Essay: Book Launch for Just Church by Dr. Phyllis Zagano

Recently, Phyllis Zagano, PhD., a leading expert on the theology and history of woman deacons in the early Church, gave a lecture in Wallace Hall promoting her newest book, Just Church: Catholic Social Teaching, Synodality, and Women. She is highly regarded internationally as a scholar and lecturer on spirituality and the restoration of women deacons in the Catholic Church. Dr. Zagano was appointed to the papal commission for the study of the diaconate of women.

The lecture was inspirational, and Dr. Zagano engaged the audience to think about the Synodal process happening in the Church right now. Pope Francis is encouraging change to come from us as members of the Roman Catholic Church and has established pathways for lay women to vote in the Synod. Progress is emerging in the new synodal process as women’s voices are being heard and the hierarchy is listening, thanks to Pope Francis.

However, even though the new synodal progress is encouraging, Dr. Zagano points out, “despite the many topics that touch on the experiences of women, Catholic social justice principles as they are, or are not, applied to women.”

In response to the study of women becoming ordained into the diaconate, Dr. Zagano reminds us that this would be a Restorative practice. St. Phoebe was one of the first female deacons who evangelized with St. Paul. During this very important Synod, the time is here for us to learn about the women deacons who preached the Good News.

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate

May 28, 2023 Essay: Notes from Some of Our New Catholics…

The RCIA experience was unlike anything I have ever participated in; it allowed me to look inward and connect with my fellow Catechumens. It was both a spiritual and an educational journey for me to learn about Catholicism and build upon my relationship with God through the bible, sessions, and attending Sunday Mass with my RCIA group. I also gained valuable relationships with those involved in the St. Ignatius community. Ultimately, I am grateful that I was able to partake in such a beautiful journey, which I know will continue to impact every aspect of my life positively.  — Naomi Minato


My spiritual journey has finally put me on the right track to the Catholic Church! Some of it is thanks to my interest in history and theology, yes, but in a deeper sense, I found warmth in the Gospels, the teaching of Christ, and its uniqueness compared to other faiths. I’d also have to give credit to the late Pope Benedict XVI and his speeches, along with his beautiful writings, as they drew me closer to the Church. One of them is his Apostolic letter “Porta Fidei,” which brilliantly illustrates how we must feel it in our hearts while also having knowledge of faith. Doing so “opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God”. — Tayyab M


For the past ten years or so, I have been struggling with depression and anxiety. Having tried everything else, I resolved to investigate the Christian faith further. As I began to research Christianity, I found the most reasonable path to be the Catholic one.  I was recommended the St. Ignatius RCIA because of its reputation as being a rigorous program. What I found was a wonderful class full of like-minded individuals. Being able to participate fully in the liturgy gives me hope. When I have hope, I feel like all things are possible. — Anonymous


After being baptized, the shadow that lingered left me. My energy is light and alive. I move about with more freedom and fullness, with comfort and vulnerability. The divine shield that has protected me slackens so that I may enjoy God’s presence not only interiorly but externally as well. Light consumes all, and my courtship with Christ has ended in my Union with the church. — Courtney Loftin


Catholicism was something that was always a part of my life. Growing up in a Vietnamese community, I was baptized Catholic and attended church, but was never able to truly understand the Scripture passages. Thus, I was never able to connect spiritually. As I matured, I thought about my life as a future husband and father. I realized that my sense of spirituality was missing, and I needed to be in touch with my faith — not only to be the best version of myself but also the best version of myself to my family. I am truly grateful that I was able to find this church and was able to connect to my faith. My family and I have a faith community to attend for generations to come. — Jonathan Le


After being connected to Father Yesalonia by a family friend, who is a priest and officiated at my wedding, I was inspired to explore Catholicism further. Seeking to develop a closer relationship with God and unite my family, I pursued baptism and have found a deep sense of peace and purpose in my newfound faith. I’m grateful for the guidance and support of the RCIA and church community, and I look forward to continuing on my journey of faith with an open heart and mind. — Ken Chang






ISJ Essay: What is College? A Workshop with Regis and LSA Students

We are grateful to Lisa Peterson, Director of College Counseling, Guidance Counselor, and College Advisor at Regis High School for presenting her “What is College?” workshop to a group of LSA (Little Sisters of the Assumption) Health and Family Services high school students and their parents on Friday, May 5th.

