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¡Que viva Puerto Rico! Catholic Charities New York Celebrates Puerto Rico

Crowd cheering at New York's Puerto Rican Day Parade, Photo Credit: Catholic Charities New York

by John-Mark de Palma



4 Min Read. With salsa music filling the air and Puerto Rican flags waving, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York celebrated the 62nd annual Puerto Rican Day Parade up Fifth Avenue. Catholic Charities staffers and partners, accompanied by Hurricane Maria evacuees, walked in solidarity with the nearly 4 million Puerto Ricans living in New York and the 3.2 million residing in Puerto Rico. Earlier that week, Catholic Charities clergy including Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan and Fr. Eric Cruz concelebrated the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for over 1,500 with Bishop Eusebio Ramos Morales of Caguas (Puerto Rico) and Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Historically, Catholic Charities of New York and the Puerto Rican people have always maintained a close relationship from immigration assistance to disaster relief aid. Most recently, Catholic Charities continues to provide aid in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Fr. Eric Cruz, Catholic Charities Bronx Regional Director, helps on the front lines of relief efforts for the island. He works to coordinate Catholic Charities relief groups and helps to maintain the organization’s role in the rebuilding efforts. “There have been joint missions to the island, joint planning with university officials from both Brooklyn, Queens in New York, CUNY, SUNY, you name it,” Fr. Cruz said. “There was a massive collaboration here looking towards the resurrection of the island.” In March of 2019, Fr. Cruz along with students from Siena College and Let’s Share the Sun, installed solar panels for low-income students at El Mesón de Amor, near San Juan.

Recent trips provided 20,000 meals for Puerto Rican families thanks to donations from the Goya Foundation that often partners with Catholic Charities New York, book bags filled with supplies for school children studying in buildings hit by the hurricane and support for Catholic Charities partner organizations on the island including New York Foundling and Caritas de Puerto Rico. Other Catholic Charities partners such as Comite Noviembre, worked to rebuild vital structures near San Juan.

Puerto Rican Day Parade, Photo Credit: Catholic Charities New York

During the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Catholic Charities New York helped to relocate 2,017 displaced Puerto Ricans and US Virgin Islanders through the New York City’s East Harlem Hurricane Evacuation Service Center. Through our Disaster Case Management Program, Catholic Charities New York connected people with FEMA and DHS services, provided food pantry vouchers, benefits referrals, winter coats, Metro Cards, and gift cards for necessities. In addition, Catholic Charities:

  • Served 285 households
  • Assisted 520 individuals
  • Housed 80 clients
  • Referred  109 clients to PREA Housing Program
  • Developed 181 recovery plans

Most recently, New York Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Teresa A. Santiago, Catholic Charities New York Hispanic media consultant; Comité Noviembre Founding Member and Chairwoman Emeritus; and Estoy con Puerto Rico  co-founder, to the newly formed Puerto Rico Memorial Commission. As a commission member Ms. Santiago will make recommendations to the governor to establish a new memorial honoring Hurricane Maria victims and survivors. The storm and its aftermath claimed the lives of an estimated 4,645 Puerto Ricans.

The Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Puerto Rican Day Parade not only celebrate the culture and contributions of the Puerto Rican people, but the partnership of the Puerto Rican people and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. "The Catholic Church of New York was very present during those moments of pain and difficulty after Hurricane Maria ... There was solidarity, and this gave hope to the people of Puerto Rico," said Bishop Ramos at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Puerto Rico Mass. ¡Que viva Puerto Rico!

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Puerto Rican Hurricane Evacuees Put Down New York City Roots | Catholic Charities New York

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