Commencements and anniversaries
Hello and welcome,
Last Thursday, I celebrated the Boston College High School Baccalaureate Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. It was a full cathedral, with over 300 graduates and, I would estimate, there were somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people at the Mass.
BC High has celebrated their Baccalaureate Mass at the Cathedral for the last few years and we were very happy to have them there again.
The choir from the school performed for us. It was very beautiful.
Jonathan Shea, who is Father Joe Raeke’s nephew, spoke at the end of Mass. He gave a beautiful testimony of faith.
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Last week I was also visited by three Capuchin friars who stopped by the Cathedral.
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Saturday I went to St. Mary’s in Plymouth for the celebration of their 100th anniversary.
They made this beautiful quilt to commemorate their hundred years.
It was a beautiful celebration and we were joined by two former pastors.
The parish has a small but growing Brazilian community, so they have this shrine to Our Lady of Aparecida, the Patroness of Brazil.
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The following day I joined another parish for their anniversary celebration. This time, it was St. John’s in Wellesley. They were a chapel before they became a parish, so this year they are celebrating 140 years as a faith community and 125 years as a parish.
It is a wonderful parish that has been served faithfully by Father Tom Powers and Sister Evelyn Ronan for over 20 years. Father John Connelly is also in residence there, as is Father Bryan Hehir.
It was a very beautiful celebration, and afterwards they had a sort of outdoor fair to continue the festivities.
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Sunday afternoon, I was visited by Father Michael Nolan and members of the Ugandan Catholic Community. They had recently elected a new leadership team for their community and Father Michael brought them by to introduce them to me.
There is a very large Ugandan community in the Boston area, and the vast majority of them are Christian — either Catholic or Anglican. St. Mary’s in Waltham is home to a very active community where, for example, they celebrate the Feast of the Ugandan Martyrs every year. In fact, at the conclusion of our gathering, the members of the leadership team sang one of the hymns of the Ugandan Martyrs for me in their native language.
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Monday, I attended the commencement ceremony at Boston College, where I gave the benediction.
The commencement speaker this year was Archbishop Blaise Cupich of Chicago.
Archbishop Cupich was given an honorary doctorate along with a number of other people. Among the other recipients was a young man who runs a Nativity School in a very rural area of Texas and a religious sister from Jamaica who is a former superior of the Sisters of Mercy. Another recipient has been very much involved in serving veterans.
They all have very interesting stories and I thought that at the commencement they have often honored graduates of Boston College who have gone on to perform great acts of service to the wider society, and this was just another example of that.
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That day, I was also visited by the St. Agrippina Society from the North End. Each year they sponsor a festival in honor of the saint, as well as a number of charitable activities in the community. The members of the society all have connections to the same village in Sicily, where the saint is revered.
Last year, the society celebrated the 100th anniversary and they brought over a relic of St. Agrippina, and the pastor from their church in Sicily visited the feast here.
They presented me with a plaque.
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In the evening, I attended the ceremony for the awarding of the Cardinal Medeiros Scholarships at Boston University. The scholarship provides a four-year, full tuition scholarship for graduates of Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese.
Since the establishment of the scholarship, hundreds of graduates of our Catholic high schools have been given full scholarships to Boston University.
The twelve students honored received scholarships valued at nearly $2.3 million. By the time these students graduate, the University will have enrolled a total of 408 scholars, representing a contribution of over $46 million from Boston University to the greater Boston area and the students of the Archdiocese.
Here is a list of the 2015 Cardinal Medeiros Scholars:
Anthony Byrne – Xaverian Brothers High School
Mckenzie Cheung – Academy of Notre Dame High School
Steven Doucette Jr. – Malden Catholic High School
Olivia Ferris – Central Catholic High School
Emily Fratalia – Cardinal Spellman High School
Mark Haddad – Saint John’s Preparatory School
Jenna Lanciani – Fontbonne Academy
Catherine McAuley – Notre Dame Academy
Kathleen McLaughlin – Arlington Catholic High School
Christopher Phillips – Boston College High School
Robert Reidy – Boston College High School
Maria Splaine – Presentation of Mary Academy
They always invite me to help award the scholarships along with a member of the Boston University administration. Frequently, it is President Brown, but this year he was unable to attend and we were joined by Provost Jean Morrison.
We were also joined at the ceremony by Father David Barnes, our Catholic chaplain at Boston University.
