KINGSTON, N.Y., June 28 (UPI) -- New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan blessed a restored Catholic Charities building Friday for the second time. The building burned down after his first blessing.
"I don't know what happened to the first one, but you're not getting your money back," Dolan said to laughs from an audience of more than 400 at the Father Edmund Burke Ulster County Catholic Charities Community Center in Kingston, N.Y.
"Today I'm going to use Perrier water," the New York archbishop joked.
"This one better work."
The three-story, 18,000-square-foot center, at a former Catholic school, was less than two weeks from an early January 2011 opening, following a $2 million state-funded renovation, when a massive December 2010 fire ravaged it four days before Christmas, leaving nothing but a brick shell.
"This is a fire retardant too," Dolan said to laughter Friday as he sprinkled holy water during his blessing.
The nation's leading Roman Catholic bishop had blessed the 1911 building before the Dec. 21, 2011, fire. The cause of the blaze was never determined, but investigators said it was not intentionally set.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York paid for the structure's rebuilding, which faced damage-related setbacks twice in 2011 from tropical storms Irene and Lee.
The center now provides social services through Catholic Charities, organized sports programs through the Catholic Youth Organization and a migrant Head Start program through Agri-Business Child Development, a non-profit public-private agency.