How I would like to have been in Manhattan on Sunday at Holy Innocents parish for their Patronal Feast!
Holy Innocents, once considered for the guillotine, was given a reprieve by His Eminence Timothy Card. Dolan. Many people expressed their dismay that such a vibrant – well-situated – church should close, especially because there you find the only daily Traditional Latin Mass in Manhattan. Attendance has been steadily growing and the community has achieved international fame.
It seems that, with promptings, Card. Dolan received their petitions favorably.
In the wake of all that drama, and the decision, Holy Innocents was assigned a new pastor. Hitherto, in the interim, the famous Fr. George Rutler has been the administrator, simultaneously taking charge of St. Michael’s in Hell’s Kitchen after he was moved from Our Savior on Park Avenue.
Now the people at Holy Innocents have a strong new hand to guide them, Fr. Len Villa, an outstanding priest whom I know. He is an exceptionally good choice for Holy Innocents.
It just goes to show how anxiety and deprivation, a desert experience, can lead to amazing new fruits.
But, wait! There’s more!
While the hidden decision making process for Holy Innocents was underway, the people of the parish were praying 54 Day Rosary Novenas. As a matter of fact, they started with the first one for the intention of the preservation of their parish. Silence. Then they did another, and then a third, which they concluded on 31 October. On 2 November, it was announced that Holy Innocents would stay open. At that point they started another 54 Day Rosary Novena for whomever was to be the pastor of the parish, changes or not. That Novena began on 3 November and ended on 26 December – 54 Days. As it happened, Fr. Villa’s appointment was dated 26 December, in time for the Patronal Feast on 28 December.
I detect the hand of Our Blessed Mother.
And now you know the rest of the story.
In any event, there are photos available of the Mass for the Patronal Feast, which is also when Fr. Villa presented his vision, his “battle plan”(!) for the parish. I’m impressed. Daily Rosary, reverence and adoration to the Eucharist, prayers for Priests, devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart, Confession, reparation to God.
I am told that part of the “battle plan” could be to make Holy Innocents into a center for CONFESSION.
Lots of great photos HERE and HERE
Fr. Villa, explaining the situation.
Fr. Villa’s sermon has been posted.
At the time I post it here, it has one 1 (one) view! I bet that’ll change.
He starts on the vision of the parish at about 5:30. Outstanding. He talks about consecrating the parish to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At about 10:00 he begins to explain reverence to the Eucharist, the Real Presence, especially through Adoration for the purpose of reparation. At 12:30 he gets to confession. Crisis of the Eucharist extends to the other sacraments. He often cites Ven. Pius XII in his sermon.
My heart is gladdened for the people at Holy Innocents. It is great to see some peace amongst the turbulence that these people have had to endure this year. Thank you Blessed Mother! Thanks be to God!
I was reading Peggy Noonan yesterday about the expected closing of her parish in NYC. In the black, produced 3 priestly vocations in the last 20 years, a nearly full school…
It is beyond comprehension.
Wow! I’d never heard of Fr. Villa before, but he’s wonderful. I grew up on the Upper West Side, and as soon as I heard his accent (usually found in parts of Manhattan, the Bronx or Queens) and what he was saying, I felt that the fading Church in NY will revive! Beautiful message, good news about Holy Innocents, and his appointment is really good news about the Church in NYC.
That is wonderful news, and a beautiful homily.
This is actually a pleasant surprise. While I’m sure Fr. Rutler was doing the best he could as a non-resident administrator, I am pleased to see that the archdiocese considered the parish important enough to have its own pastor. I love the term “battle plan.” Finally, I’d love to see Holy Innocents start an ongoing, friendly competition with the Franciscans at nearby St. Francis of Assisi to see which parish can reconcile the largest number of penitents.
Andrew, the last time I was at St Francis of Assisi, about a year ago, their confessions had been seriously reduced and they actually didn’t even have anybody “in the box” for good parts of the day. Have they improved since then? Or are there simply not enough Franciscans to staff it?
St Francis of Assisi was where you went in the middle of the night when you knew you’d made a serious mistake…
How lucky are they! A true officer of the Church Militant.
What a great man. What a great priest. Brick by brick as Father Z says. He gets it, how I wish all priests, all bishops got it. The mission stated simply and clearly. God bless him and his parishioners. Ad multos annos.
