This past summer, I decided to be a tourist in my own city. A born-and-bred New Yorker, however, I have learned in my nineteen years to avoid crowded sights such as Times Square and Midtown like the plague if I wish to keep my sanity. I discovered a new way to enjoy a piece of New York’s cityscape: church hopping. Churches, ornate and unapologetically enormous in a city well-known for its expensive real estate, are numerous, aesthetically pleasing, and perhaps best of all, free for everyone. Rich, poor, bold, meek, native, or foreigner—all are welcome to the physical manifestations of New York’s strong Catholic community.
I have used the word “strong,” but it is perhaps not as strong as it once was. Catholics leaving the Church for a non-religious life, or even one of atheism, is no longer news. Feeling isolated from the Catholic Church’s traditional stances or simply no longer interested in the banalities of a life of prayer and weekly Mass, many American Catholics are not as “Catholic” as they once were generations past. The Archdiocese of New York, which administers to New York’s Catholic churches, schools, and the community at large, has responded accordingly. Four years ago, the Archdiocese launched its “Making All Things New” campaign, a euphemism for closing churches and combining parishes to cut costs in the face of a dwindling base of support among New Yorkers. Sunday Mass at the Church of St. John the Martyr, where I cried as a newborn baby, drew in my coloring books in the pews as a toddler, and altar-served as an awkward pre-teen, became a thing of the past when the church shut its doors in 2015. However, it remains standing and intact, a silent beacon of what once was on New York’s Second Avenue.
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In her response to President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley declared that “fix[ing] our broken immigration system . . . means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Continue reading →
After my first semester at Princeton University, I was excited to return home to Guam for winter break. However, instead of being happy to be back in what most people deem as a “tropical paradise,” I was reminded of something sobering: I am poor. Compared to the comforts provided at Princeton, the living conditions of my family seemed dismal. While some students complain about their dorm beds being too lumpy or the water pressure in the restrooms being too low, I was grateful for these things after having to sleep on the couch and floor for my entire life and to use a bucket to flush the toilets at home.
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Nelson Mandela’s memorial service earlier this month met an outpouring of kind words in commemoration. Dignitaries from Barack Obama to Ban ki-Moon to Raúl Castro struggled to convey the significance of his life while still capturing a glimpse of his humanity along the way. Countless others around the globe offered tributes upon learning of his death. Heads of state and an infinite reel of media voices honored his passing, entirely unsurprising for a man so loved by so many. Some spoke from grief, some in celebration of his life. A few politicians casually treated his death as a cheap political opportunity (see Rick Santorum comparing the liberation struggle against apartheid to the liberation struggle against the Affordable Care Act). Other voices, however, were even more perverse. Continue reading →
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