Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Joseph Zwilling is Mistaken!

San Lorenzo Chapel to stay open but under new director, an item in the Jan. 9 - 15 edition of the Filipino Reporter clarifies the status of the Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, not far from Our Lady of Vilnius on Broome Street. Too good not to blog in its entirety:

"San Lorenzo Chapel to stay open but under new director


In a sudden turn of events, the Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz in lower Manhattan will not be shut down as earlier reported. But its director, Fr. Erno Diaz, will be replaced, the Filipino Reporter has learned this week.

The closure of the Chinatown-based Catholic shrine designated for the Filipino faithful was reportedly set on Jan. 31, 2009, and had been confirmed to the Reporter by sources privy to the move, including the spokesman of the Archdiocese of New York, Joseph Zwilling, who cited low attendance as the main reason.

But on Tuesday (Jan. 6), Zwilling, director of communications of the Archdiocese, backtracked and repeatedly apologized for his “error” in confirming the closure of the Chapel on Broome Street.

“I was misinformed last week and I wish to correct what I said to you last week,” Zwilling told the Reporter. “The Chapel is not will remain open for the Filipino community. I was incorrect when I spoke to you last week.”

“It was my error in confirming the story with you last week,” he said. “There had never been a decision to close it. We had discussions what the future would be. There had been discussion that it would close but, again, obviously I did not have the whole set of information when I spoke to you previously. So the only explanation is I was in error. I was mistaken.”

Another source told the Reporter the decision not to close the chapel came from the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See to the United Nations.

But Zwilling flatly denied it, saying the Apostolic Nuncio has “no authority” over the Archdiocese or any of its branches. When asked if the Vatican or the Apostolic Nuncio has anything to do with the decision to keep the chapel open, Zwilling said: “As far as I know, no. There was none.”

Zwilling said the decision was actually made by the vicar general of the archdiocese, Bishop Dennis Sullivan. “I was part of the discussion, but obviously I did not get the full story myself when we were discussing the future of the chapel,” Zwilling stated. “There had been a subsequent meeting which I was not present. There was more discussion of the situation and the decision was reached not to close the chapel, but a new director would be appointed.”

“As of Tuesday, the new director has not been named yet,” Zwilling said. “Fr. Diaz’s new assignment has not been decided yet, but those are in the planning stages.”

“It’s also under discussion if the new director will serve part-time or full-time,” he added, “because the person has not yet been identified so we do not know if the person will do this in addition to other duties, or if this will be a full time work.”

There is no word if another Filipino priest will succeed Diaz as head of the chapel embattled by poor attendance in the past three years since it was opened and dedicated to Filipino Catholics, the spokesman added.

Apart from serving as director of the chapel, Fr. Diaz is also coordinator of the Filipino Apostolate of the Archdiocese of New York, a position he’s holding since 1995 when the late John Cardinal O’Connor established the archdiocesan Filipino Apostolate.

In an interview with Zwilling last week, he repeatedly confirmed the Jan. 31, 2009 closing of the Chapel, saying it “never really served the purpose of serving the broader Filipino community.”

“In the feedbacks that we have gotten from parishes all across the Archdiocese, the Filipino community integrates and wants to be a part of their local parish community rather than travelling to as separate chapel or church designated for Filipinos,” Zwilling remarked earlier.

He continued: “Had there been more parishioners, financial support would have followed. But Filipinos didn’t leave their parishes in the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Westchester and elsewhere in Manhattan to go to San Lorenzo Ruiz.”

To know more about the chapel, visit "

The same edition of Catholic New York that features Court Stays Demolition of Our Lady of Vilnius Church also has a small piece on Father Erno Diaz. I could not locate this item online. It is on page 7 of the print edition and states that Fr. Diaz will receive a new archdiocesan assignment at the end of January.

By way of commentary, I can only say "Huh?"


Anonymous said...

The Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz is more than close to my heart. Took care of it & serve its community like home & family.However, I rather see Our Lady of Vilnius Church open--- your community of faith is rightfully deserving.

Nobody's Wife said...

I think that they both have their place in the archdiocese. I wish that the archdiocese would collaborate with us in creating solutions instead of demonstrating their power. Why do they want to manifest their might rather than their compassion?

Anonymous said...

The Archdiocese did come up with a solution--replacing the former Chapel/Filipino Apostolate leadership (his entourage & loyalists) which I truly embraced with praising hands up high!Now much work has to be done requiring more genuine commitment( really excellent/solid stewardship). Never get tired doing what's right & what's good!