Holy See Mission Hosts Annual
UN Prayer Service on Sept. 14
NEW YORK — Since 1987, on the vigil of the beginning of a new session of the General Assembly, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations has been hosting a Prayer Service at the Church of the Holy Family, nearby the UN, to invoke God’s assistance upon all those involved in the work of the United Nations as they seek to respond to the needs of the world.
It is normally attended by 70 ambassadors, the Secretary-General, President of the General Assembly, senior UN staff, religious leaders, NGO delegates and others, packing the pews of the 320-seat Church and leaving dozens to pray standing.
This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led the United Nations to choose to carry out most of its work in a virtual format online, the Holy See Mission faced a choice as to whether to cancel the prayer service, create something online, or hold it in person, according to the well-determined and highly successful COVID-19 protocols followed by the Churches in the Archdiocese of New York.
The Mission chose to hold it in person and livestream it for those unable to be invited to attend in person this year.
As Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer, wrote in a letter to Ambassadors, senior UN personnel, and other guests, “In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, prayers are needed more than ever.”
The Prayer Service was held with a limited 50 people in attendance, with seated apart every other pew. The President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly came and spoke on the last day of his term. 25 Permanent Representatives were in attendance. The rest of the 50 available seats were filled by religious leaders, UN Staff, NGO delegates and members of the Holy See team that staff the event.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, gave the meditation.
He framed his remarks on how this year’s Prayer Service was “especially significant” because it was occurring during the pandemic, because it gave every a chance to focus prayerfully on the lessons we can learn.
“Believers are convinced that the Lord of the universe can indeed bring good out of evil, light from darkness, life from death,” he said, before describing four lessons: that the pandemic has displayed how interconnected we are; it has heightened everyone’s solicitude for elders and the vulnerable; it has “unleashed heroic acts of sacrificial service” by medical professionals, public service police and rescue workers, teachers and clergy; it has “slowed us down, coaxing us to savor some quiet, to cherish again our families and friends, to cultivate faith in prayer, concern for others, and outreach to the wider community”; and it has shown us the vulnerability of health care networks and made us mindful of how many had no access at all.
“While we mourn and continue to battle the virus, we do rejoicing in these good promptings that have come from the evil,” he stated.
Secretary-General António Guterres, in a video message, a regular attendee of the Prayer Service as has been his predecessors, spoke via video message. He likewise stressed how the Prayer Service was taking place within an “unprecedented situation.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic has upended lives, livelihoods, and has caused terrible sufferings,” he said. “It has exacerbated inequalities within and among countries, and it is reversing hard-won progress on poverty eradication, food security and other Sustainable Development Goals. It has also caused the closing of places of worship and upset what is deeply ingrained in our human nature: our shared impulse to gather and face hard times together. No region or country has been spared and the socioeconomic impacts will be felt for many years to come. The crisis also highlights both the interdependency and the fragility of our world. It shows that no one can do it alone.”
He emphasized that the crisis has exposed the “interdependency and the fragility” of the world and why international cooperation is essential.
“We will only succeed through unity, leadership and solidarity,” he said, and called upon all present to “pray to build on our collective strength and not only defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, but build a more equal, more just, peaceful and sustainable world.”
The President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly, Ambassador Tijjani Muhummad-Bande of Nigeria, spoke to those assembled on the last day of his term. He mentioned that since the time he addressed the Prayer Service a year ago, the world has undergone a great deal.
“We start by thanking God for sparing our lives so that once again we can be here for this occasion, very mindful as well, that many have perished, either due to the pandemic or other causes. We are still navigating its meaning. It will take some time for us to discern its meaning. Whatever the meaning,” he said, “it must include our need for compassion, our need for truthfulness.”
He added, “All I can do is join all of you in saying ‘Amen’ to all the prayers entrusted and unanswered and to beseech the Creator that we have the knowledge, the courage, the compassion, and the wisdom to do what is right for our fellow human beings … and to seek strength from the one God who creates and is not created.”
During the Service, prayers from Pope Francis were recited for an end to the pandemic, for peace in the world, and for care of our common home. There were also intercessions given for all who work at or for the United Nations, for lasting peace, for an end to terrorism, for a globalization of solidarity toward those who are suffering, for a spirit of hospitality toward refugees and migrants, for the dignity of each person to be respected and protected, and for the common good of all peoples.
Father Gerald Murray, Pastor of the Church of the Holy Family, gave the invocation. Archbishop Caccia presided over the Prayer Service and gave the final prayer.
Music was provided by the Schola Cantorum of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena Parishes in New York, led by James Wetzel. They sang selections from William Byrd, John Amner, Jacob Regnant, Andrea Rota and some original compositions by Wetzel himself.
Cardinal Dolan finished his remarks by quoting what Pope Paul VI said in his address to the General Assembly in 1965, which he said was particularly appropriate not only for the Prayer Service but for the United Nations as it marks its 75th Anniversary.
