With St. Vincent de Paul safe from closure, Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan visited the nursing home to see the facility for the first time and to offer his blessing.
“What a joy and honor it is to be here today,” Archbishop Dolan said at the start of his homily in the nursing home chapel on Friday, July 16. “I have looked forward to it for a long time. I heard so many good things about the care and hospitality, and said I must visit now that we are more committed than ever to making sure St. Vincent de Paul stays here.”
According to nursing home officials, because of proposed cut backs in state Medicaid reimbursements, which provides most of funding for the center, St. Vincent de Paul was facing closure late last year. However, because of the efforts of several local elected officials, many of whom attended the mass Friday, and the efforts of the Catholic church, the facility is no longer threatened, officials said.
The facility was established in 1992, and since then it has provided a home for seniors in the Longwood area.
Friday’s visit was a chance
for the archbishop to meet the residents and tour the facility that he fought to save, St. Vincent de Paul administrator Milagros Santiago-Baez said.
“This is exciting. It is something so special and something that we really needed. It’s a blessing to have him here,” Santiago-Baez said, jokingly referring to Archbishop Dolan as “the Pope of New York”. “This archbishop shows leadership and care and he’s really down to earth. Our residents are so happy.”
About 50 residents came to pray and sing along at the mostly Spanish service.
Afterwards the archbishop walked all the floors and continued to meet most of the 200, primarily Catholic residents throughout the day.
“I love what I see,” Archbishop Dolan said, while walking the halls. “This is what the church is all about. It’s not at my desk. It’s right here with the people who touch Christ everyday. This is a booster shot for me.”
For Juan Vellon, his mother Teresa and his grandmother Carla Lopez, a four-year resident at the nursing home, the mass was a great occasion for the family to get together.
“I never come to church, but these people ain’t going to be here 40 or 50 years from now, so I’ve got to spend as much time as I got,” Vellon said.
It was the first time anyone in the family had met Archbishop Dolan, and when Teresa, who comes regularly to the mass, heard he was coming she said she made sure to bring her son.
During the service both Teresa and Lopez were touch and personally blessed by the archbishop. Afterwards they could barely find the words to express how they felt.
“Me encanta,” Lopez said.