Last month, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan visited CREATE, Inc., a multi-service organization established nearly 40 years ago by a Holy Name friar. Below, CREATE executive director Ralph Perez, an affiliated member of Holy Name Province, recounts details of the archbishop’s visit.
NEW YORK — On Nov. 8, I had the privilege of welcoming Archbishop Timothy Dolan to CREATE, Inc., the social services agency in Harlem. His visit was part of a tour of faith-based agencies providing services to the poor that are part of Catholic Charities’ vast federation.
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Catholic Charities executive director, accompanied the archbishop on his visit, along with two top Catholic Charities officials. Holy Name friars Benedict Taylor, OFM, CREATE founder and consultant, Jerome Massimino, OFM, a member and representative of CREATE’s Board of Directors, and Steven Pavignano, OFM, respresenting Vicar of Harlem Fr. Fred Pelagrini, S.J., also took part in the tour.
Archbishop Dolan, his secretary Fr. James Cruz and the entourage toured the CREATE administration offices and the CREATE outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Center, meeting the staff and speaking to the clients of the program.
After that, the group walked to the housing facility for single mothers and their children and CREATE’s Senior Citizen Program, where the archbishop talked with and encouraged the senior citizens. Then, Archbishop Dolan and I rode to CREATE Young Adult Center, on nearby West 128th Street.
The archbishop spent much time here touring this facility which provides transitional housing and supportive services to 50 homeless young adult males, ages 18 to 25.
During the course of his visit of the programs, he met New York City Fire Department chaplain Christopher Keenan, OFM. He is conducting a volunteer mentoring program at Create through which firefighters and businessmen assist the homeless young adults in their efforts to find jobs. A firefighter and a retired businessman were tutoring the clients at the time.
Winding down his visit, Archbishop Dolan attended lunch at the center. He conversed with the young adults, listened to their stories of homelessness and destitution and encouraged them in their endeavors. He was especially interested in their lives, since a story of a Create resident had been submitted by Catholic Charities and published as one of The New York Times Neediest Cases last year and another case been accepted again for this coming holiday season.
An article titled “Homeless but Hoping for a Return to College” about a 20-year-old resident of the CREATE shelter, appeared in the Nov. 12 issue of The New York Times. It mentions contributions from Catholic Charities, one of seven beneficiaries of the Neediest Cases Fund.
After lunch, goodbyes and blessings, Archbishop Dolan left to continue his other appointments in the archdiocese. He had generously visited CREATE from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
— Ralph Perez (above left), an affiliate of Holy Name Province, has worked at CREATE, Inc., for 37 years. In April 1992, he succeeded Benedict as the agency’s second executive director.