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People of Life Awards

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All of us were shocked by the recent revelations concerning Planned Parenthood harvesting organs from aborted children and then marketing those organs. On the one hand Planned Parenthood wants us to believe that a fetus is not a child, but on the other hand they are harvesting human organs from the fetuses.

It’s very macabre and shocking given the history of Planned Parenthood, which was founded to eliminate poor people. We see that once again they put a price tag on life.

In my role as chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops I issued the following statement  in response to recent videos showing leaders from Planned Parenthood discussing the provision of fetal organs, tissues, and body parts from their abortion clinics:

Pope Francis has called abortion the product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.” The recent news stories concerning Planned Parenthood direct our attention to two larger issues involving many institutions in our society. The first is abortion itself: a direct attack on human life in its most vulnerable condition. The second is the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues through abortion. Both actions fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life. This fact should be the center of attention in the present public controversy.

If the Planned Parenthood news coverage has caused anyone to experience revived trauma from their own involvement in abortion, be assured that any and all persons will be welcomed with compassion and assistance through the Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel.  If you or someone you know would like confidential, nonjudgmental help, please visit www.projectrachel.com.
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Last Saturday I ordained a new transitional deacon. Tom Olson, who was a Jesuit seminarian who has come to the archdiocese, was ordained in St. Columbkille’s, the parish where he has been working.





The parishioners were very pleased to be having an ordination there, and a number of priests from the archdiocese accompanied us. Father Bill Palardy was there from Pope St. John XXIII, where Deacon Olson has been studying for the last year. He’ll be part of the next ordination class, which will be next spring.

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That afternoon I met with Abbot Archimandrite Nicholas Zachariadis from Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, Wisconsin. He was sent by Bishop David L. Ricken for a visit and to tell me about their experience in Eastern Monasticism. It was a very nice visit.


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I had the Spanish Mass at the Cathedral on Sunday, and then the next day I went to the pro-life conference in Kansas City, Kansas where I celebrated Mass in the with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and a number of priests.


It was a meeting of the diocesan directors of pro-life ministry and other pro-life organizations.


That evening after the Mass, we had an awards banquet at which three pro-life leaders were honored. I presented the awards.

Nancy Valko, Molly Kelly, and Michael Taylor received the 2015 People of Life Award for their pro-life commitments throughout their lives. There were pro-life leaders from more than 120 dioceses, and the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities sponsored the dinner. Nancy, who has experience as a nurse and serves as spokesperson for the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, was recognized for her work on disability and end-of-life issues. Molly received the award for her time serving the Church as a pro-life speaker and chastity educator. Michael received the award for 46 years working as a leader in the pro-life movement. The award is given for answering the call of Evangelium Vitae by Pope St. John Paul II, and we value and appreciate the work of these pro-life leaders.
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Wednesday we had a reception at the United Nations Nunciature in New York to talk about the works of the New Evangelization and particularly of our efforts to expand our Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

The seminary is located at the old rectory of St. Lawrence in Chestnut Hill, but it is at full capacity and cannot host all the seminarians. There are currently 24 seminarians assigned to the Redemptoris Mater and we hope to expand that number as soon as we can host them in the new facilities.


We are very grateful to Archbishop Bernardito Ausa for his hospitality and support.

A number of benefactors interested in the seminary and our plans for the future were assembled there.

We are very grateful to Marina Perna for arranging to bring this group of people together.
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From there I flew to Washington to attend the funeral of Cardinal Baum today.

Until my next post

In Christ

Cardinal Seán

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Attending the Steubenville East Conference

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Hello and welcome,

We learned with great sadness yesterday that, William Cardinal Baum, the former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington had passed away. In addition to his ministry in Washington, he had been the former Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the former Grand Penitentiary.

U.S. Cardinal William W. Baum, who died July 23 at age 88 after a long illness, is pictured in a 2008. He was archbishop of Washington from 1973 to 1980 and a cardinal for 39 years, the longest such tenure in U.S. church history. (CNS photo/Paul Fetters, courtesy Archdiocese of Washington) See OBIT-BAUM July 24, 2015.
Cardinal Baum came to Washington in the 1970s, at a time when there was great conflict in the archdiocese and chose for his motto Ministerium reconciliationis, “The ministry of reconciliation”. His motto reflected his gentle and kind pastoral approach, which was a very important means of healing many divisions in the archdiocese.