This is a wonderful program, and a great gift to the students and their families, especially considering the high cost of a college education today.
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On Tuesday, I was happy to join the commencement exercises at St. John’s Seminary for the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization.
We awarded 15 degrees in either the Master of Theological Studies for the New Evangelization program or the Master of Arts in Ministry program.
This year, Sister Marian Batho was the commencement speaker and the student speaker was Julie Basque. Julie gave a beautiful talk, as did Sister Marian.
We are also very pleased that, this year, two of our deacons also graduated from the program with master degrees. I’m very happy to see that the deacons are using this program as a form of ongoing formation.
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Wednesday, I was visited by the Mother General of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master. Mother is Italian and stationed in Rome, and she was accompanied by one of her counselors who is a Polish sister whose family migrated to Australia.
The visit gave me an opportunity to thank the sisters for their presence in our archdiocese, here at the Pastoral Center, at Regina Cleri and of course their center on West Street.
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Just as last week I met with the major superiors of women religious in the archdiocese, on Wednesday I met with the superiors of the men’s religious communities.
Father Mark O’Connell gave us a wonderful presentation on the lineamenta and the suggestions that came forward for the Synod on the Family, and then we had an opportunity for each of the superiors to speak about the different activities of their communities.
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Then, that night, we had the annual senior priest dinner at the Boston College club.
It’s always a wonderful event that is very much enjoyed by our senior priests who live at Regina Cleri and other places.
We are very grateful to Jack Lynch from the BC Club, Jim O’Connor from the Order of Malta and all the other benefactors who make the evening possible.
The musical entertainment for the evening is always provided by the band the treasury notes, which is headed by former state treasurer Bob crane. Bob, unfortunately, was unable to be with us this year and he was sorely missed. However we did make an attempt to compensate by having Father Richard Fitzgerald and seminarian Tom Olson sing for us. It was all very good fun.
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Finally, I want to remind everyone that I will be ordaining five men to the priesthood Saturday morning at the Cathedral the holy cross. The men to be ordained are Deacons Anthony Cusack, Andrea Filipucci, Christopher Lowe, Peter Stamm and Sinisa Ubiparapovic.
I invite all of you to participate in this choice event, either through joining us in person or by watching the ordination mass on CatholicTV. Most importantly I invite you to pray for these men as they begin their ministry to God’s people.
Until next week,
Emmanuel College’s commencement
Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday, I celebrated the annual Catholic Schools Foundation Scholars Mass at the Cathedral. This year, the scholars and their families almost fill the Cathedral.
Afterwards we had a reception. It’s always very nice to have a chance to meet the students and their families and it is a way of recognizing their commitment and hard work.
We are very grateful to all of those who support the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which provides the scholarship money for these young men and women and that allows us to make Catholic education available to many who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
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That evening, I was very happy to attend the first annual fundraising dinner for Matignon High School.
During the evening, they honored Marshall Sloane and his family.
The evening was very successful. They raised $250,000 during the evening.
Matignon is doing very well and during the evening we heard from a couple of students who spoke about their experience there.
Marshall Sloane, along with the rest of his family, has been so supportive of Catholic education and Catholic Charities.
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Friday, I was visited by Kari and Steve Colella, who for many years worked in the archdiocese.
They came to say hello and also to discuss their hopes for expanding the marriage preparation program, Transformed in Love, which Kari founded while she was here in the archdiocese.
I am hoping that more people become acquainted with Transformed in Love, which I consider to be one of the finest marriage preparation programs available, because of its large catechetical component. It really is helping people understand the faith and understand the Church’s teachings on marriage.
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Later that day, I had Mass for the patients and inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital. There has been some controversy surrounding the facility recently and so the Superintendent was very happy to have me come and say Mass for them.
The Mass was held in the auditorium and a large group of men were able to come.
The chaplain there, Peg Newman does excellent work. There are a lot of very sad cases there because they don’t get visitors.
In addition to the inmates, many of the staff also attended the Mass.
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On Saturday, I attended the commencement ceremony at Emmanuel College, where I gave the commencement address and also received an honorary degree.
We had a beautiful day for the ceremony.
Not only did they give me an honorary degree but they are also naming their ministry department after me.
They presented me with a picture of the plaque that will be on the building. I told them I was very honored, because the only thing named after me so far is the Cardinal Sean O’Malley Memorial Speedbump at the Pastoral Center!