The audience was made up of eight families, predominantly sophomores and juniors, including recent asylum seekers. Lisa is fluent in Spanish and English, courtesy of growing up as a child of Cuban migrant parents, and is ideally suited to present this workshop. Lisa stressed from the beginning and repeated throughout the presentation, that anybody can attend college if they are willing to put in the work and we are there to support them. I consider these workshops a success if these families can come away with the knowledge that this country wants their children to attend college and there are various opportunities and support systems available to them from both the colleges and the government.

This knowledge may be something we take for granted based on our experiences, but for many families of first-generation college applicants, this will be the first time that they become aware of these opportunities, and discover the newly found freedom and the hope that it inspires. Lisa presented handouts in Spanish and English and presented in Spanish with a splash of English acronyms.

A key moment for me was when Lisa asked the audience if they were familiar with CUNY, and they genuinely were not. The enormity of the challenge facing these families was plain to be seen and the value of these workshops was never more evident. I was delighted to see Lisa visit with the families at their tables after the presentation was over. This gesture demonstrates that she is keenly aware of the family and cultural dynamics at play and that some questions are easier to ask in private rather than in front of an audience. I came away from this workshop with the assurance that no matter what obstacles to college first come to mind, there are solutions to be found in the pink, yellow, and green handouts.

— Jimmy Coffey

How To Go “All In” For Peace: No More Velleities!

Recently, Frida Berrigan gave her reflection for our Lectures at St. Ignatius series in our church. She engaged the audience with stories of her parents, Phil Berrigan and Elizabeth McAllister, and her childhood years spent at Jonah House with her siblings in Baltimore, MD. She recalled days of “dumpster diving” for fruit and vegetables that were considered not worthy to sell in supermarkets. She recalled how Jonah House, made up of peace activists in the Catholic Worker tradition, became family to each other, and these were the people who took care of her and her siblings if her parents were both in jail at the same time.

Although Frida had quite an unusual childhood, she is thoughtful and soft-spoken and adds humor to her stories. Another important person in her life was her Uncle Dan. Dan Berrigan, S.J., was a poet, peacemaker, anti-war activist, and Jesuit priest. She entitled her lecture, How To Go “All In” For Peace: No More Velleities! She quoted her Uncle Dan, “We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total—but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial. So a whole will and a whole heart and a whole national life bent toward war prevail over the velleities of peace.”

Velleity is the weakest form of volition, a desire that one has no energy or intention to fulfill. Frida urged the audience to go all in. “No more velleities! No more half-tries, no more vague attempts, no more vacillation. All in. All together. The work is clear: Reconnect estranged family members, reweave tattered human connections, restore frayed trust, reforge bonds between people, repair the damage done by decades (no centuries) of war. And do it all on a human scale. And bit by bit, connection by connection, person by person, we are creating new cultures—as Dorothy Day taught us—where it is easier for people to be good.”

 — Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate

ISJ Essay: The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola and the Parable of The Good Samaritan

A few weeks ago, Father Yesalonia challenged us to find ways to follow the example of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37. Here Jesus calls on us to spread God’s love in a spirit of compassion and care for our neighbors.


Members of the Social Justice Ministry accepted our pastor’s challenge and participated in Don’t Walk By, an annual winter outreach in collaboration with City Relief, Salvation Army, Bowery Mission, and other non-profit agencies. Volunteers canvassed Manhattan streets from midtown to the Battery, met dozens of homeless individuals, and invited them back to a host site in Chinatown for a nutritious meal, clothing, medical care, and referrals to city agencies that offer more support.


