John O’Connor Honors Fallen Firefighters at New York City Mass

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

NEW YORK — Holy Name Province’s leader participated in last month’s Holy Name Society Mass, an annual event held by the Fire Department of New York. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, concelebrated a 10:15 Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on March 30 and spoke at the communion breakfast, recognizing the work of the firefighters.

“It was a great day,” said John, who along with Christopher Keenan, OFM, FDNY chaplain, served as the main concelebrants with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Luis Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines.

“The church was filled to capacity, standing-room only,” John said. “At the end of Mass, Cardinal Dolan introduced me to the congregation of some 2,500 people and publicly thanked the friars of Holy Name Province for their great ministry to the people of the Archdiocese of New York. As the congregation applauded, I felt a great sense of pride for our friars.”

FDNYAfter the Mass, John and the firefighters processed to a nearby hotel, where approximately 750 firefighters and family members attended the communion breakfast.

Christopher recommended that John be the guest speaker at the annual Holy Name Society Communion Breakfast for the Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island division, John said.

The breakfast, held in memory of fallen FDNY members, honored Edward S. Kilduff, chief of department, and Thomas P. Lapolla, a retired firefighter of Ladder 80. During the breakfast, the Holy Name Society presented the Fr. Mychal Humanitarian Award, recognizing community service, to the members of Engine 50, Ladder 19. The award is named for Mychal Judge, OFM, who served as a FDNY chaplain from 1992 until 2001, when he died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. Eight scholarship awards were also presented during the breakfast.

“Our commissioner and chief of department and the fighters enjoyed John’s presentation,” Christopher said. “As a trained firefighter for 40 years, John spoke to them about the meaning and value of their work. You rarely find an ordained friar able to speak in firefighter language about what was, what is and what is yet to come. John andChristopher Coccia, OFM, are the only friars in the Province who are certified, lifelong active firefighters,” said Chris, who has been involved with the Holy Name Society since 2001 when he became FDNY chaplain. John was the first friar to speak at a Holy Name Society breakfast.

Chris, who in addition to his FDNY role is chaplain at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx, serves as one of two moderators of the Holy Name Society Scholastic awards. Each year on Sept. 11, Christopher celebrates a Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church for firefighters.

The National Association of the Holy Name Society is made of Archdiocesan and Diocesan Union Holy Name Societies from across the Unites States, Canada and Puerto Rico. According to the NAHNS’s website, the organization exists to support its members and members of parish Holy Name Societies; promote devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and to assist each other to grow in holiness.

 Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.