In my address, using some of the themes of Pope Francis, I spoke about the importance of Catholic education preparing them to be protectors of the gifts and caretakers of creation and of one another. I also spoke of the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame at the school, particularly their foundress St. Julia Billiart and Sister Dorothy Stang, who was murdered in Brazil.
Emmanuel College has been very successful at facing the challenges that most small Catholic colleges have had to deal with over the last decade. As a result, they are flourishing. We are so grateful to Sister Janet Eisner for all that she does to make the college the success that it is.
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On Sunday, Mother’s Day, we went to St. Patrick’s Manor in Framingham to celebrate Mass with the mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers — and even great great-grandmothers — who are residents there.
Of course, we also were there to honor the sisters, the Carmelites of the Aged and Infirm, who are our spiritual mothers. The Carmelites do such extraordinary work in their ministry of caring for the elderly.
After the Mass, we met with some of the residents and had lunch with the sisters, including their new superior, Sister Michelle.
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Each year our Central Ministries staff at the Pastoral Center volunteer to go out to an inner-city parish to help beautify the facilities as part of our Parish Service Week. This year, they volunteered at the three parishes of the Roxbury-Jamaica Plain Collaborative.
So, on Monday, I went to spend some time with the people working at St. Mary of the Angels in Roxbury. It really was quite a facelift for the parish and, thankfully, it was very beautiful day.
The pastor, Father Carlos Flor, and a number of his parishioners were there with us as well.
Each year, they let me use a new toy, and this year I was able to use a cordless weed whacker. In my day, we had a manual one, so this was quite a treat!
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Monday night the FOCUS campus missionaries who are working at Harvard, MIT and Boston University came together for a dinner at St. Mary’s Parish in Waltham. Father Michael Nolan was our very gracious host.
During the evening I was able to hear their reflections and stories of what the missionaries have been experiencing during their time here in Boston. We are so grateful for their presence and we know that they reach a great many young people. Of course, Boston has one of the largest populations of 25 to 35-year-olds in the United States. Add to that the hundreds of thousands of university students (who would generally be younger than 25) and it really demonstrates that we have a large young adult population to serve. And, in fact, you only have to go through certain sections of Boston to know this is true. There are places where you are hard-pressed to find anybody under 30 walking on the street.
Our young population is a great blessing, but it is also a challenge because that is the demographic that is the most secularized and the least churched. So, we are very grateful to the FOCUS missionaries who have a great capacity to connect with our young people and share with them the joy of the Gospel.
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On Tuesday, we had a Mass and dedication of our statue of the Blessed Mother outside the Pastoral Center to the late Jack and Mary Shaughnessy.
Many members of the family were able to join us.
Jack and Mary Shaughnessy were great friends of all things Catholic and they were immensely supportive of all the ministries of the archdiocese.
We were happy to memorialize their presence by recognizing their great devotion to our Blessed Mother, on the day before the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima during this month of Mary. It was a very fitting way of expressing our gratitude for their faith and generosity.
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Then in the afternoon, we had a tour of some the renovations of Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy Lower Campus. The building is 100 years old, but they are hoping that the renovations will be completed by September. When it is complete, they will have the capacity for about 400 students there.
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Wednesday, I attended the funeral of Father Jack Roche. Father Jack was one of the “Roche Bros.” and his family have been great benefactors of the Church.
The Roche family is very much associated with Sacred Heart Parish in Roslindale, and the pastor, Msgr. Frank Kelley, celebrated the Mass and preached.
Father Jack was a Colomban missionary and I knew the Columbans well from their work with me in the Virgin Islands, though Father Jack himself was a missionary in Korea. At the funeral Mass we were joined by many of the Columban fathers and a number of our diocesan priests.
At the end of the Mass we also heard reflections by the Columban provincial Father Bergen and by Father Jack’s nephew Daniel Roche.
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Then, in the afternoon, we met with the Major Superiors of women religious at the Pastoral Center.
We meet once a year to learn about their work and to have a conversation about the Church and issues related to their mission.
This year, in relation to the upcoming Synod on the Family, we focused on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world.
Father Mark O’Connell, our Judicial Vicar joined us on this conversation.
Of course, we also talked about the ongoing celebration of the Year for Consecrated Life and announced that we will celebrate a Mass closing the year at the Cathedral on Nov. 29.
