The Journal News from White Plains, New York on March 16, 2008 · Page 12
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The Journal News from White Plains, New York · Page 12

White Plains, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Page 12
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From Page One 12A Sunday, March 16, 2008 The Journal News R i ! The Rev. Luke Sweeney, right, an Archdiocese hopes PRIESTS, from 1A a good thing if it forces New York's Catholic community to face ; the dire need for priests. "It is a wake-up call," Walsh ! said. "We have to do something. J I'm a believer that difficulties can be opportunities, not disasters. It ' depends on what you do with them." The hope across the archdiocese is that the visit by Pope Benedict will inspire young men to listen for God's call to the priesthood and rouse Catholic families to mention the priesthood around the dinner table. "His mission is really to encourage us in the faith, to strengthen us in our belief and commitment to Jesus Christ, make us better disciples," said the Rev. Luke Sweeney, vocations director for the archdiocese, who is preparing a major media campaign to promote the priesthood. "If he does that and that alone, vocations will come from it." But Sweeney hopes the pope will go a step further when he's speaking directly to New Yorkers. "I presume that the Holy Father will make an appeal to some of them, to say that 'God wants you to be priests,' " he said. That, coming from the pope, will mean a world of difference to young people." The number of diocesan priests in New York not including priests belonging to religious orders like the Franciscans has plummeted during the last 40 years from some 1,200 to only 648 today. Of the 648, 135 are retired and another 40 are 75 or older. That leaves only 473 priests and about 40 percent are between 65 and 75. Nationally, the number of diocesan priests has dropped from 36,000 in 1975 to 28,000 last year. But the number of seminarians, after falling sharply since the 1960s, has rebounded in the last decade to 3,300. Cardinal Edward Egan came to New York in 2000 with a track record of producing vocations in the Diocese of Bridgeport But the number of New York men entering the seminary has continued to fall, and it will apparently be up to Egan's successor to deal with the short- and long-term ramifications. Black leaders welcome Paterson PATERSON, from 1A he was there. This is the perfect time for someone like David Pater-son to take the position. I think you can get a lot more done with honey than you do with vinegar, so he's the right personality." Paterson's political credentials are clear evidence that he is eminently suited to take up the task, including the approaching budget deadline of April 1. "I think that, overall, hell bring in the budget," Sundiata Sadiq, a community activist from Ossining and former head of the Ossining NAACP, said. Sadiq acknowledged that Pater-son may have to make some unpopular fiscal decisions, but said: "I think he has that sensitivity to understand what's going on in our communities, that we can't really afford to have that happen. And some of our social programs, I think hell fight for, but I'm sure he'll have to make some kind of compromises also. And that's a hell of a test to put somebody through." The black community believes Paterson will rise to the challenge. Across the state, there is a surge of pride in Paterson, a longtime lawmaker and heir to a Harlem political dynasty. Q : J G v" Q Q 0 A - D j, J J (V Irvington native, poses with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, center, and fjr ' j " ' ' v" ; f wtff' ;r;v Jt LtA imiMWIIIiflfWn II 111 Mil IIMI I I Mark VergariThe Journal News Seminarian Brian Graebe of Freehold, N.J., is one of the few students studying to be a priest in the Archdiocese of New York at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers. In big-city archdioceses like New York, the seriousness of the priest shortage tends to get covered up because priests just work harder and longer, even though they are more isolated than ever before, said Dean Hoge, a professor of sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. "You can muddle through with one priest for many, many Catholics," said Hoge, a leading expert on the priest shortage. "But it's still a monster problem. There is no way we can continue to go ahead much longer with parish life as we know it when there are so few priests and so many Catholics." With the Vatican unwilling to consider the possibility of ordaining women or letting priests marry, American dioceses are gradually expanding ministries run by laypeople. But more priests will eventually be needed simply to administer sacraments, Hoge said. That Paterson ascends to office in the wake of Spitzer's being embroiled in a federal probe of a high-priced prostitution ring will not hinder his leadership, Edmonson and Aldridge believe. "I think once he begins to implement and announce