At the time I was at the Centro Catolico and he was very supportive of Hispanic ministry, allowing us to organize and expand pastoral services to the newly arriving immigrants throughout the archdiocese. He was also very supportive of the Hispanic newspaper “El Pregonero,” the Hispanic diaconate program and many other initiatives that responded to what was really the beginning of an enormous wave of Catholic immigration into the Archdiocese of Washington.

For the last few years he had been living at the house of the Little Sisters of the Poor on Harewood Road in Washington, very near Catholic University. He was a very dear friend and I was always happy to see him.

In the last couple of years he’s been more limited in his mobility, but I would occasionally be able to visit him and he was always very engaged and interested in everything that was happening in the Church. He was a very cultured gentleman who was very much committed to the intellectual life of the Church and very much involved in ecumenical outreach to other churches.

Though there have been three archbishops in Washington since the time he left, he is still fondly remembered. His long years of ministry were characterized by his gentleness, kindliness, gentlemanliness and his concern for people. He will be sorely missed.

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Earlier this week, in my role as the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Pro-Life Affairs, I issued a statement together with Archbishop Wenski, the chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, calling for an end to the death penalty in our country.USCCB-Logo

Since the time of St. John Paul II, the death penalty has been seen as one of the issues that needs to be addressed in our modern world, as part of our commitment to the Gospel of Life and to show how precious life is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the papal magisterium reflect this important idea.

There are very few countries in the modern world that still apply the death penalty. The only justification for the death penalty is self-defense and the inability of the country to provide any other type of solution. Here, in the wealthiest and most technologically advanced country in the history of the world, we have alternatives to capital punishment. Therefore, we have an obligation to abolish the death penalty and initiate alternatives.

I’d like to share the text of that statement with you here:

Ten years ago, the Catholic bishops of the United States initiated the Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty. Speaking as pastors and teachers, we issued a statement at that time, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, in which we considered the reality of capital punishment in the United States. We urged a prudential examination of the use of the death penalty, with the aim of helping to build “a culture of life in which our nation will no longer try to teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. This cycle of violence diminishes all of us.”

Since that time, significant gains have been made. Several states, including New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland and most recently Nebraska, have ended the use of the death penalty, and other states have enacted moratoria. Death sentences are at their lowest level since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done, and we must recommit ourselves to end this practice in our country.

We join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in anticipation of the forthcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, and renew our efforts in calling for the end of the use of the death penalty:

“Today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed. It is an offense against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person, one which contradicts God’s plan for man and society and his merciful justice, and impedes the penalty from fulfilling any just objective. It does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.”

– Pope Francis, March 20, 2015

Our faith tradition offers a unique perspective on crime and punishment, one grounded in mercy and healing, not punishment for its own sake. No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so. Today, we have this capability.

We are all sinners, but through the Father’s loving mercy and Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice upon the Cross, we have been offered the gift of life everlasting. The Lord never ceases his loving pursuit of us in our sin and brokenness, offering us the choice of life over death. The use of the death penalty cuts short any prospect for transforming the condemned person’s soul in this life. Catholic opposition to the death penalty, then, is rooted in mercy. It is also eminently pro-life, as it affords every opportunity for conversion, even of the hardened sinner. As followers of Jesus, we have the “inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life” (Evangelium Vitae, # 20).

Our Catholic faith affirms our solidarity with and support for victims of crime and their families. We commit ourselves to walk with them and assure them of the Church’s compassion and care, ministering to their spiritual, physical and emotional needs in the midst of deep pain and loss. We also acknowledge the inherent human dignity of those who have committed grave harm, affirming that, even as they repay a debt to society, they too should receive compassion and mercy. As we seek to tend to the eternal needs of those who commit serious crimes we must build up a culture of life in matters of justice and punishment.