“The hour has come,” Paul VI said, “for a halt, a moment of contemplation, of reflection, almost of prayer; a moment to think anew of our common origin, our history, our common destiny. Today, as never before, in an era marked by such human progress, there is need for an appeal to the moral conscience of man. … The edifice of modern civilization must be built upon spiritual principles; the only principles capable not only of supporting it but also of enlightening and animating it. And these indispensable principles of superior wisdom must be founded … upon faith in God.”
For the first time in his history, the Prayer Service was livestreamed. The video can be found on the Mission’s YouTube Channel.
There was also press coverage. The Currents news program of NET.TV did a video and an article.
Catholic News Service likewise filed an article with various photos of the event.
Preparing for a Unique High-Level Week at UNGA 75
NEW YORK — During the High-Level portion of the General Debate at the beginning of each session of the General Assembly, the United Nations is used to welcoming in person hundreds of Heads of State and Government, Foreign Ministers and their entourages.
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the General Debate is happening, New York City will be far less frenetic. The statements that will be given for the General Debate, for the Summits on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, Biodiversity and the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will all take place via pre-recorded video messages.
Within the General Assembly Hall, in order to keep to UN social distancing guidelines, only one representative per Member State or Permanent Observer State will be able to be in the six seats normally assigned to each country.
While in normal years, the Holy See would be represented at the General Debate, Summits and other High-Level Meetings by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, or the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, this year, because the statement can be delivered by video message, Pope Francis will give it. The statement will be given on Friday, September 25, in the morning.
The General Debate will take place between Sept. 22 and Sept 29.
The day before the General Debate commences, the United Nations will host a Summit commemorating the 75th Anniversary of its founding. Cardinal Parolin will give the statement on behalf of the Holy See.
On Sept. 30, the United Nations will hold a Summit on Biodiversity, and the Holy See’s statement will be delivered by Archbishop Gallagher.
On Oct. 1, when the UN has a Summit to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, Dr. Francesca Da Giovanni, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs in the Section for Relations with States, will deliver the statement.
On Oct. 2, Archbishop Gallagher will deliver the Holy See’s statement during the Summit marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
All of the Statements will be published on the website of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See as soon as they are delivered. The videos will also be published on the YouTube page of the Mission.
Mother of Archbishop Bernardito Auza Dies in the Philippines
Magdalena Auza, Mother of Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra and former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nation, is shown here meeting Pope Francis, September 24, 2015 in New York. She is pictured together with her husband, Meliton, to whom she was married for 75 years and with whom she had 12 children. She died in the Philippines on Sept. 14.
TALIBON, PHILLIPINES — On September 14, Magdalena Auza, 98-year-old mother of the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra, and former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations (2014-2019), Archbishop Bernardito Auza, died in Talibon, Philippines, after a brief illness.
Born Magdalena Polestico Cleopas, she was married to Meliton Garcia Auza for 75 years. They celebrated their Platinum Wedding Anniversary on January 27, 2020. Magdalena was the mother of 12 children, of whom Archbishop Auza was the eighth.
She is survived by her 98-year-old husband Meliton, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her funeral will be on Monday September 21 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Trinity, Talibon, and will be livestreamed for their children to be able virtually to participate, including Archbishop Auza, as they cannot attend the funeral of their mother due to the coronavirus crisis.
Those who would like to send cards of condolences to Archbishop Auza and family members may do so care of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, 25 E. 39th Street, New York, NY 10016.
Several Masses for the repose of her soul have been offered at the chapel of the Holy See Mission by Archbishop Gabriele Caccia and the priests of the Mission.
Pope Francis with Archbishop Auza, his parents Meliton and Magdalena, and many members of his extended family at the Residence of the Holy See in New York on September 24, 2020. Magdalena Auza died on Sept. 14 at the age of 98, after a brief illness.
New Interns Arrive at the
Holy See Mission
The Fall 2020 Interns at the Holy See Mission together with Archbishop Gabriele Caccia (middle, seated), Permanent Observer, and Fr. Roger Landry of the Holy See Staff. Seated from left is Jean Maloney and Marisa Martinez. In the back standing from left to right are Juan Padin, Pedro Perez, Thomas Murphy, Francesco Teruggi and David Lewandowski.
NEW YORK — On August 31, the Holy See Mission welcomed seven interns for the September through December 2020 Session of the United Nations.
They hail originally from Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Italy and the United States.
They are a sign that things are slowly returning to the normal workload at the United Nations and at the Mission after the reduction in meetings and the shifting of them online.
They are David Lewandowski, Jean Maloney, Marisa Martinez, Thomas Murphy, Juan Padin, Pedro Perez, and Francesco Teruggi.
David Lewandowski hails from Minnesota, where he graduated from the University of St. Thomas with degrees in Philosophy, History and Catholic Studies, with a concentration in Catholic social teaching, 20th Century Eastern European History and international human rights law. He has served internships at the Charlesmagne Institute and the Habiger Institute and recently completed a year of teaching in three high schools in Hungary. He is enthusiastic about the internship because “international relations, diplomacy and history have always been my passions and this position ideally intersects the talents God has given me, my background and what I beliee is my mission.”
