Saintliness isn't what people normally associate with gritty New York City. Regardless, Gotham has produced three saints, one venerable, ten Servants of God and a couple of hopefuls. This might seem disproportionate but not when one considers the total population.
"A saint is anyone who is in heaven," according to Paulist Fr. Paul Robichaud, postulator for the cause of Fr. Isaac Thomas Hecker, the Paulist founder. "A canonized saint is someone who the Church determines to actually be in God's presence." He should know. He went to saint school.
Fr. Robichaud actually graduated from the Vatican's "Saint School," a four-month crash course on "How to Make a Saint."
"To become a saint, a candidate's life must be thoroughly investigated," Fr. Robichaud explained to the Register. "Once the cause has been introduced and approved by the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, the candidate may be referred to as 'Servant of God.' The next step is 'Venerable' which allows the candidate to be petitioned for a miracle." "Once the miracle is granted, investigated and approved," Fr. Robichaud said, "the person is beatified and may be referred to as 'Blessed.' Upon verification of a second miracle, the person is canonized and referred to as "Saint."
The following is list of New Yorkers, or those whose ministries were principally in New York, in various stages of the canonization process, from actual saints to the eternally hopeful:
- St. Isaac Jogues (1607–1646) — Jesuit Martyr and Apostle to the Iroquois and Huron. The first Catholic priest to offer Mass in Manhattan.
- St. Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton, (1774–1821) — The "Daughter of New York" was a convert to Catholicism and the first native-born American citizen to be canonized. He founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children, New York City's first private charitable organization and the Sisters of Charity.
- St. John Neumann (1811–1860) — The Bohemian-born missionary was ordained in New York City and dedicated himself to working with the poor of the City for many years before becoming bishop of Philadelphia.
- St. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850 –1917) — "The Patron of Immigrants" was born in Italy. Mother Cabrini is the first American citizen to be canonized. She wanted to be a missionary in China. Thankfully Pope Leo XIII sent her to New York City instead. Her relics are enshrined in the church's altar at St. Frances Cabrini Shrine, in Manhattan. Coincidently, St. Katharine Drexel helped direct Mother Cabrini when the later started her ministry.
- Ven. Pierre Toussaint (1766–1853) — A freed Haitian slave who became the City's most popular hairdresser. He helped finance New York City's first cathedral, St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. He's the only layperson to be buried in the crypt under new St. Patrick's Cathedral.
- Ven. Solanus Casey (1870-1957) — A Capuchin priest known for his great faith, humility, compassion and his ministry as spiritual counselor. He worked for many years in Harlem, New York City.
- Mother Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory, O.Carm (1893-1984) — An Irish nun who founded the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. She opened 59 homes for the elderly in America, Scotland and Ireland.
Servants of God
- Fr. Felix Varela 1788–1853) — An abolitionist, scholar, scientist and priest was born of a wealthy Cuban family but gave it up in order to serve the poorest of the poor among Irish immigrants of the Lower East Side.
- Fr. Isaac Thomas Hecker (1819–1888) — Priest and founder of the Paulist Fathers was himself, a Protestant convert to Catholicism. He lived during particularly turbulent and anti-Catholic times. He envisioned a day when all of America would convert to the Church.
- Sr. Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (1851–1926) — Daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Protestant convert to Catholicism. She was an American Roman Catholic religious sister and social worker. She founded the St. Rose's Free Home for Incurable Cancer in Manhattan's Lower East Side. She founded the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne.
- Fr. Stephen Eckert, OFM, Cap (1869-1923) — Canadian-born Capuchin who ministered to black Americans in Harlem, New York and in Milwaukee and breaking down racial barriers.
- Archbishop Fulton John Sheen (1895–1979) —The definitive televangelist. His nationally-syndicated series, The Fulton Sheen Program and Life is Worth Living attracted 30 million people every week. He was national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith for eight years later becoming Bishop of Rochester.
- Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896–1985) — Russian convert to Catholicism, author, mystic, peace and justice activist and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate. She is best known for introducing the concept of poustinia to Western Christianity.
- Dorothy Day (1897–1980) — Pacifist, peace and justice activist and atheist convert to Catholicism. She dedicated her life to fighting for justice for the homeless in New York City. Her Catholic Worker movement has spread throughout the world.
- Cardinal Terence J. Cooke (1921–1983) — Archbishop of New York City from 1968 until his death; known for his kindness, compassion, humility and selflessness.
Candidates for Canonization
- Msgr. Bernard Quinn (1888–1940) — On January 13, 2008, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn officially approved the promotion of Msgr. Bernard Quinn, a Brooklyn Diocesan priest known for his ministry to Black Catholics. He established the Brooklyn Diocese's first two parishes for black Catholics. Fr. Paul Jervis, the current pastor and main promoter of Msgr. Quinn's cause, said, "We have high hopes Msgr. Quinn will soon be declared a Servant of God. Our whole parish is praying."
- Bishop Francis Xavier Ford (1946 - 1952) — Maryknoll priest who was appointed bishop of Kaying, China. He was imprisoned, tortured and ultimately martyred for his faith in Christ by Chinese Communists when they took over the country. The Chinese authorities consider him an "enemy of the people" and have refused to provide details of his life, ministry or even the disposition of his remains.