some of his own initiatives, the cloud will disappear," Aldridge said. "We have long memories, but short memories when it comes to when we see progress. So the cloud is just like any storm cloud; it comes and once it has rained and the sun begins to shine, you forget that you had clouds." Edmonson said the best way for Paterson to firmly establish himself as a capable governor in his own right is to execute the campaign promises that led him and Spitzer to such a sweeping victory, but to be his own man. "I think normally the electorate has a short memory and once David starts to do the job that we expect him to do, he'll make strides, and that's pretty much what we'll be focusing on in the minority community," she added. "From what I've read or understood about David, even though he's a party guy, he has a mind of his own. He doesn't strike me as a guy who just goes along to just go along. In today's climate, with the papal visit inspires "The Catholic Church keeps growing because of immigrants," he said. The Roman Catholic Church believes that people are called to vocations family life, single life, religious life, the priesthood by God. But many insist that the frenetic pace of modern life, combined with a growing social emphasis on individualism and secularism, may drown out God's call or discourage young men from listening. "I think the odds are stacked against us in the age in which we live, more than in any other age," said Brian Graebe, 27, from Stat-en Island, a Theology I student at St Joseph's. "We have a tough battle. How do we counter all of these trends that are working against this timeless message, this august call to the priesthood? The message is there, it's strong, it speaks for itself. We just have to allow them to hear it." New York's Irish community whole change mantra ... I think people are sick of the same old politics, and I think David knows that, even though he's a parry loyalist." The 53-year-old Paterson will be New York's first black and legally blind governor. His father, Basil, a former state senator representing Harlem and later New York's first black secretary of state, was part of a political fraternity that included fellow Democrats U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins the city's first black mayor and former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton. Sadiq said it was heartening that Paterson appeared to be a genuine, likeable, level-headed man who was not expected to make the same mistakes as Spitzer or other politicians for whom sex scandals have been their downfall. "I don't think he has that kind of arrogance. I've always known him as a brother that has his charisma and power, but humble and just ordinary, and a family man," he said. "I don't think he would fall into that kind of thing." Paterson's success despite his disability shows that he is a force to be reckoned with, said Edmon- some classmates after a seminary has provided the vast majority of parish priests for 200 years. Part of the problem facing the archdiocese is that an estimated 40 to 50 percent of Catholic New Yorkers are now Hispanic, but Hispanic communities are not producing priests. Alex Reyes, 24, of the Bronx, a third-year seminarian who comes from the Dominican Republic, said many Hispanic young men have told him they might be interested in becoming priests if not for one thing. "1 know a lot of young Hispanic guys who are very interested in the priesthood, but to tell you the truth, the big problem is celibacy," Reyes said. "That is the main reason they hold off." The Archdiocese of New York is home to at least 2.5 million Catholics. If you take away the half who are women, and people under 18 and over 65 using U.S. Census percentages that still leaves about 800,000 Catholic males in the archdiocese. mii New York Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson annual Inner Circle Dinner yesterday son, who hoped for a similarly fa- vorable outcome for another ris- ing star this year. "In my estimation, I am hoping now that we have our first black governor ... followed by, maybe, a Submitted by the Rev. Luke Sweeney class in 2000 in Rome. vocations On The Web Visit NYPRIEST.COM, the Web site of the vocations office of the Archdiocese of New York Sweeney figures that the archdiocese needs only about 20 new seminarians each year. "It would give us a good number to supply the parishes with future priests," he said. New York is a particular challenge, Sweeney said, because many obstacles to hearing God's call secularism, relativism, hedonism, immature faith are more accepted, even promoted, than in other parts of the country. "If people are not convinced of their Catholic faith, that this is something true and worthy, why would someone want to give up a wife, children, a place of their own, for a 247 job?" he said. This is where Pope Benedict comes in. He is visiting the U.S., in part, to inspire the faithful. The Rev. Michael Morris, professor of church history at