The Church’s opposition to the death penalty should not be seen as indifference to the sinfulness of crime and attacks on human life, but as an affirmation of the sacredness of all life even for those who have committed the most heinous of crimes. As Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, whose own father was murdered, recently said: “Our refusal to resort to the death penalty is not because we fail to appreciate the horror of the crime committed, but because we refuse to imitate violent criminals.”

Through our recommitment to work to end the use of the death penalty, we also renew the call for all people of good will to:

1. Pray for victims of crime, those facing execution, and those working in the criminal justice system;

2. Reach out to the families of those affected by violent crime by bringing Christ’s love and compassion;

3. Learn about the Church’s teaching on capital punishment and educate others in this vital area of concern;

4. Advocate for better public policies to protect society and end the use of the death penalty.

The Scriptures remind us: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Lk 5:7). As Christians, we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope, and mercy. To help build a culture of life, capital punishment should be abolished.


Faithfully In Christ,

Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski

Archbishop of Miami

Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development


Seán Cardinal O’Malley

Archbishop of Boston

Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities

There are so many aspects of the criminal justice system that are broken and require reform. Nearly a quarter of all incarcerated people in the world are in U.S prisons or jails, and the percentage of those prisoners who are minorities is astonishing. African-American men comprise a mere 6 percent of the American population, but according to the Department of Justice, they make up nearly half of the 2 million inmates in this country. The Huntington Post recently reported: “there are more African-American men incarcerated in the United States than the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined.”

These are moral issues that have a great impact in our country. Indeed, I would not be surprised if the Holy Father addresses some of these issues when he makes his visit to the U.S. later this year.

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Also this week, a conference was held at the Vatican with mayors and local government officials from throughout the world on the problems of climate change and human trafficking.

The conference, “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of the Cities,” was held by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. On this Academy they have established experts — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — who study different themes that have an ethical and social dimension. LAUDATO-MAYORS

We are very happy that Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston was able to represent us at this gathering.

It is ironic that some people see faith as being in contrast to reason and science. Instead, throughout history, the Church has always been a leader in trying to promote scientific knowledge and discovery. This Vatican Academy continues in that same tradition, trying to promote science and ensure that scientific genius serves the common good and is not used for selfish or violent ends.

As we have commented before when the Holy Father’s encyclical Laudato Si’ came out, the Holy Father makes a very clear connection between the situation of the poor in the world and the fragility of the environment. The conference held this week in Rome reflects those themes that are so well delineated in that encyclical.

Within the Holy See, there is a very strong awareness that the population of the world is very quickly moving from rural areas into large metropolitan cities. There have been many conferences on the issue, including when I was invited to address in Milan on evangelizing the cities. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Holy See, particularly this type of Academy, would reach out to mayors of major cities to invite them to be part of this reflection on these themes.

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Saturday, I went to Pittsburgh for the profession of four Capuchin novices.IMG_4371IMG_4378

The profession was held in the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of Millvale. The motherhouse is very close to our provincial headquarters.IMG_4372

This is a community of sisters who were originally of German origin, so they had a very close connection with the Capuchins when we were running German parishes in the area.

These were also the sisters who worked in the missions with us. One of them was Sister Jane Schmidt, who worked with me in the Virgin Islands many years ago. She helped set the Third Order community on St. Croix and she is now living at the motherhouse.IMG_4379

On a wall in the motherhouse is a map of all the mission countries where the sisters work.IMG_4373

This is a picture of the newly professed with some of the other Friars. In the photo is Bishop Bill Fey, who is the Bishop of Kimbe in New Guinea, who was also there for the profession.


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On Sunday, I went to Lowell for the closing Mass of the Steubenville East Catholic Youth Conference that was held at the Tsongas Center there. It was a wonderful event, attended by nearly 3000 young people.SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-21

SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-03SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-01SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-05SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-04In my homily, I spoke to them about the gospel reading from Mark 6.