Today’s experience reinforced that part of my responsibility is to share my many blessings. It is hard to be complacent and take for granted that roof over my head, my three meals a day, and a simple pair of socks. The Parable of the Good Samaritan will continue to challenge me.


So what experiences/insights/thoughts did St. Ignatius volunteers have? Below are the comments from several parishioners who participated in the 2023 Don’t Walk By.


Jimmy Coffey: Our engagements on the streets of Midtown brought into sharp focus just how complicated a day in a vulnerable person’s life can be. My team encountered a man with nothing, not even a simple bag to store the socks we gave him. He was reluctant to accept a second pair as he didn’t want to deny another person the opportunity to have them. Today reminds us that we can take a lot for granted as we go about our busy yet safe and comfortable lives. 


Judith Rosenberger: My team worked well together. It shows where there’s a shared commitment, a bond will follow. I had the most success finding guests in the subway—I won’t need my Stairmaster after today! They accepted literature and socks and a bit of a chat. All in all, it was most worthwhile. I’m very grateful to have been able to take part.


Peter: Don’t Walk By is a chance to interact with our vulnerable brothers and sisters as our neighbors. After we visited with our last neighbor, my volunteer group debriefed over a late lunch in the community we served, discussed the extraordinary experience, and shared stories of our interactions with the homeless in our neighborhoods. We agreed to meet again and encourage those in our faith communities and beyond to engage with our neighbors—even if it’s just an acknowledgment with a hello and offering some food or beverage.


Dolores Troy-Quinn: A long day but a very worthwhile experience because it made the people I met on the street visible and worthy of human dignity. I am also awed by the dedication of so many people willing to give up a whole Saturday to connect with their homeless brothers and sisters.


Anne: I started our Walk thinking that “success” would be persuading our brothers and sisters on the street to go to the Bowery center for a lovely meal and access to shelter, healthcare, and other services. At the end of the day, I saw that the simple act of meeting, talking, and listening to those we met was also a success. We could engage them, letting them know that they were not invisible. These small acts on our part have led me to see that we don’t always need an organized event to support these persons on the street. We can do this anytime we choose.


Terry Quinn: Today’s experience reinforced my responsibility to share my many blessings. It is hard to be complacent and take for granted that roof over my head, my three meals a day, and a simple pair of socks. The Parable of the Good Samaritan will continue to challenge me.


Terry Quinn

ISJ Essay: An Afternoon of Prayer and Discovery

In January, St. Ignatius parishioners and members of the Ignatian Social Justice Ministry, Jimmy Coffey, Laura Cronin, Laura De Boisblanc, Anne Melanson, Christine Meyer, and Regan Orillac, traveled to McAllen and Brownsville, Texas, to volunteer with Fr. Brian Strassberger, S.J., and Fr. Louie Hotop, S.J., in their Border Ministry.

Inspired by the plight of our neighbors at the Texas and Reynosa, Mexico border, Migrant Stations of the Cross were designed last year by a previous group who volunteered. On a recent Saturday in Wallace Hall, Fr. Mark Hallinan, S.J., led parishioners in these Migrant Stations of the Cross, and after, Laura Cronin led a panel discussion.

Rosayra Pablo Cruz and her now-19-year-old son, Yordy Michicoj Pablo, who were separated at the border in 2016, began with their stories. Rosy authored The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border and is part of the upcoming Netflix documentary Split at the Root with Julie Schwietert Collazo, who spearheaded the grassroots foundation Immigrant Families Together.

Rosy and Yordy gave a compelling brief synopsis of their journey. They left Guatemala after Rosy’s husband was murdered. She was paying money to a drug cartel for protection, and when she stopped, they threatened to take Yordy. Rosy, Yordy, and her youngest son, Fernando, had to leave quickly. She left her two daughters behind with her mother. Rosy, Yordy, and Fernando were separated at the border in Arizona. Yordy and Fernando were taken to New York while Rosy remained in detention, wondering how she would make the $12,000 bond.