The meeting was very well attended and I was happy to see the vitality of the religious congregations of women that are serving our people here in Boston.
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Finally, Thursday night I was very happy to attend the Catholic Charities spring celebration at the John F. Kennedy Library.
Catholic Charities president Debbie Rambo
EJ Dionne of The Washington Post was the evening’s speaking and Father Bryan Hehir was the honoree.
There was also a beautiful film that the John Hancock company helped produce about the works of Catholic Charities.
The evening raised $1.1 million for the works of Catholic Charities.
Until next week,
Gathering with the priests of the archdiocese
Hello and welcome!
On Friday evening we gathered for vespers and dinner with the college seminarians and our seminarians who are studying English as a second language. I always enjoy these opportunities to get to know our seminarians better.
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On Tuesday, we had a Mass at the Cathedral to thank supporters of our Campaign for Catholic Schools.
We were so delighted that a number of students from Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy sang for us and also performed in the bell choir. Some of them told me they had just made their First Communion.
With us at the Mass and the reception that followed was Norah O’Donnell, from CBS This Morning and 60 Minutes.
She spoke about her gratitude for her own Catholic education, her career in journalism, as well as her interview with me that aired on 60 Minutes last fall.
During the evening we also heard from Jack Connors and Chris Boland, who are very much involved in supporting the Campaign.
In my remarks, I spoke about the importance of a Catholic education, and the wonderful work being done to educate youngsters especially in the urban areas of Boston.
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Wednesday was our annual convocation for priests.
This year, it was a great joy to have Father Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Chicago, who is rector of Mundelein Seminary and also the director of Word on Fire ministries, as our keynote speaker.
Father Barron said he was originally going to speak on the theme of “Priest, Prophet and King” but he gave each of us a video on those topics. Instead, he addressed three other aspects of the spiritual life of the priest. First, he talked about the importance of finding your “center” in a personal relationship with Christ. Secondly, he spoke about acknowledging that we are sinners. Thirdly, he said that we must realize that our life is not all about us, but that all of us are part of God’s plan and that we have a mission.
It is always a delight to hear Father Barron. He is not only a very eloquent speaker, but he is able to draw from his great knowledge of popular culture and connect that to his themes of theology.
Father Mark O’Connell introduced Father Barron, but also offered his own reflection about the challenges and trials experienced by the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston over the last decade.
Father Mark’s address was very well received by the priests.
Towards the end of our gathering, Bishop Uglietto also addressed us, recalling our brothers in the ranks of the clergy who have died in the last few months, including several sitting pastors. He talked also about the process of Pastoral Planning.
Finally, I concluded the gathering by speaking about the importance of priestly fraternity and the pastoral challenges that we face.
I called on the priests to do a personal inventory, looking at how much time is spent on parish maintenance and taking care of the existing flock, compared to how much time is spent on outreach. That is going to be the secret of our success going forward, if we are to become a truly evangelizing Church.
I also talked about the challenges and opportunities that we have in serving two particular groups that are large — and growing — in our archdiocese: our immigrant population and our young people. We have one of largest percentages of young adults in the United States, those between 25 and 35 years of age — and that does not even count the hundreds of thousands of university students who are present in the Archdiocese of Boston. So, when they say there aren’t a lot of young people in our pews, it’s not because there aren’t a lot of young people in Boston. It certainly is a challenge — it’s the most secularized and un-churched portion of the population – but we need to be constantly praying, strategizing and working to reach out to young people and be empowering young people to be peer ministers. In particular, I mentioned how important FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) has been on the college level.
I know that Msgr. Bill Fay will continue the great work that Father Richard Clancy has begun in campus ministry. Going forward, we are going to look at ways to better serve schools where commuters make up a large portion of the student population. Of course, it is more of a challenge to provide campus ministry in those places because the students are not in residence, but it is a population that we need to turn our attention toward.
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Finally this week, I want to ask all of you to continue to work and pray for those who are suffering in Nepal. Having experienced small earthquakes, I can only imagine the terror that the people in Nepal have experienced in recent days.
Here in the archdiocese, we have already begun to take up collections to support the work of Catholic Relief Services, the relief arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We are very grateful for all those who show generosity at a time like this. We also encourage people to pray for the victims and their families — people who, in many cases, have not only lost loved ones but also their homes and their jobs and are facing terrible hardships.
