The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico: Neil Connolly's Priesthood in the South Bronx (Hardback)Angel Garcia (author)
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How the South Bronx and Puerto Rican migration defined Fr. Neil Connolly's priesthood as he learned to both serve and be part of his community
South Bronx, 1958. Change was coming. Guidance was sorely needed to bridge the old and the new, for enunciating and implementing a vision. It was a unique place and time in history where Father Neil Connolly found his true calling and spiritual awakening. The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico captures the spirit of the era and the spirit of this great man.
Set in historical context of a changing world and a changing Catholic Church, The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico follows Fr. Neil Connolly's path through the South Bronx, which began with a special Church program to address the postwar great Puerto Rican migration. After an immersion summer in Puerto Rico, Fr. Neil served the largest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the Bronx from the 1960s to the 1980s as they struggled for a decent life. Through the teachings of Vatican II, Connolly assumed responsibility for creating a new Church and world. In the war against drugs, poverty, and crime, Connolly created a dynamic organization and chapel run by the people and supported Unitas, a nationally unique peer-driven mental health program for youth. Frustrated by the lack of institutional responses to his community's challenges, Connolly challenged government abandonment and spoke out against ill-conceived public plans. Ultimately, he realized that his priestly mission was in developing new leaders among people, in the Church and the world, and supporting two nationally unique lay leadership programs, the Pastoral Center and People for Change.
Discovering the real mission of priesthood, urban ministry, and the Catholic Church in the United States, author Angel Garcia ably blends the dynamic forces of Church and world that transformed Fr. Connolly as he grew into his vocation. The book presents a rich history of the South Bronx and calls for all urban policies to begin with the people, not for the people. It also affirms the continuing relevance of Vatican II and Medellin for today's Church and world, in the United States and Latin America.
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Number of pages: 336
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico is an engaging study of the dedicated and charismatic Irish-American priest of the archdiocese of New York and the vicar of the South Bronx, Father Neil Connolly, who was widely respected, far beyond the confines of his own faith community, for his efforts in the poorest congressional district in the United States. Pope Francis would have been proud of him because he shared Francis's values and priorities, especially his commitment to the poor. Angel Garcia offers here a valuable introduction to the role of the Catholic Church in the survival and revival of the South Bronx. -- Msgr. Thomas J. Shelley, Emeritus Professor of Church History at Fordham University
The Puerto Rican migration after the Second World War challenged the New York Catholic Church. Thanks to the efforts of priests like Fr. Neil Connolly, as well as the people themselves, the Church rose to the challenge, with good will and on-going discernment. Conducted with the people, organizing campaigns involving other priests and religious and lay church workers of the South Bronx, many were invited into cooperation, solidarity and spirituality by Fr. Connolly...Angel Garcia captures the spirit of the era, and the spirit of the man. -- Fr. James Joyce, S.J., former Director of Social Ministries for the New York Province of the Society of Jesus and the past Chair of the Board of Jesuit Social Ministries.
The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico: Neil Connolly's Priesthood in the South Bronx by Angel Garcia (Dec. 1, $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8232-8926-4) follows Friar Connolly's career within the South Bronx, which began with a special church program to address the postwar Great Puerto Rican Migration. * Publishers Weekly *
Angel Garcia captures the heart and the leadership of Fr. Neil in his history, The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico: Neil Connolly's Priesthood in the South Bronx. Fr. Neil was bigger than life but a humble priest who followed his call to preach the Gospel with an uncanny sense of leadership and community organizing. He carried those gifts that he developed in his work in the South Bronx all the way to the Lower East Side. He believed in the priesthood of the laity and formed people to step up to leadership roles in parish and, in particular, Small Christian Communities, where people shared faith and put it into action. His heart was in the parish but no matter what Fr. Neil was called to do, his wisdom and experience focused on developing leaders in order to effect change for the betterment of all. He was my mentor and friend who shaped my way of ministering in our church and beyond. -- Donna L. Ciangio, OP, D.Min.; Chancellor, Archdiocese of Newark; Board Trustee, Caldwell University; Faculty, Ministry Doctoral Program, Drew University; Chairperson, North American Forum for Small Christian Communities
Angel Garcia's The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico highlights the way that a single person, living with cultural humility and a commitment to radical solidarity, can contribute significantly to social justice. This text contributes to our understandings of the intersection between religious faith and community organizing by offering us a vivid case study of the life of Neil Connolly and the South Bronx. -- Dr. Emily Welty, Director of Peace and Justice Studies, Pace University
From a makeshift confessional in a country store in a bucolic Puerto Rican mountain town to the crime and vermin infested streets of the South Bronx, this book traces one priest's effort to bring to life the
Kingdom among God's people at a time of political turbulence and ecclesiastical change. Much like McNamee's Diary of a City Priest, Garcia's The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico gives the reader the compelling story of an urban priest's failures and successes, hopes and frustrations, as he faces incalcitrant city and ecclesiastical systems, while remaining true to his priestly vocation and commitment
to the Puerto Rican Catholic community. A testament to the unsung heroes who labored incessantly for the spiritual and social well-being of those whose voices often have been silenced, this book offers a
credible interpretation of the ups and downs of urban ministry post Vatican II.
As a deacon and priest in the South Bronx I came to know, respect and admire Fr. Neil Connolly. After reading this book I have come to admire him even more. This biography affords valuable lessons for urban parish community organizers in the United States and for the dialog with the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean." -- Roberto O. Gonzalez Nieves, OFM, Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico
The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico is a story of how a priest struggled to live the call of the Second Vatican Council, and how he worked alongside laypeople for social justice in the Bronx. It joins books like The Virgin of El Barrio and Guadalupe in New York in bringing readers into a world of grassroots Catholic activism and a church that lives in protest and community organization. * National Catholic Reporter *
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