In the gospel reading for the previous Sunday, Jesus sends the apostles out two-by-two. This, I said, was Jesus’s training program for the apostles, the formation of leaders and that’s what I said Steubenville East is about. Then, in the gospel reading we had that day, we see those novice apostles coming back, all excited and sharing their experiences.SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-06

I said that the Sunday gospel of the apostles coming back shows the two modes of Christian life: one is gathering in a secret place with Jesus to be renewed and the other is being out “running the field hospital” and preaching the gospel. That pericope of the gospel is sandwiched between two banquet scenes. The first is Herod’s birthday party where they killed John the Baptist, which puts in context the sense of urgency — as well as the dangers and difficulties — of the ministry to which these twelve apostles are being sent out. They are taking up where John the Baptist is ending.

Then, after the passage of the Sunday gospel, is where Jesus performs the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. So I told the young people, we have to choose, do you want be part of Herod’s banquet or do you want to be part of Jesus’s banquet?


At the end, we had an altar call for those considering a vocation to priesthood or consecrated life. Before making the call, I spoke to them about having a sense of vocation, saying that their happiness and happiness of many other people, will depend on their making the right vocation decision. If you don’t have that sense of vocation, you can make the wrong choice and that will introduce chaos and sadness into your life.SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-20SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-15SteubenvilleEast_CPineo-17

I mentioned the story of the rich young man who, when Jesus told him to leave everything he owns and follow him, went away sad. Hearing that story, you almost want to chase him down the street saying, “Come back, you dummy! Your decision is making you sad, but don’t you see it is also depriving all those people you would have affected had you followed your vocation?”

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Having just had the gospel that morning about the apostles coming back two-by-two and telling Jesus their experience, later that day I had a living experience of much the same thing.IMG_6984

Over the previous ten days or so, following the example of the apostles in the gospel, 800 members of the Neocatechumenal Way had fanned out two-by-two throughout the United States to announce the Good News wherever they went. They came without money or possessions, just depending on upon God’s providence, as the gospel the previous Sunday had said.

Groups came to all four dioceses of Massachusetts and we had seven pairs of men visit the archdiocese of Boston. As their journey was coming to an end, I met with several of them at the Cathedral to hear how it went.IMG_3626IMG_3633

It was interesting to hear their experience, even in some cases an experience of homelessness and living with homeless people. I was impressed that some reported back how kind the homeless people were to them, and that there was a charity among the very poor they had not been aware of before.

Several of them were priests, but there were also several laymen one of whom was John Leonard, the brother of Dorothea Leonard, who was a very close and dear friend of mine.DorotheaLeonard_1 I taught her at university, she was involved in the Third Order of St. Francis and the Neocatechumenal way, and was a teacher in a Catholic school — just a very holy woman. Meeting her brother was a nice treat!

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Finally, also this week I met with two young men sent by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the nuncio in Poland, to visit us here to talk about World Youth Day preparations and some of the communication issues involved. They came for lunch and met with Father Matt Williams and myself.IMG_6989

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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Reflections of a newly ordained priest: Fr. Andrea Filippucci

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Hello and welcome!

As I mentioned in my post of last week, each year at the beginning of July I like to invite one or two of our newly ordained priests to share their experiences with you.

This week, I like to share with you the reflection of Father Andrea Filippucci who is now serving his first assignment at St Patrick’s in Lawrence.

– Cardinal Seán

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Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Andrea Filippucci and I was born in Rome, Italy, on June 1st 1986. I am the sixth of eleven children: six brothers and five sisters!


My parents, Piergiorgio and Lucia Stefania, were very faithful Catholics, and missionaries for the Catholic Church. Before I was even born, they had already been sent by Saint John Paul II to announce the Good News in Umbria, a central region of Italy.clip_image004

My father was a nuclear engineer who left his job, his career and his family, in order to follow Christ through this particular call for his family. This fact clearly influenced me in my life. From an early age, I saw how God truly provides, and how money and career gain their proper importance when we put the love of God first.

My childhood was fantastic. I loved having a big family, praying with them, going to Church together…having great Sunday meals! Sunday was always a special day! I was very close to my father, I would follow him wherever he went. Thinking about it, I don’t know what the reason was! But I truly loved being with him.