St. Joseph's, said that he was among many seminarians during the 1980s who became sure of their call after Pope John Paul IPs visit in 1979. "I discovered when I got to seminary, that I wasn't alone," he said. "Other guys felt the same way that I did. Hopefully, this will happen as a result of this papal visit. Hopefully we'll be filled again someday." Sweeney has been preparing a major media campaign to promote the priesthood that will be rolled out after the papal visit. A series of Madison Avenue-quality posters and a new Web site trumpet the slogan "Die World Needs Heroes." They leave out the "churchy" language of past campaigns and offer something of a challenge. One poster, showing three groups of smiling, confident priests from different generations, says: "The priesthood is tough and it's for real men. You have to be a real man if you want to become a priest." Reach Gary Stern at or 914-694-3513. 4 - 'irViHn David KarpThe Associated Press arrives at a reception for the 86th In Manhattan. first black president It might be a clean sweep this year," she said, Reach Suzan Clarke at or 845-578-2414. Toll hikes start on bridges, tunnels The Associated Press NEW YORK Starting today, motorists will be paying more to use many of New York's bridges and tunnels. At 3 a.m., cars crossing the Ver-razano Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island will be charged $10, up from $9. Drivers using E-ZPass will pay $8.30, up from $8. That toll is only in one direction. The millions of extra dollars raised will help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority cover the rising costs of maintenance and repair. Cash customers will pay $5 to cross the Triborough Bridge in each direction, up from $4.50. That toll also applies to the White-stone Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. The E-ZPass rate will be $4.15. The MTA also has raised tolls at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge. Also facing higher tolls are motorcycles, trucks, buses and recreational vehicles. Earlier this month, Port Authority tolls went up, as did fares on subways, buses and commuter rail systems. ' For more information on the MTA tolls, go to bandtfrafficbtmain.htm. Thruway toll Increases are planned as well People can speak out next month on the New York State Thruway Authority's plan to raise tolls 5 percent in 2009 and 2010 on the 641-mile highway and the Tap-pan Zee Bridge. The agency has scheduled a public hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. April 3 at the Adler Room in the Palisades Center, 1000 Palisades Center Drive, West Nyack. The Thruway Authority says it needs the extra money to maintain and run the highway. TZ deck panel on tap to be replaced BRIDGE, from 1A out and replaced after the winter. "Structural integrity was not a problem," Mehta said last week. "We decided right there itself that it would be placed temporarily but they would have to remove it" Mehta said the contractor would be responsible for the additional cost associated with the new panel, including installation and removal. He pegged it at $75,000. Lower Hudson Valley drivers, a little nervous to hear that a deck panel would be taken out so soon after it was installed, supported the Thruway Authority's decision. "You pay for something new, you should get something new," said Congers resident Jack Grana-ta, who crosses the bridge daily. Granata compared it to buying a new car. If he went to pick it up and found a scratch or a small dent on it that was put there by the dealer, he'd demand another car. Thomas Sullivan said issues like this occurred on big projects. "If checks and balances are in place that this stuff is getting caught, then this is good news," said Sullivan, a Pearl River resident who works as a business analyst in Purchase. "What's the big deal if it doesn't delay the project and it's not costing us money?" Sullivan said bringing the deck replacement project to a halt to wait for another panel would not have served anyone's interest The deck replacement project has been plagued by a series of false steps. It started three months later than expected because of delays with manufacturing the deck panels. In late September, work on the project shut down because trucks carrying the panels from a New Jersey plant to Rockland were not the right size to carry the weight they were hauling, and posed a safety risk on the road. And in December, a driver who took the wrong Thruway exit had a 63-ton panel slide off his flatbed truck onto the intersection of Routes 59 and 9W early on a Saturday morning, closing the intersection for more than nine hours. The project resumed last week, and Mehta said soon two crews would be used to install the panels one for the bridge's causeway and one for its main span. Meanwhile, a decision about whether to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge is expected in May. Reach Khurram Saeed at or 845-578-2412.

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