Our Lord has blessed His children of the Archdiocese of New York in providing them faithful shepherds like Fr. Rutler and Fr. Vossi; may we all humbly and gratefully acknowledge what priceless gifts He has given. As our prayers for their preservation and strength ascend to Our Lord through the intercession of His Blessed Mother, may these priests inspire many holy vocations, and may the Archdiocese raise many such beacons of the Faith to guide them safely through the intensifying afflictions to come.
Fr. Villa, even. Apologies.
Yes, this is a miracle. Yes, it was the Blessed Mother. And yes, it was the 54 day Rosary Novena.
This past summer, it looked like Holy Innocents was doomed, and after 20 years in one parish, Fr. Villa began a new assignment in the upper northern reaches of the archdiocese. And now look what’s happened! This great news brings tears of joy to my eyes – tears of gratitude that I can witness such a miracle. It lifts up my heart.
I am familiar with Fr. Villa. Above all else, he has always struck me as being a priest who is absolutely in love with the Priesthood. He has a deep devotion to the Mass, and a commitment to the “reform of the reform,” which includes Latin and the Extraordinary Form.
I can’t stress strongly enough what a tremendous idea it is to make Holy Innocents a center for confession, and that Fr. Villa would be THE priest who could make this happen. He is so well grounded scripturally, doctrinally, and with such good common sense that a person can discern Father’s answers and advice to be completely trustworthy.
Was the combination of Holy Innocents and Fr. Villa a match made in heaven? YES!
Let’s keep him and his parish in our prayers.
Thank you Father for the plug on the power of the 54-Day Rosary Novena. This is a weapon that everyone needs to learn of and do, including me.
Congratulations to all for this happy ending. This is unbelievable. I had just gotten a dear long-time family friend up there in the City to attend Holy Innocents and the bad news for that parish was depressing. My friend attended H.I. this past Christmas Day, and although he didn’t know the homilist, he said it was the best sermon he has ever heard in his life. Everybody needs H.I. to succeed.
My condolences to that parish that lost Fr. Villa however. :-\
holy innocents parishioners might like this homily i gave at the public mass at the passionist monastery in queens a few years ago. different… sort of poetic, invites contemplation…
There’s something I’d like you to consider about Mary,
as a mother.
She’s like the new mother who never really sleeps.
Always alert for the cry of that newborn lying in the crib in next room,
Sleep is a luxury she doesn’t allow herself.
Dante, the great Italian writer, understood this very wonderful thing about Mary: That she’s always “listening.”
In his Divine Comedy, Dante puts this prayer on the lips of St. Bernard:
“Thy charity doth not only lift up he who prays.
But in thy bounty’s large excess,
Thou oftentimes dost even forerun the prayer.”
Dante got it.
Even before we speak the words,
Before we ask for her help,
Mary is “listening.”
She’s been listening since the angel first told her not to be afraid.
And she’s never stopped.
So, today, I’m asking you to perhaps close your eyes while I talk to you.
Meditate with me on the Blessed Mother as she fled to Egypt to protect her child from the fate Herod would decree for Bethlehem’s smallest sons.
She was listening then, as she’s listening now…
Her son slept in her arms.
in that dead-to-the-world way, in which only children sleep.
His little stomach rose and fell with each breath.
She could rest now… but she remained awake
Conscious of the life that continued on her lap.
Other lives were ebbing.
On that calm night, the salt air of the seaside road filled her nostrils.
The fishermen would soon be moving along the harbor;
but for now, the world slept…
as she sat, awake.
On that calm night, who knew what evil was working its way through Herod’s mind.
The blood of innocents was running in the city of David.
In his Gospel, Matthew draws from the words of the prophet Jeremiah to evoke the pain of Bethlehem’s grieving mothers as Mary ran.
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping for her children.
She would not be comforted
because they’re no more.”
Did the muffled cries of those distraught, overtired mothers reach the coast where Mary–fleeing to Egypt–had stopped to rest?
Only the sound of waves lapping against Gaza’s shore.
Had they stopped crying?
No… Their throats were now so horse that they could no longer make a sound.
(whisper:) Mary… why are you awake?
Mother of mercy, you heard their cries.
Mother of the Redeemer, you hear our silence.
Mother of the poor, you hear as empty stomachs growl.
Mother of the marginalized, you hear the cries to which the modern world has made itself deaf.
Mother of the hopeless, you hear the prayer that’s never made.
Mother of Jesus,
On the road to Egypt, your sleepy son’s stomach rose and fell with each breath.
At the foot of the Cross, his body–stretched across your lap–was still.
Mother of joy,
Mother of sorrows,
Why are you awake?