All of this came to a sudden end when, on February 13, 1997, my father died suddenly as he was praying. He was 45 and my mother was pregnant with their eleventh child. He had always been a healthy person and had never had any health issues. That morning, he dropped us off at school and nobody would have ever imagined something like this. It was a true shock.

When I saw that a friend of the family had come to pick us up at school, I knew that something had happened. I came home and everybody was silent. My mother called us, one by one, in a room, and she told us the news. Then, she opened the bible. I have no recollection of what happened after that. I just remember telling God in my heart that I hated Him and that I would never forgive Him. I was only 10 years old, and my father was gone forever.

As my anger built up inside, I began to look for a release valve, but I know that I was inexorably on a downward spiral. By the time I was 15 or 16, I was in open rebellion against God and my family. I could not accept that they still believed in a God whom I thought was either powerless or cruel. My two older brothers tried to “save the ship” and they tried to help me best as they could. Needless to say, there were many fights in the family. I was not alone after all; one of my brothers felt like me, even though he had never said that, and we formed a sort of alliance in order to “bring down the government”!clip_image005

At that time, I decided I had left the Church for good and I started hanging out with my friends more and more. I would go out almost every day or every night to be with my friends or my girlfriend. To show my independence, I even pierced my ear three times!

Clearly, my mother wasn’t happy but at this point I had convinced myself that I didn’t care. Nonetheless, I was like a man desperately looking for a well to draw water, except that the more I drank, the thirstier I became. It’s as if the waters had been poisoned: I looked for happiness, but I could not find it.

In 2004, when I was 18, everything changed. That must have been the worst year of my life. I was literarily going crazy, searching for something real in this life. I had excluded God a priori, but nothing was ever enough. I always needed more: more money, more friends, more girls, more everything. I was never satisfied. I guess that’s what moved me toward a change, my inconsolable and deep dissatisfaction and, at the darkest hour of my adult life, the light of Christ began to appear in the horizon.

That summer, after a series of reckless events, my mother gave me an ultimatum: I either accepted to spend the summer working at a Catholic center in Israel or I was on my own. That’s when I decided to take up her offer and ended up going to the Domus Galilaeae. clip_image009

clip_image011However, I went with an agenda of my own. First, I felt that I could use a break from my life, and second, I went to prove to all these people that God truly does not exist. As it turned out, the opposite is what really happened. clip_image017

My time in Israel was fantastic. I don’t really know how it happened but, little by little, I began to listen to the Word of God and to the words of the priest in charge, Father Rino Rossi. He gained my trust and I began talking to him.

Among the many things we discussed, I remember only two: First, God loved me as I was. I didn’t need to be perfect, He made me, He loved me. Second, God is behind every event of our life. He is God after all. And this point really caught my interest because, even if I would never admit it, I was still scandalized by my father’s death. Yet, these two things really resonated within me and, little by little, I began to be more open to the idea that maybe God really loved me. clip_image013

clip_image015After that summer my life changed. I went back to Italy and began to seriously think about my life and my vocation. Even though I had abandoned the Church, I found out that she was there, waiting for me to come back in the form of my Neocatechumenal Way community. It is exactly through this tool of rediscovery of baptism that God won me back. I began to attend church and participate in the Neocatechumenal Way faithfully and little by little God began to heal my many wounds. To make a long story short, after a time of discernment and another year in Israel, I realized that God was the only one who could make me happy. As I said, I had looked for happiness everywhere, without finding it. Now happiness was coming to me and I knew where to find it! That’s why for my diaconate card, I chose the verse from the Song of Songs: “I have searched for the love of my life, I searched but I did not find it. I have found the love of my life, I have embraced him and I’ll not let him go” (4, 8ff).

As I further explored my vocation, I found myself entering the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Rome, which was the first of many such international seminaries inspired by Saint Pope John Paul II to prepare clergy to be sent anywhere in the world there was a need. Here I spent a year discerning my vocation and, the following year in 2007, I was sent by lottery to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Boston in 2007. I can say today, that I really won that lottery!


