The archbishop of New York will celebrate mass at a maximum security state prison in Ulster County to mark the golden anniversary of the facility's chapel.
New York City Cardinal Timothy Dolan is set to visit Eastern New York Correctional Facility in Napanoch Tuesday afternoon. After saying mass, Cardinal Dolan is slated to visit with inmates and staff. Dennis Poust is spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference.
“What this signifies really is Cardinal Dolan’s spiritual closeness to those who are imprisoned. He enjoys visiting with the imprisoned. He does it regularly. He spends time at Rikers Island and other prisons throughout the state, in the Archdiocese of New York,” says Poust. “It’s one of the corporal works of mercy in the Catholic Church, visiting the imprisoned. In fact, Jesus himself, said, that was one of the things he instructed his followers to do to visit the sick, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned. So, what he’s doing is what Jesus tells us to do. And he likes doing it. He takes joy in meeting with the prisoners, and they get a great kick out of meeting with him.”
In the Hudson Valley, Cardinal Dolan visited Sullivan Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison for men, in Fallsburg in April. He delivered a Thanksgiving Mass at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, a maximum security prison for women, in November 2013. And he visited Taconic Correctional, also in Westchester County, a medium security prison for women, in March of 2012. As for what the Mass at Eastern New York Correctional in Ulster County may bring, Poust replies:
“There are people who are in need of and are seeking forgiveness and redemption. And the church can offer that through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or confession as it’s known, and through the Mass and the Eucharist,” Poust says. “It’s always a moving experience. The cardinal spends time with all the inmates who come. He’ll give them his blessing. And for them, I think, it is an emotional time because they’re seeing this famous churchman, one of the most famous churchmen in the country, come to spend time with them and it’s make them understand that they’re worth something and they’re not forgotten. And that’s a really important thing.”
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein welcomes the visit.
“It’s always wonderful to have any individual that can provide another pathway for people away from crime and towards a better life,” says Hein. “And to have the cardinal here, obviously we very much appreciate it.”
A spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says then New York Cardinal Edward Egan visited Eastern New York Correctional to deliver Mass in 2004 to mark the prison chapel’s 40th anniversary. Eastern houses about 908 male inmates, 64 percent of them from the five boroughs of New York City and 23 percent of them Catholic.
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