Archbishop celebrates mass in Port Richmond

August 22, 2010 3:18:02 PM PDT
It was standing room only inside Saint Mary's of the Assumption Church at 11 on Sunday morning because of the congregation's special guest.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan celebrated mass in Port Richmond.

Archbishop Dolan spoke about a subject that couldn't be ignored, the recent wave of alleged bias attacks on Staten Island.

"God is our father, He wants us all to be his children, and He wants to gather us together in the unity of His kingdom. And I said do we ever need to hear that in a neighborhood that we all love and claim as our own but which is troubled and doesn't live up to that dream," Archbishop Dolan said.

The archbishop said he is saddened by the events but reminded churchgoers to never lose hope.

Dolan visited the parish and delivered the mass entirely in Spanish.

There have been at least 11 alleged bias attacks against Hispanics on Staten Island since April, and 1 other attack on a gay couple.

The latest happened in West Brighton on Wednesday.

A 15-year-old boy says his iPod was stolen at knifepoint.

As a result, police have stepped up patrols in parts of the borough, especially in Port Richmond.

Many in the community say they are afraid to walk the streets because of these attacks.

After mass, some churchgoers explained the archbishop's show of support made them feel like they are a community that will not be forgotten.

"I'm really disappointed that this is happening. These are people who work very hard. No one works harder than these good people," said churchgoer, Pat Harder.

Six police officers stood in front of the church during the service.

Inside, Archbishop Dolan said the Catholic church welcomes the challenge of establishing peace and unity in the community by outreach and education.