In Boston I had a wonderful formation and I am eternally grateful to my formators and to Cardinal Sean, for his support and inspiration. clip_image021

As part of my formation, I spent three years in mission, living and working in Colorado, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. This time of mission was pivotal in my vocation. I was able to touch with my own hands the need for priests and for God in people’s lives.


The 40-plus people that came from Italy, together with the 20 people that came from Utah for my ordination to the Priesthood on May 23rd, came to witness what God had done with me and remind me of where the I Lord had rescued me from. I was very happy and am extremely grateful for a new life, a second chance in life better than I could have ever imagined.





As for my first assignment, I was assigned by the Cardinal as Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence, a great parish with many challenges and lots of work. In the short time that I have spent here, I have already seen the action and the power of the Holy Spirit and I am sure that God sent me here to learn how not to live for myself.


I pray that God will keep me always faithful to what I have received and that He may give me the strength and the wisdom to be a faithful shepherd, “a shepherd after his own heart” (Jer 3: 15). Please remember me in your prayers, especially you, the faithful readers of Cardinal Sean’s blog. Please keep me and the other four men ordained with me in your prayers.

May the class of 2015 give glory to God and be forever remembered for its love of God and of His people.

God bless you.


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Reflections of a newly ordained priest: Fr. Chris Lowe

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Hello and welcome!

I hope you are all having a restful and enjoyable summer!

Around this time each year, I like to give a couple of our newly ordained priests an opportunity to share their experiences with you. I think it is wonderful to way for you to hear their stories in their own words and get to know them a little better.

This week, we will hear from Father Chris Lowe and next week Father Andrew Filippucci will share his reflection with you.

– Cardinal Seán

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874–1963)

If there is a “typical” path to the priesthood, it would probably be the young man attending college and then entering a seminary. After years of formation, that young man would be ordained a priest in his mid to late twenties. I took the “road less traveled” and it has been an amazing journey.image001

Early in my life, I served as an altar boy in South Portland, Maine, where I grew up. I had some thoughts that being a priest might be an option for me. I was active in my church, even then. Beginning in Junior High School, I became an organist at my parish. But those thoughts of priesthood quickly dispersed when I took Chemistry in High School and found that I had a passion for the subject.

I went to the University of Maine in Orono, and stayed active in the Newman Center there as an organist in a folk group. There, I met a young woman named Carmen, who played the guitar. Now I must admit, we did not like each other at first, but a friendship grew and eventually we began dating. I graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1979. She graduated the next year and we were married soon after.

Within a year, we moved to Massachusetts for better jobs. Within 2 years, my company sent me to Arizona for 3 years and then we settled into our home of almost 30 years in Ayer, Massachusetts. image004

Wedding, 1979

We were both well employed and had a pretty good life together. There were bumps in the road, we were not blessed with children, but we shared 30 years of our lives together. I moved out of Chemical Engineering and into computer programming. To support this, I went back to school at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and received a Master’s in Computer Science in 1993. At that time, I vowed to never return to school. Do you want to hear God laugh? Just tell him your plans! Our plans included living a long and happy life together. Those plans also changed. One day, Carmen said to me, completely out of the blue, “If anything were to happen to me, you’d never remarry, you’d just become a priest.” She was a very wise woman.

In our travels and as we finally settled in Ayer, we continued to practice our faith. We were both active in the church and were part of a music ministry everywhere we went. In 1985, we joined St. Catherine’s Church in Westford and could be found there every Sunday, playing the organ (me), guitar (her) and singing with the music group. We helped to stage several musical productions and cabaret nights as well.

In 1998, Carmen fell on her tailbone and within two weeks began to develop some neurological problems. It was soon diagnosed as POEMS Syndrome and/or Castleman’s disease (depending on the doctor you spoke with). At the time, there were only 250 cases reported in the U.S. and she was given two years to live. Fortunately, we had eleven more years together. The disease took its toll and she became weaker, but that did not stop her from fighting and enjoying our vacations to Disneyworld. (I freely admit to being a Disney addict.) disney

Carmen just humored me, but we always enjoyed our time there. I would push her around the parks and we would see the sights, dine at the restaurants and just enjoy our time together.