Rosy and other moms separated at the border caught the attention of a group of moms from Queens, New York, who created a GoFundMe for these detained mothers at the border. The New York Moms posted bond and organized a caravan of drivers to bring Rosy from Arizona to New York City to find her sons, Yordy and Fernando. They are now thriving and living in The Bronx.

After their presentation, Jimmy Coffey and Anne Melanson shared their poignant reflections from the border volunteerism with Fr. Brian and Fr. Louie, and Pastor Abraham from a Baptist Church in Brownsville.

If you are interested in volunteering to help asylum seekers who are in New York City, The Migrant Center at St. Francis of Assisi Church seeks volunteers. St. Francis is located at 135 West 31st Street and needs assistance on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate

ISJ Essay: Kino Border Initiative, Joanna Williams

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Joanna Williams, the Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), shared her experiences in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, along the U.S. southern border with a group of 18 St. Ignatius Loyola parishioners. What an inspiration and a delight to hear from such an accomplished Georgetown graduate about how KBI embodies “Migration with Dignity.”

The Kino Border Initiative, a bi-national organization that is affiliated with the Jesuits, provides humanitarian assistance, education and encounter between migrants and others, and advocacy to promote humane, just, and workable migration. Joanna has been the Executive Director since 2021, but her affiliation with the organization goes back more than a decade. She learned about KBI through an immersion trip organized by Georgetown University while she was a student there.

Because the Kino Border Initiative shelter’s physical location is on the Mexican side of the border, Joanna has a unique window into the hopes and dreams and the fears and challenges of many who migrate from Latin America. She shared the stories of several migrants with the group, including the story of Walter from Honduras. Walter lost his job when his company laid off most workers during the pandemic. Then, two terrible hurricanes wiped out his house and much of the infrastructure in his community. When he tried to rebuild, the area had been taken over by gangs and cartels. His brother-in-law was murdered, and Walter was told he was next. After several months of extortion and threats of violence, Walter felt as though he had no choice but to undertake the dangerous trek and seek asylum in the United States.

Stories like Walter’s are quite common along the border. The push of forced displacement often comes from several factors. In Walter’s case, a climate disaster, poverty, and gang violence all combined to make staying in Honduras impossible.

The Kino Border Initiatives’ current advocacy priorities suggest that we look for ways to meet with local representatives, write “Letters to the Editor,” and otherwise look to tell the story of the borderlands in our local communities. The two priorities that she stressed were (1) allowing those fleeing dangerous circumstances to access asylum at the border and (2) holding government agencies active at the border accountable for the humane treatment of all migrants.

She also welcomed all St. Ignatius Loyola parishioners to learn more about KBI, to partner with them in their amazing work, and to “come and see” how Catholic Social Teaching is put into action. If you would like more information about the Kino Border Initiative or about the parish’s work to support migrants in NYC, please contact [email protected].

— Christine Meyer

From the Pastor: February 26, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

Let’s get back to basics.

It is time for us to refresh our understanding of matters of faith and religion. There is a growing trend in the universal church that people in the pews are increasingly “religion illiterate,” that many Catholics have either forgotten or never learned the fundamental concepts of Catholicism, of why we do what we do and the significance of what we do. Sometimes habit dims our understanding of why, for example, we attend Mass, receive Holy Communion, are baptized, engage in devotional practices, and so on.

Beginning on Wednesday, 19 April, the priests of the parish will offer an opportunity to learn more about what it means to be Catholic. Back to Basics will be presented on four consecutive Wednesdays at 7:00 PM in the Carlos Cuartas Parish Lounge. The four topic areas that will be covered are:

  1. Faith and Religion 101. An overview of faith and how it is manifested in religion. Fr. Yesalonia (19 April)
  2. Catholicism 101. What distinguishes Catholicism from other religions. Fr. Casciotti (26 April)
  3. Ignatian Spirituality 101. Fundamental principles. The Examen. Discernment. The meaning and significance of AMDG. Fr. Hilbert (3 May)
  4. The Liturgy of the Mass 101. Each part of the Mass will be explained, along with its accompanying prayers. Fr. Hallinan (10 May)

There is no need to worry. There will be no quizzes or exams. The goal is to learn more about (or re-learn!) what we believe as Catholics and how we manifest that by the ways we pray and worship. Registration is required. To register, click here.

