. After Egan said something about maintaining a public presence in NY if invited, Dolan jumped in: “You’re hired.”

8. He is 59 and could be here for a long time — and he knows it. He said that he relishes the blessing of “spending the rest of my life — whatever years God grants me — as your pastor, neighbor and, please God, as your friend.

9. I got in the last question and asked him about his forthrightness in Milwaukee about the Big Problems that the church faces: cradle Catholics leaving the church, people becoming more secular. He answered that the church has to be “realistic” and must face some difficult challenges that are confronting all faiths.

10. His cheeks get kind of rosy when he’s worked up.

Hispanic Catholics will teach future generations

I spent a few hours at the Archdiocese of New York’s big “Catechetical Convocation” on Saturday at the Westchester County Center and one thing was immediately clear.

The “Irish church” that once was in New York is becoming — or has become — an “Hispanic church.”

Some 2,000 educators — people who teach in parish education programs around the archdiocese — came to the convocation. They came for spiritual nourishment and to learn how to become better teachers.

No one was counting the ethnicity of those present, but I would guess that more than half of those in attendance were Hispanic. Maybe way more than half. It would have been easy to step inside the County Center (home to so many reptile shows and used computer shows) and think that it was some sort of Hispanic gathering.

Taking things further, the vast majority of white people in attendance were old-timers. But I saw lots of Hispanic teens and 20-somethings, some of whom seemed to tag along with their parents or their siblings– to an all-day catechetical conference.

hermana-glenda-2-730685.jpgI mentioned in my article that the archdiocese’s Catechetical Office, which ran the show, was smart enough to invite Sister Hermana Glenda, a guitar-strumming nun who is incredibly popular in Spain and Latin America. She sang in Spanish and English and brought down the house (quietly).

Boy, was she good. A powerful presence in a gray habit. And a new voice for a “new” Catholic Church in New York.