Finally in December of 2009, Carmen died quietly in our bedroom at home. We knew that the time was close and had the time to say everything that a couple would want to say to each other before one of them died. It was a peaceful event surrounded by friends and family. I cannot describe how special that day was to us all.

After her death, I had the opportunity to consider new paths in my life. I was NOT thinking about the priesthood! Then out of a sound sleep, a voice woke me up, “Now will you follow me?” I did not think too much about it, but the next week in our church bulletin was a note, “Is God calling you to a vocation?” I signed up for a retreat at Pope St. John XXII National Seminary. POPESTJOHNLOGO2014-200x281

This retreat was less than 3 months after my wife’s death and was too early to enter, but I had to know more. (By the way, soon after this retreat, my Mom (who had been in an Alzheimer’s care unit) also passed away. My dad and I found we had even more in common.)

I spoke to my family and friends and they all said, “Of course you should” or “It’s about time.” Carmen’s prediction for my future life was about to come true. Her 30 years of love and helping me grow made me a much better man than I was. I don’t think I would have made a good priest right out of college. That “road less traveled” had curved around and was now pointing to the seminary and priesthood.

In the summer of 2011, I quit my job and put my house on the market. The house sold and I bought a condominium in Maine. My family moved into the condo and I have a place to visit on days off. That September, I entered a 4 year program at Pope St. John Seminary. This seminary is one of three seminaries in the US that specialize in older vocations. It is a national seminary, so men come here from all over the US and indeed the world.

image0071389My dad drove down from Maine when I was instituted as an Acolyte. I cannot remember a time that he was more proud of me. He kept telling everyone that he knew back in Maine that I was going to be a priest.

The 4 years went by very quickly. The days could drag, but the years flew by. I was assigned to parishes in Milton, Franklin, Hull, Manchester/Essex and Abington/Whitman for my pastoral work.image010

In January of this year, I was ordained a Deacon by Cardinal Sean and served in the Abington/Whitman “The Light of Christ Catholic Collaborative” until May. clip_image014On May 23rd, the Cardinal once again ordained me, this time as a priest. I celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at my home parish of St. Catherine’s in Westford, where Carmen and I had worshipped and provided music for so many years. My dad was glad to be able to make it to the ordination and Mass of Thanksgiving. At 95, he does not travel much, but he would not miss this for the world.N Andover_St Michael-5

I am currently assigned to St. Michael Parish in North Andover. My “road less traveled” to the priesthood has come to its conclusion. I do not have years of experience to offer to this congregation. I do have years of life experience that I trust will be relevant and helpful.N Andover_St Michael-7

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The Massachusetts March for Life

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Hello and welcome!

Friday, I celebrated the funeral Mass for Father Fred O’Brien at the Cathedral the Holy Cross. His nephew and family gathered with many people from the Hispanic community at the Cathedral to bid him farewell.

Father Bob Murray preached the homily and gave a very moving account of Father’s ministry.Frederick-OBrien

Father O’Brien was very devoted to the Spanish-speaking Catholics of Boston. In fact, he began the first regularly scheduled Spanish-language Mass celebrated in the archdiocese.

I had the pleasure of knowing Father O’Brien for many decades and in fact, he is one of the first priests of Boston I ever met. It was about 45 years ago. We had an association of directors of Hispanic ministries of the dioceses of the Northeast that would gather for meetings. I was director of Hispanic Ministry in Washington at the time, and Father O’Brien and Father Wendell Verrill would attend from Boston. So, I was very well acquainted with the wonderful work of Father O’Brien even from the time I was a newly ordained priest.

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Later that day, I received a number of visitors at the Cathedral. The first was Bishop Ildo Fortes of the Diocese of Mindelo in Cape Verde.IMG_4307-2

He was visiting the local Cape Verdean community here in the archdiocese and came for a visit. It was a very nice to have a chance meet him.

