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Opus Dei Assumes Responsibility for St. Agnes Church


Opus Dei has accepted Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s invitation to assume responsibility for the pastoral care and administration of St. Agnes — the well-known parish serving the area around New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.

St. Agnes is probably best known as the church where Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen would often celebrate Mass. In fact, the block of 43rd Street between Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue is officially known as Fulton Sheen Place.

In a statement, Cardinal Dolan said of the transfer, “I warmly welcome the prelature of Opus Dei as a partner in serving the people of God of this archdiocese. The parishioners of St. Agnes, I am sure, will quickly come to know and appreciate their apostolic zeal in preaching the Gospel and serving the religious and sacramental needs of the people entrusted to their care.”

St. Agnes, located at 143 East 43rd St., was founded in 1873. The original church was destroyed in a 1992 fire. The current building was constructed on the same site and was consecrated in 1998.

Though the parish only has 350 parishioners on its register, it offers six Masses a day to serve the business and commuter population in the vicinity. The parish has offered a traditional Latin Mass on Sunday mornings for many years. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is offered every afternoon until 5pm, and Communion is received kneeling.

This is actually the second parish church in the United States to be entrusted to Opus Dei. The first was Chicago’s St. Mary of the Angels, done at the request of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1991.

Father Michael Barrett, 63, will begin his pastorship at St. Agnes on July 1 and will be assisted by other Opus Dei priests. A native New Yorker, he graduated from Columbia University in 1974 and subsequently worked on Wall Street as an account executive for Merrill Lynch, before being ordained a priest in 1985 by St. John Paul II. Since 2013, he has served as theological adviser to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.

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