God bless you!

Sincerely in the Lord,

Fr. Yesalonia

ISJ Essay: To Witness and Accompany

Anyone who’s ever searched for a rainbow knows that’s not the way to go about it. You don’t find them; they find you.

When six of us from Ignatian Social Justice left at the end of January for a week at the US-Mexico border, I honestly wasn’t quite sure what we were looking for or exactly what we were going to find, but I knew that it was time for me to learn more about one of the greatest humanitarian crisis our world faces. Every corner of the world is affected by some type of migration crisis. Our response to these displacements shapes our countries, communities, and humanity.

Our overall goal, as I understood it was to ‘witness and accompany.’ What would that look like?

In Reynosa, Mexico, we brought a carload of toys and coloring kits for the children living with their mothers in dormitory-style rooms. They all wore everything they could get their hands on against the cold winter da: sockss and sandals, a snowsuit, a sweater, or a light coat over a t-shirt.
Later that day, in the Senda 2 camp, we saw many people living in plastic-covered tents in tidy rows. A group of Mormon volunteers were building casitas that housed three and four families in one-room structures. Everywhere the migrants were organizing themselves into work units—caulking around the casitas, securing the gate, cooking for the thousands in impossibly large pots in the open kitchen, cleaning the latrines, distributing donated diapers, cleaning supplies, and food. When we asked how they got people to volunteer for the less savory jobs, one responded with a sly smile, “We unplug the phone chargers until someone volunteers.” The phones are their lifelines. They make hasty phone calls to loved ones at home. They WhatsApp their sponsors in the US. They load and reload the new CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) app, which God-willing will one day tell them they are confirmed for an appointment at the border—the answer to their prayers.

In a car loaded with rice and corn flour, we joined a Baptist pastor in Matamoros, Mexico. No walls surrounded this camp. The ground was uneven; there were muddy puddles though the last rain was days before, and the ‘tents’ were often made from bits of plastic and tarp. Amenities include four water stations, a handful of port-o-potties, and makeshift showers for thousands of migrants. After the food was gone, a line formed for the cardboard boxes the rice came in. They’re used to sleeping on to protect them from moisture, uneven terrain, and filth. Plus, the kids found them highly entertaining.
These are just a few of the visits we made.

Oh, and the rainbow appeared. Twice.

Working in Brownsville with the newly arrived, a couple recognized us from the camp. They fell into our arms like long-lost friends. We literally danced and laughed and got them in contact with volunteers in DC.

Then, on our last day, when there was nothing left to do but fly home and ponder all that we’d seen and heard, we noticed the lost and confused migrants trying to find their way through Houston airport. We gathered them, and bought them breakfast. We held hands, and explained gates, airport names, and boarding groups. Until finally, at baggage claim in LaGuardia, we watched them fall into the arms of their family members, sobbing with tears of joy and relief.

Back to the original question of what we were doing. We did witness and accompany. We saw lots of pieces of the puzzle—both sides of the border.

Unaccompanied minors, single moms, and young solo men. We heard heart-rending stories alongside humor, joy, and faith. The more we understood, the more each story revealed its uniqueness. We came to know people, religious and otherwise, dedicating much of their lives to tending to those in dire circumstances. Altogether it was humbling and eye-opening—a call to action.

— Regan Orillac

Earthquake Relief: Donation Resources for Turkey And Syria

Last week, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake ravaged Turkey and Syria, which has taken thousands of lives and caused significant damage across the region.

If you want to provide aid or support to affected communities in:
– Turkey: Visit
– Syria: Visit