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I was also visited by a young physician, Dr. Tommy Hyne, who is very interested in the missionary aspects of the life of the Church and wanted to discuss those with me. IMG_4309-2

I told him I was very impressed by his necktie. He explained that, being a pediatrician, he always wears colorful ties to amuse the children. It certainly amused me!

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We also had a group of young altar servers from St. Francis Xavier Parish in Acushnet stop by the Cathedral with their pastor, Monsignor Gerard O’Connor. IMG_4304-2

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Sunday, I visited with the community of the Brotherhood of Hope. They have recently moved into the house that was formerly used by the Little Brothers of St. Francis on Mission Hill. So, I came to give the house a blessing.000_9459000_9464

During my visit, I celebrated Mass for the brothers and some guests who came to join them.000_9501

It was very good to be with them and to be able to thank them for all the work they do in the archdiocese, particularly with campus ministry and at the seminary. Of course, I am also very indebted to Father Robert Oliver, who provides invaluable help to me with his work at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children.000_9490

The brothers were very excited, because they were about to leave on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where two of their men will be making their profession on Mount Tabor. We pray that they have a safe journey and I know this will be a great moment of renewal and spiritual growth for the Brotherhood of Hope.

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Then, in the afternoon I attended the Massachusetts March for Life held on Boston Common.

We could have had better weather, but there was a very good crowd, despite the rain.The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo

The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo

There were a number of speakers at the rally before the March, and Father Matt Williams was very good and animating the crowd, leading the prayers and songs.

The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo

The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo 
We are very grateful to all those at the Massachusetts Citizens for Life who worked so hard to organize this very important March. We are also grateful for the many faithful people who came to participate, pray and witness to the Gospel of Life.The Massachusetts March for Life, held Sunday June 28, 2015 on Boston Common. 
Pilot photo/  Christopher S. Pineo

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Monday was the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Each year, we have an exchange of ecumenical delegations with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston on our respective feast days, mirroring the celebrations that take place in Rome and Constantinople. OrthodoxDelegation_CPineo_58OrthodoxDelegation_CPineo_59OrthodoxDelegation_CPineo_61

On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the ecumenical patriarch sends representatives to be part of the celebrations in Rome. Then on the Feast of St. Andrew, which is November 30, the Holy Father sends a representative to Constantinople to participate in the celebrations there.

At our celebration in Boston this year, Bishop Kennedy presided for us and Metropolitan Methodios was represented by Father Demetrios Tonias.OrthodoxDelegation_CPineo_63

I find the celebration to be a great way to bring Catholics and Orthodox together for prayer and fellowship. The apostles St. Peter and St. Andrew were brothers, and this exchange of delegations is a way of underscoring our very close relationship with the Orthodox Church, which is an Apostolic Church.

This year’s gathering had an added significance, since the Holy Father’s new encyclical on the care for creation, Laudato Si’, quotes extensively from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was very timely to be able to be together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters as we reflect on this new message of Pope Francis.

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Also this week, I approved the local pastoral plans presented by a number of the parishes participating in the first phase of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, Disciples In Mission.DisciplesInMissionLogo

These plans reflect the fruit of much reflection and creativity, as the local leaders in those parishes came together and prayerfully mapped out strategies for evangelization and faith formation in their collaboratives.

I congratulate and thank them for all the wonderful work that has been done!

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And finally, tomorrow is of course Independence Day, a very important day for remembering the great gift of our nation. But I would also like to remind everyone that, nationwide, the conclusion of the Fortnight for Freedom is being observed.fortnight-for-freedom-logo-color

We Catholics must always hold up the importance of religious freedom throughout the world. We know in many countries Christians are being persecuted for their faith. Yet, even in our own country, we see that there is less and less space for believers to express their religious convictions and live according to their conscience.

The erosion of conscience protection is a very serious threat to religious freedom in our country and so Catholics are called to be vigilant and remain aware of the repercussions of some legislation and regulations that the government is promoting.

The Closing Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom will be celebrated at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by Cardinal Wuerl at noon on the 4th of July. Though most of us will be unable to attend, I am very happy that the Mass is being broadcast on CatholicTV, which gives us all a chance to participate in some way.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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