Dear Members of the Fordham Family,
Peace of Christ.
As you probably know by now, Saturday afternoon Cardinal Dolan announced that, in response to the coronavirus crisis (and out of a deep concern for the welfare of the faithful in his care), there would be no public Masses celebrated in the churches of the Archdiocese of New York until further notice.
To the best of my knowledge, not a day has passed (and certainly not a Sunday has passed) in our 179-year history that the Eucharist has not been celebrated in the public chapels on the University’s campuses. Therefore, although I truly believe that the Cardinal’s decision was pastorally wise, I would be less than honest if I did not admit that I received the news with more than a tinge of sadness.
I also received it with a great sense of responsibility. But responsibility for what? As the pastor for the University family (that wonderful and wonderfully diverse community that is spread all over the world), I felt and feel the responsibility to pray for our beloved Fordham, and to do so from the bottom of my heart in this time of unprecedented peril in our nation’s history and the history of the whole human family.
Therefore, I will celebrate the Eucharist for all of you (and your families and those whom you love) this morning—Sunday—in Spellman Hall. Then, I will make a solitary pilgrimage to the University Church, which has been the site where the Fordham family has found solace and strength at all of the most challenging and the most joyful moments in its history (and in the lives of so many Rams), the place where the men and women of Fordham have encountered the Lord since the day that the Church opened its doors in 1844; where our ancestors in the faith have repaired to pray for guidance in exams; where our older sisters and brothers have prayed before marching off to war; where Fordham graduates have been united in marriage or ordained to the priesthood. With all of you in my heart (and with a lively sense that I am in a place hallowed by the prayers of those who have gone before us), I will kneel before the high altar and pray for you. Over and over again. As I do so, this will be my prayer:
God of all mercies, grant:
To the Fordham family, safety and good health:
To those afflicted with COVID-19, swift healing;
To the frightened, courage;
To the dying, comfort;
To the dead, eternal life;
To health-care providers, strength and stamina;
To our leaders, wisdom and compassion;
To our nation, unity of purpose;
To the Church, the grace to serve the suffering selflessly;
To all believers, strong faith in Your presence;
To the whole human family, unity of heart; and
To us, your servants, the reward of knowing that we are doing Your will when we spend ourselves in loving service of others.
To our families of all faiths, and none, know that you all are in my thoughts every waking hour—not just when I am at the altar, or writing to you like this, or considering the needs of a particular student, parent, faculty member, alumnus, or staff member. It is our human connections that bring us the greatest joys in life, and provoke our deepest fears. Therefore I ask you to treat yourself and those around you with compassion and forbearance as we navigate this crisis. Take comfort in your ties to those around you, and know that you are an indispensable, irreplaceable member of the Fordham family.
May the God of all consolation walk with us through these difficult times. And may He find us worthy of the call to be His healing and reconciling presence in a wounded world.
Prayers and blessings,
Joseph M. McShane, S.J.