St. Patrick’s Mass Kicks Off Dominican Heritage Month

The first lady of the Dominican Republic, Cándida Montilla de Medina (holding the flag), with fellow Dominicans at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to honor the Virgin of Altagracia. (Photo via Impacto Latino)

Representing the government of her country, First Lady of the Dominican Republic Cándida Montilla de Medina attended a Mass to honor the Virgin of Altagracia held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The event saw a massive presence of the Dominican community.

In addition to the expressions of faith and veneration made by the followers of the spiritual protector of the Dominican Republic, emotional moments of national pride in which the Dominican flag was waved took place at the mass.

The communion was led by the auxiliary bishop of Santo Domingo, Monsignor Ramón Benito Ángeles, and concelebrated by priests from the Hispanic Ministry.

“In our church, Mary is the ultimate expression of unity in diversity,” said Ángeles. The Day of the Virgin of Altagracia is observed on Jan. 21 in the Dominican Republic with emblematic processions and a Mass at the Basilica of Higüey.

The bishop added that the devotion of Mary calls on the church to have that same attitude with the poor and with all people suffering on Earth, including the elderly and vulnerable children.

The religious event, which is celebrating its 45th edition, kicks off Dominican Heritage Month.

Montilla de Medina was accompanied by Dominican Consul in New York Carlos Castillo and the technical coordinator of the office of the First Lady, Martha Rodríguez de Báez.

Leaders of the Dominican community were also in attendance, among them Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa and former Assemblyman Guillermo Linares.

For the Eucharist, the bread and wine were delivered by the first lady and Consul Castillo. Children in traditional attire showed their Dominican pride and brought offerings and flowers for the Virgin.

Worshippers of the Virgin of Altagracia displayed a painting of the Virgin, as well as Dominican and U.S. flags. Committees from some 45 churches from Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Yonkers also participated.

Dozens of Dominicans gave a joyous welcome to the first lady as she entered St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The first Mass honoring the Virgin of Altagracia at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was held on Jan. 21, 1973.

Before this religious act, the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, welcomed the first lady at his residence, next door to the cathedral. Montilla de Medina arrived with Auxiliary Bishop of Santo Domingo Monsignor Benito Ángeles, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations Francisco Cortorreal, Consul General Carlos Castillo and Deputy Ambassador Marcos Montilla.

Speaking to the first lady at the event, Cardinal Dolan reiterated his love and admiration for the Dominican community. He added that the church needs the faith, passion and commitment brought by this immigrant community.

He also remembered the three visits he has made to that country and highlighted the beauty of its people and its landscape, adding that he hopes to fulfill his wish to return soon and see the Basilica of Higüey.

Green March protest

For its part, Dominican Today reported that during the same event at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral a group of the Green March showed up to protest corruption and impunity in President Danilo Medina’s government.

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