Mass in the Church of St. Luke, Queens (Photo by Laura Razzano/i-Italy)

Chronicle of the first day of Cardinal Sepe's visit to New York (January 17)

(26 January 2011)


His Eminence Crescenzio Sepe Cardinal of Naples arrived in New York this afternoon at 2:30pm to promote “DireNapoli”, the intent of which is to tell Naples to the world, with its contradictions but also with its hope of redemption. The Cardinal is traveling with Monseigneur Gennaro Matino, Moderator of the Church of Naples and Vicar for communication. Tomorrow – Tuesday – he will join Vice-secretary of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Vincenzo Scotti, who will accompany the Cardinal for part of his visit.

Awaiting him at JFK airport, together with Italian Consul General Francesco Maria Talò, was also an old friend: Don Hillary Franco, from the Archdiocese of Westchester. “He represents the best personification of Neapolitanness” commentated the American priest to the press, speaking about Cardinal Sepe, whom he met many years ago in the Vatican.

In the five days of his trip, the Cardinal of Naples will visit all five boroughs of New York City: Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx.


The Bronx is where he began his visit, at the Church of Monte Carmelo, heart of an Italian community once very large. Awaiting him, together with the faithful, was a large group of representatives of local associations.

The Cardinal, who in his statement explained the wish to “bring the love of Naples”, received two gifts and a warm applause from the public present who were pleasantly surprised of his final salute in Neapolitan: 'A Maronna v'accumpagna.

The faithful accompanied him with great warmth all the way to his car, which brought him to another appointment of the first day, the Church of Saint Luke in Queens, where he had been invited by the Federazione dei Campani nel Mondo, which includes 55 American associations.

8:00 PM

Here he celebrated a solemn mass in Italian inside a church crowded with common people but also representatives of the Italian and Italian-American communities. Monseigneur Frank Joseph Caggiano was present, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio.

His Eminence's speech, pronounced on Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday in America, began by remembering the importance of his battle for civil rights and against racial discrimination.

The homily mainly touched the theme of Naples, affirming that today the city “suffers of the same precariousness that one time brought all of you to emigrate”. And today, underlined the Cardinal, unemployment in Naples sends away mostly the younger generations, the most important.

To these faithful, toward which America “has guaranteed work and dignity”, and who still love Naples and suffer when seeing it hurt by old and new problems, the Cardinal asked to be ambassadors “of its pain, its hope and will will of rebirth”.

His Eminence took the opportunity to denounce a city internationally oppressed by an image in the media that doesn't do it justice. Garbage, camorra, disorder are all real and mustn't be forgotten, but they don't prevent the city to maintain at the same time “strong values of family, solidarity, sharing and welcoming.”

On these notes of hope the Cardinal closed his speech dismissing the faithful, moved again by his salute in dialect.