By Fr. George Rutler

The beloved parish in Hell’s Kitchen NY

September 11, 2019
Column: From the Pastor

It is gratifying each week to hear from many friends of the parish across our country and abroad, bringing to mind the words of John Wesley: “The whole world is my parish.” That can be said ever more fervently by any pastor, for each parish is a microcosm of the ecclesiastical presence of the Body of Christ on every continent, as it bears witness to the Universal Faith that makes the Church “katholikos.” So distant readers will indulge some reflections on our local parish scene, as the summer draws to a close.

These past months were something of a surprise in that there seemed to be no significant slowdown in parish life. While many of our own people did travel outside the city, which is no little adventure for Manhattanites, we had many national and international visitors.

Because the social media have made our world a “global village,” it seemed that most visitors were not strangers, and many were already familiar with life here. We have an increasing number of tourists stopping in at the church—almost constantly—and this may in part be due to the renovations and installations of art completed during the summer. We must make an effort to welcome our visitors and help them to learn more about the parish.

Our church already has one foot in the Heavenly City, where there are no seasons, at least in the sense that we have no air conditioning. (Our heating system is not always reliable either, and I have occasionally warmed my hands over the thurible on winter days when there was no heat at all.)

This summer we had some brutal hot spells, and one Sunday the city issued a health advisory cautioning the frail and elderly against going outdoors. That was the first time in memory that we eliminated the homily at the Masses, and I had the impression that no one objected. But I was impressed as well at the numbers of people who came stoically on humid days and indeed in good spirits—just as in past winters there was patience when heavy clothing was needed. Here in “Hell’s Kitchen” we are a durable people.

This Sunday, September 8, is the 38th anniversary of my priestly ordination. It was a simple ceremony in the cathedral’s Lady Chapel. The three prelates who were at the altar with me on that day, including Cardinal Cooke, are no longer in this world, but they are invoked at each Mass, along with all those who since the middle of the nineteenth century have been part of this parish, which now enters challenging and promising times. “Memento, Domine, famulorum, famularumque tuarum et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est et nota devotio . . . Remember, O Lord, Thy servants and handmaids and all here present, whose faith and devotion are known to Thee.”


Fr. George W. Rutler, S.T.D., is a brilliant scholar, author, convert, former pastor of Our Saviour in Midtown Manhattan, the closest Catholic parish near the site of 9-11, and now pastor of St Michael’s parish in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. A donation of any amount may be made to the parish at:

View Articles Father Rutler was ordained to the diaconate in Rome by His Eminence William Cardinal Baum in 1980 and received priestly ordination in St. Patrick's... MORE »

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