Pulaski Day Parade

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is an iconic New York and national landmark.  Its cornerstone was laid on the Solemnity of the Assumption on August 15, 1858. Construction was halted during the Civil War but resumed in 1865 and was completed in 1878. On the date of its dedication on May 25, 1879, it was far outside the most populous part of the city, near Battery Park. Butut all that has changed:  Now St. Patrick’s is in the heart of New York City.

After getting a few hours sleep at the rectory of St. Peter’s Church in Lower Manhattan, I drove up to the Cathedral in Midtown and arrived before the 7:00 A.M. Mass. Fr. Andrew King, the Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa and commended the work of Human Life International and the From Ocean Defense of Life to Ocean Pilgrimage at the Mass. All the priests spoke about respect for human life on this Respect Life Sunday.

I met with some of the Sisters of Life and Dr. Kathleen Wither, the new Respect Life Director of the Archdiocese of New York, after the 8:00 A.M. Mass. After venerating the icon, they assured me of their prayers for the success of the mission.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami offered the 9:00 A.M., Mass which was well attended by Polish-Americans who gathered to celebrate their faith and heritage at the 76th Annual Pulaski Day Parade.  Brigadier General Kazimierz Pułaski was a Polish nobleman and soldier who came to fight for freedom during the American Revolution.  He is called the “Father of the American Cavalry” and is credited with saving the life of George Washington. He was mortally wounded from the blast of a canon in a heroic charge during the Siege of Savannah, Georgia.

In his homily, which he gave mostly in Polish, Archbishop Wenski encouraged the people to be faithful to their spiritual heritage to build a better world and with respect for human life, to maintain their Catholic faith and strong relationship with God and invoke the intercession of she who was chosen as the Queen and Advocate of the our nation, Mary, Mother of Christ the Lord.

After the Mass, I attended the annual breakfast for the 2013 Pulaski Day Parade.  Among the several speakers was Archbishop Wenski, who gave the Invocation and Benediction.  The highlight for me was when Helena Kalitka sang Boze Cos Polska (God Save Poland) and God Bless America.

The icon remained in the sanctuary through the 10:30 A.M. Mass.  Our Lady was then brought to a place of honor where Archbishop Wenski, Msgr. Robert Ritchie, Rector of the Cathedral, and several members of the Parade Committee reviewed the Pulaski Day Parade. Many groups and floats that marched celebrated both their ethnic heritage and Catholic faith with pictures of Blessed Pope John Paul II and images of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  One group carried a banner saying No to Abortion. No to Euthanasia.  Many people stopped to reverence Our Lady and to receive holy cards with her image.

After the parade, I retrieved the vehicle to transport Our Lady, but had trouble closing the electric doors! I was finally able to close them after about 25 minutes and met Fr. Miroslaw Krol and Archchbishop Wenski.  The Linden, New Jersey Police gave us an escort through heavy traffic on 42nd Street, the Lincoln Tunnel and the New Jersey Turnpike to St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church in Linden, where a large crowd waited to greet us.  After Archbishop Wenski offered the Mass in Polish,, Fr. Krol hosted a delicious Polish dinner for Archbishop Wenski, the priests and seminarians.  It had been a full, exhausting yet good day!

Fr. Peter West
Vice President for Missions
Human Life International

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