Until next week,
The American Cardinal’s Dinner
Hello and welcome,
This week, the American Cardinals dinner, the annual fundraiser for the Catholic University of America was held in St. Louis. The dinner this year was a great success, raising over $1 million for scholarships to CUA.
As always, the evening begins with a Mass, and this year it was celebrated by Archbishop Robert Carlson in the very beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. I would certainly say it is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in United States.
In his homily, Archbishop Carlson recalled Cardinal Francis George who, of course, had planned on being there but, sadly, passed away recently.
There was a large contingent of priests and people present, including several of the trustees of the University, as well as a number of students.
Following the Mass is the dinner program. The ballroom was impressively decorated with a number of the emblematic symbols of St. Louis.
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From there I went to Washington D.C. to join in the celebration of the 175th anniversary of St. Matthew’s Cathedral. I had worked there for 20 years, so they invited me to give a talk on the Cathedral.
I shared many of my personal experiences of working there, and reflected on the idea of the cathedral as the New Jerusalem, a field hospital and the home of the Good Shepherd.
There were about 800 people there for the celebration. It was an opportunity to see a great number of former parishioners, and many people I had baptized or married.
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Tuesday we had a Mass to thank Father Kevin Sepe for his fine service as Episcopal Vicar and Secretary for Parish Life and Leadership. Father Kevin is leaving his post at the Pastoral Center to become a pastor in Wellesley.
After the Mass, we had a light reception upstairs, with a very impressive cake!
We are also grateful to Father Bryan Parrish, who will be stepping to Father Sepe’s shoes.
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Tuesday evening, we had one of our regular St. Andrew’s Dinners for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood at St. Margaret’s Parish in Burlington.
It’s always an opportunity for us to spotlight our seminarians, and several of them spoke and gave witness talks. Afterward, the young men had an opportunity for questions and answers.
I have always found that these dinners are a very good way of introducing the theme of vocations and vocational discernment to young men throughout the diocese.
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Wednesday morning, we had our regular meeting of the bishops of the Boston Province here at the Pastoral Center. We meet twice a year as a province.
We were happy that so many of the bishops were able to be with us, including a number of retired bishops, such as Bishop McNaughton, who is a retired Maryknoll bishop who lives in the area. This was also the first time that Bishop Chris Coyne, the new Bishop of Burlington Vermont, was with us.
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That afternoon, we had our gathering of the recently ordained priests. We gathered for a Holy Hour in our Bethany Chapel and, afterwards, we had a discussion on pastoral themes, including the upcoming Year of Mercy.
We concluded our gathering with a dinner together.
From that dinner, I went to another dinner with some of our pre-theology seminarians at the Cathedral.
When I meet with the priests, we have something of an outline of themes to discuss, but with the seminarians, it’s much more of a free-flowing discussion.
I found them to be very enthused and looking forward winding down the academic year and beginning their summer assignments.
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Thursday, I met with a group of students from Boston College whom I had briefly met back in September and had asked me if I would meet with them.
We had a very nice dialogue. They all seem very interested in their faith in the life of the Church and we spoke about the themes of vocation and evangelization. Afterward, they had a small tour of the Pastoral Center.
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Then, in the afternoon, we had a meeting of the Board of Directors of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston. Among the issues we discussed was the planning of the ground breaking for their new library building.
Yesterday evening, I attended the dinner at Boston College celebrating the naming of the college’s School of Arts and Sciences after Robert Morrissey.
The dinner was held in the beautiful library building.
Bob is a very generous and committed Catholic who has been very involved with the archdiocese, particularly with our finance committee. He and his five children are graduates of Boston College and he was a member of the Board of Trustees of Boston College for more than 30 years.
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Earlier today, we celebrated the Funeral for Father Mike McClellan, who died unexpectedly at his parish in Canton on Good Shepherd Sunday. It was certainly quite a shock to all of us.
His brother, who is a Franciscan preached the Mass and many of his classmates joined us as well. It was a sad loss, but we commend his soul to God’s mercy and pray for his parishioners, many of whom are still in shock. A sudden death like this leaves people completely unprepared. He was a relatively young man, so that made it all the more traumatic.
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Finally, this past week I received a wonderful surprise. Students from a number of our Catholic schools sent me cards, letters and other art for Good Shepherd Sunday.