Jean Maloney is from Maryland, and has degrees in Israeli Studies and English. She served for two years as a FOCUS missionary at the University of Pittsburgh after graduating from the University of Maryland. She has also done service work in Colombia and Ecuador among the homeless, addicted and indigent. She also served a five-month internship at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. She is excited about the internship because it will give her “firsthand experience of the Catholic Church’s role in advocating for truth and justice in international affairs.”
Marisa Martinez is a native of Alabama where she graduated from Auburn University with a degree in business administration. Her passion for Catholic social teaching in action did not crystallize for her until she served for three years as a program coordinator for Catholic Charities Immigration Services in Denver. Previously she served for two years for the Spanish Ministry of Education teaching English at an elementary school in the province of Galicia, Spain. She found out about the internship because a friend of hers, Rebecca Rethwisch, served an internship in 2018 and was eager to apply because she believes the Holy See Mission helps “bring the values of peace, justice and human dignity to the forefront” and that it would be an “invaluable opportunity to learn and to translate my experiences on the ground in a more impactful way.”
Thomas Murphy, from Calgary, majored in political science at the University of Calgary, where he concentrated on world politics and international relations. He grew up in a non-practicing household and in his teens discovered an appreciation for a life of faith, such that he is passionate about living out a vocation as a Catholic layman, using whatever gifts God has given him in support of the Church’s Mission. He was drawn toward applying for an internship at the Holy See Mission because he views Catholic social teaching “as an answer for current and pressing issues that plague us today.”
Juan Padin, a native of Buenos Aires, is an Argentine lawyer, having graduated from the National University of Buenos Aires. He is presently a candidate for a Masters in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (LLM) at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. For three years he worked as a legal advisor at the Office of Foreign Affairs in the Argentine Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. He has also done full-term internships as at the UN International Law Commission and at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s office in Argentina. He was excited to serve at the Holy See Mission because, he said, it “will allow me to link my passion for international law with the practical experience of the work of the Holy See in the international arena and the implementation of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church worldwide.”
Pedro Perez was born in Cuba. At nine, he moved with his family to the United States in pursuit of democracy. His experiences as a Cuban immigrant inspired him to pursue degrees in History, Political Science, Latin American Studies and Art History at the University of Florida, during which he studied abroad in Paris at Sciences Po. After graduating from university, he served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine. He will begin law school in the Fall of 2021. He speaks Spanish, French, Russian and Ukranian and said he was eager to serve as an intern in order to “aid the Holy See in its crucial mission.”
Francesco Teruggi began his internship at the Mission in January, as the third annual fellow from the Toniolo Institute from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. He has been covering the issues at the Security Council over the past eight months and looks forward to continuing that service to the Mission through Christmas. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, a Master’s in Organizational Psychology and a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies, where he focused on the conflict in Yemen. After graduation he worked for Oasis International Foundation, a Milan-based research center founded by Cardinal Angelo Scola and focused on the Middle East. He came to the Mission hoping that to put what he called his “varied and cross-disciplinary education in social psychology, organizational psychology and political science” to service for the Mission.
Father Roger Landry, who supervises the internship program, said that the Mission was very happy to welcome back a full crew of interns after a summer when, because of the pandemic, no new interns were able to be received.
“The work of the United Nations is rather vast and our staff is small. Even if we were all given the gift of bilocation, we could never cover everything important happening at the UN on a given day on our own. That’s why the interns we have are so important to our work.”
The interns receive four days of intense training at the beginning of their term, which covers Holy See Diplomacy, the work of the Holy See Mission at the UN, the workings at the UN, various writing exercises to help them learn the literary form necessary for diplomatic reports, briefings from the staff members on their areas of expertise and more. They also have a chance to develop a sense of teamwork, receive a tour of the United Nations, and get introduced to New York City.
During the months of March through May, Holy See staff and interns worked remotely, covering the virtual meetings from home. During the summer, two interns from the Spring Session, Francesco Teruggi and Elia Berlingerio, remained in New York to help the staff of the Mission attend and report on the meetings taking place on line. The interns who had been accepted for the Summer program had their terms deferred to subsequent sessions, including this Fall.
Several of the interns were awarded Viscogliosi Brothers Fellowships, a special sponsorship program for interns, to make their internship feasible.
Those interested in finding out more about internships of the Holy See, or applying for future sessions, are encouraged to visit the Holy See Mission’s website and click the link for internship program.
The newly arrived Fall 2020 Interns at the Holy See Mission on their first visit to the United Nations, standing before the Holy See flag. From left to right, Marisa Martinez, Juan Padin, Pedro Perez, Jean Maloney, David Lewandowski and Thomas Murphy.
Holy See Mission Inaugurates
New Outdoor Deck
On September 10, the Holy See Mission inaugurated a new deck on the back of the internship floor of the Mission for some outdoor receptions as well as for some informal meetings out guests from outside of the Mission during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior it had just been a roof to the chapel. Here we see Msgr. David Charters of the Holy See Mission interacting with various of the newly arrived interns.