I’d like to thank the following schools for their gifts:
Austin Preparatory High School
Bishop Fenwick High School
Immaculate Conception School, Newburyport
Lowell Catholic High School
Mount Alvernia Academy
Notre Dame Academy, Hingham
Sacred Heart School, Kingston
St. Agatha School, Milton
St. Anthony School, Everett
St. Catherine of Genoa School, Somerville
St. Jerome School, Weymouth
St. John Paul II Catholic Academy, Neponset
St. John the Baptist School, Peabody
St. John the Evangelist School, Beverly
St. Joseph Prep, Brighton
St. Joseph School, Haverhill
St. Mary of the Hills School, Milton
St. Michael School, North Andover
Trinity Catholic Academy
Until next week,
Remembering the Armenian Genocide
Hello and welcome!
Each year at the Cathedral we have a beautiful celebration of the confirmations of university students organized by the campus ministries of the various colleges and universities in the archdiocese. And this year, it was held last Sunday.
Many of the chaplains and other campus ministers — priests, religious and lay ministers —accompanied the confirmands and their families. It’s always a wonderful event and we are very grateful to Father Richard Clancy and all those involved in this very important ministry of the Church.
Campus ministry is critically important in Boston, where we have over half a million university students. It is an extremely important service, not only for those students who are from the archdiocese, but also for those from all over the world who come to Boston to pursue higher education.
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That afternoon, I went to Somerville to participate in the annual “Sharing the Vision of St. Jeanne Jugan” Fundraising Dinner to support the Little Sisters of the Poor.
We began with a Mass attended by friends and benefactors of the community, followed by the dinner.
With members of the community
With students from Somerville high school who so generously volunteered to help serve the meal
The Little Sisters of the Poor are an extraordinary presence in our archdiocese. Theirs is such an important ministry of taking care of our elderly and infirm and they are a great witness to all of us. We are particularly grateful that they have been so good to the parents of several of our priests.
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The next morning at the Cathedral, following the 11:30 Mass, we gave a blessing to those who were planning to run the Boston Marathon the next day. About 200 runners came up for the blessing.
It was a great event, and we are very grateful to Father Kevin O’Leary, the rector of our Cathedral, who organizes it each year.
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Sunday afternoon, here at the Pastoral Center, I was very happy to celebrate a Mass for the 50th anniversary of one of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, Sister Michelle, who is presently working at Regina Cleri.
During the Mass, she renewed her vows.
Many members of her family were able to join with us. There was also a very large contingent of priests who were there for the celebration. It was a wonderful tribute, not only to Sister Michelle on her 50 years of consecrated life, but also to the entire community. It shows the great affection that all our priests have for the Sister Disciples.
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From there, I went to South Boston for a celebration of three birthdays.
Certainly the one who deserves to be mentioned first is Sister Evelyn Hurley who was turning 100 years old!
With Sister Evelyn, who looks splendid in her blue knit dress — which she made herself!
And also we celebrated the birthday of Mary Desantis, who is the cook there, and Bishop Hennessey.
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On Monday, I visited Gordon College, an Evangelical Christian college in Wenham, Massachusetts, for a lecture that was part of the celebration of their 125th anniversary. There were 1,000 people present at the lecture. College president Michael Lindsay introduced me and thanked me for my presence there.
After the lecture there was a dinner for some of the leadership of the community, and also during my visit I had an opportunity to meet with the Catholic students who study at Gordon.
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Though I wasn’t able to attend, that evening was the presentation of the Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus’ annual Lantern Award, which is always held on Patriots Day.
We are grateful for the extraordinary work of the Knights of Columbus and we were so pleased that this year they saw fit to give the Lantern Award to Father Joseph Baggetta.
Father Baggetta does extraordinary work with the young offenders in our prison system, as well as his service at St. James Parish, which he always does with such generosity, and a spirit of priestly, pastoral love.
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The following day, I left for Seton Hall University. Seton Hall is one of the premier Catholic colleges in the country, and is located in the Archdiocese of Newark. They also have a wonderful seminary there, Immaculate Conception Seminary. In fact, I was a visitator to that seminary many years ago. In Newark they also have a very large Redemptoris Mater Seminary, which has very generously supplied priests for many different dioceses, including our own.
We began with Vespers at Immaculate Conception Seminary, where they presented me with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
With Archbishop Myers as he confers the degree.
The event was to Mark the 10th anniversary of the Joseph Unanue Latino Institute that was funded by the Unanue family, and Doña Carmen Ana was present for the ceremony with us.
I was very happy to see Archbishop Hebda, who was also able to join us for the Vespers ceremony.
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On Thursday, I traveled to Chicago to be present for the funeral Mass of Cardinal Francis George.
The funeral Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Blase Cupich and Archbishop Peter Sartain preached the homily.
There were many cardinals, bishops, priests and, of course, hundreds of lay people present. Cardinal George was an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, so we were also joined by their Father General, Father Louis Lougen, and the Final Commendation was given by Archbishop Robert Schwietz from Anchorage, who is also an OMI.
I was happy to be able to be present at the funeral Mass to offer my prayers for the eternal rest of Cardinal George’s soul and also to express our admiration for his fine service to our Bishops Conference and the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago. And, beyond that, he also rendered a great service on the world stage, where he made such a great contribution, particularly to Catholic intellectual life, because of his great learning and ability to teach the truths of the gospel in a very compelling way.
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Because of the funeral, I was unable to be present for the Ecumenical Service held at Trinity Church in Boston yesterday evening to mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
However, I was pleased that the archdiocese was represented by Bishop Arthur Kennedy, who took part in the program, as well as by Dr. Vito Nicastro from our Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
Of course, the Holy Father had celebrated a Mass April 12 at the Vatican to commemorate anniversary, and his characterizing the event as “genocide” certainly captured the attention of the world.
Though I was unable to attend, I sent a letter which was read on my behalf by Bishop Kennedy, and I would like to share that with you here:
Your Eminence, Your Excellencies, Your Grace, Reverend Clergy, Religious, Treasured Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Distinguished Guests, Honored Friends:
Please know of my prayerful solidarity with you this evening. It was my intention to join you for this most important commemoration prior to being called to the funeral Mass for His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago.
For the Roman Catholic Church, the meaning of the Armenian Genocide begins with great sadness and the recognition of the overwhelming loss of each human life taken from us in the Metz Yeghem, the Great Crime. Such evil extends beyond human vision. Where sight fails we must continue with different eyes, the eyes of faith. And in faith, we see how those we have lost are ours forever because their martyrdom ensures they await us above, in the one place we can never lose our loved ones. The Holy Father Pope Francis has said, it "was a true martyrdom of your people," and in Heaven the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant martyrs are already enjoying the full communion we Christians on earth still seek. There is no division among them. Therefore, they are the saints not just of some of us, but of all of us. Their Lord is one, their witness is one, their blood is one.
My dear brothers and sisters, we must honor the martyrs and never deny the horrors they endured. We must never forget the mothers who encountered a contemporary experience of Herod, killing the innocent, from whose mouths "a voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and lamentation," the fathers, the elders, the orphans and the children who gave their lives because they would never forsake their families or their faith.
We owe them unity, to stand as one for their Lord. Since the martyrs are like our elder brothers and sisters in the Christian family, the first duty we owe to them is to draw the family together. · We owe them our witness, to stand as one for the message they sealed with the ultimate testimony. We owe them our voices to carry on their song.
We honor and are indebted to all the martyrs of our churches. But to the martyrs of 1915 we also owe the full recognition of the systematic murder and assassination of identity that is genocide. As Pope Francis has said, "Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it."
There can be no more denial. The attempt to take not just persons, but an entire people, not just individuals but one of the civilizations of humankind, is the Armenian Genocide. We owe these martyrs the commitment to stand against all genocide and crimes against humanity, especially those being perpetrated against Christians throughout the world these very days. We owe them our help in rebuilding the churches and the faith, the culture and the civilization of Armenia, the first Christian nation since 30I AD, a gift forever to all peoples but especially a gift to the Body of Christ. For your spiritual wealth, for the lived faith of 1700 years, for the wisdom of St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church, we owe our full spiritual esteem.
Ultimately the genocide was a failed attempt. This evening we gather to give witness to and to celebrate the living, vibrant, growing heritage of Armenian spirituality, holy tradition, and faith which is a treasure for the Church of Jesus Christ everywhere and forever. May the Lord bless us, strengthen the bonds that unite us and lead us forward to build up the Kingdom of God in our world today.
Until next week,