Addressing the John Carroll Society
Hello and welcome,
We are very pleased that Msgr. Robert Oliver was appointed this week as Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. This is a very important step forward in the organization of the office and the work of the commission.
Monsignor has been working as Promoter of Justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and is very well-versed in the issues surrounding child protection. He has been supporting the commission very actively on a volunteer basis, so we are very glad that he has officially been given this responsibility by the Holy Father. The next meeting of the commission will be in October and we know that he will make a great contribution to our work.
At this moment there are a number of projects that are in the offing, but one of the most urgent tasks is trying to identify membership from parts of the world beyond Europe. We are especially seeking participation from Asia, Latin America, and Africa. That process is ongoing and we hope to have the full complement of members in the near future.
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I am on the board of the Catholic Leadership Institute and so, Friday, CLI President Matt Manion, and vice president Dan Cellucci visited me to give me an update on some of the organization’s recent activities.
CLI has been a very valuable help to our archdiocese, with the Good Leaders, Good Shepherds program, training our parish staffs and leadership as well as promoting best practices in evangelization and parish leadership.
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That evening at the Cathedral, I hosted one of my regular dinners for seminarians. This time, I met with the seminarians in their fourth year of theology — these are the men who will be ordained transitional deacons in a few months.
As always, we began with Vespers and afterwards we had a very nice discussion. It gave the seminarians a chance to share a bit about their summer experiences.
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On Saturday I left for Washington D.C. to attend the regular September meetings of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and the Administrative Board.
At the meeting of the Pro-Life Committee we heard a report on the ongoing collaboration between the Archdiocese of Washington and the national office of the post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel. About 50 dioceses have been trained, and our own Marianne Luthin is very much involved in that.
During the meeting we learned that the national website of Project Rachel, HopeAfterAbortion.com, is receiving about 40,000 visits a month, which shows that the outreach is working but also how much need there is for healing after abortion.
During the meeting of the Administrative Board, we were visited by Cardinal Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. He was in Washington with a group of Eastern Patriarchs for the In Defense of Christians (IDC) Summit for Middle East Christians, which brought together the patriarchs and U.S. lawmakers to speak to our government about the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
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While I was in Washington I stayed at the Capuchin house.
They have made some very nice renovations to the chapel at Capuchin College
Just down the street is the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine. So, I made a stop there to pray for Catholics in the Ukraine.
Also just down from the Ukrainian shrine is the Pope St. John Paul II National Shrine, which is now run by the Knights of Columbus. So I stopped in there as well.
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The John Carroll Society of the Archdiocese of Washington hosts an annual Fall Lecture, which was held at the Newseum on Tuesday.
This year I was asked to give the keynote talk on “Pope Francis and The New Evangelization”. There were over 500 people in attendance, which I think indicates the great interest people have in the topic of the Holy Father and his message.
You can listen to a recording of my talk here:
The director of the Society is Msgr. Peter Vaghi, whom I have known since he was a young lawyer who had not yet entered the seminary. He has been working with the John Carroll Society for almost 30 years.
The Society has as its roots in the Red Mass planning committee, but over the years it has grown into a wonderful instrument of ongoing formation for professionals in Washington, as well as a means of channeling pro-bono services to the poor and the needy. They have done an extraordinary job, so I was very happy to lend my support to their event.
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We are very happy this week to note that our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, has just recently marked its 185th anniversary.
We are very proud of our newspaper, which was founded by Bishop Fenwick in 1829 and is among the oldest newspapers in New England and is certainly the oldest Catholic newspaper in the United States. Of course, one of its most notable early editors was the famous Irish author and poet John Boyle O’Reilly who was a “POME” (Prisoner of Mother England) who escaped the penal colony in Australia and made his way to Boston and went on to led The Pilot to glory!
Until next week,
Opening the academic year at our seminaries
Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday I was visited by Jeff Robbins and Robert Trestan, who are president of the board and the executive director of the New England Anti-Defamation League. Also with us was Father David Michael of our Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.
We meet periodically, and at this meeting we spoke about a number of current events including a recent rise in anti-Semitic acts, particularly in Europe but also in our local area. People seem to be targeting the Jewish community to express their disapproval of what they see happening in the Middle East.
Going forward, we are working to bring together a group of local religious leaders to assess the wellbeing and mutual concerns of the different faith communities they represent.
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As I mentioned last week, around the beginning of September I always try to celebrate the opening Mass at each of our seminaries.
So, on Friday, I celebrated the opening Mass for Pope St. John XXIII Seminary.
Friday was the Feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist. I joked with them that, when I was ordained, it was “The Beheading of John the Baptist” but political correctness seems to have crept into the liturgy. I said the next thing it is likely to be called is “King Herod’s Birthday Party!”
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That evening, I traveled to St. John the Baptist Parish in Peabody for a Mass and blessing of their new renovations.
They very much wanted to have the celebration on the actual Feast Day of St. John the Baptist, though I was a little skeptical about the number of people who would be willing to come out on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. But my doubts proved to be unfounded. It was a beautiful celebration and they had a wonderful turnout.
We blessed the new handicapped access ramp and elevator to the Church as well as the lower chapel that has been refurbished.
We were honored to be joined by Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who is a graduate of the parish school, and long-time State Senator Fred Berry, who is a prominent figure in the disabilities community.
It was great to see the fine job that Father John MacInnis is doing there, assisted by one of our newly ordained priests, Father Steven Clemence. They minister to the large Hispanic community at St. John’s and at St. Thomas in Salem they have a very large Brazilian community.
Following the Mass they had a very nice reception at the Holy Ghost society Hall.
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Saturday, I celebrated my final opening Mass of the academic year at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline.
During the Mass we instituted five new lectors, which is one of the ministries or what were formerly called the minor orders.
At each of the seminaries, I spoke about the three qualities that Pope Francis says attracted him to religious life: the missionary spirit, the sense of fraternity and the discipline, of the Jesuit Fathers that he knew as a young man in Buenos Aires. I pointed to those characteristics as being important in the life of any priest.
Afterwards I joined the seminarians for lunch.
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Monday, of course, was Labor Day. As I like to do every year, I joined in the Labor Day barbecue for priests hosted by Father Bob Casey at St. Brigid’s in South Boston. I think we had about 130 priests join us, which was just a wonderful turnout.
We are very grateful to Father Bob, who sponsors this gathering every year. We were blessed with beautiful weather and a good time was had by all!
I was very happy that earlier in the weekend, our Episcopal Vicar for the Central Region, Father Jim Flavin, celebrated a Labor Day Mass for workers at the Seaport Chapel in South Boston.
As I mentioned in my post last week, the Church has always had a deep concern for the plight of workers and particularly in today’s world. Though I was not able to attend, I was happy to lend my support to this Mass held in solidarity with workers in difficult labor situations.
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Tuesday, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh came for a visit to the Cathedral.
We had a very nice talk, and it was an opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern to the Church and the City of Boston.
Until next week,
Celebrating Bishop Coleman’s ministry
Hello and welcome!
Last Friday, I visited the house of the Missionaries of Charity in Dorchester. The date was August 22 which, at Mother Teresa’s request, for the Sisters is still the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the normal calendar the feast has been moved to the second Saturday after Pentecost, so some have described it as a heart transplant! The Sisters renew their vows on this feast day and the Sisters of New Bedford also joined the Boston Sisters for the occasion.
It is a beautiful feast day and there has been a long tradition in the Church of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It particularly became widely extended through the popular apparitions of St. Catherine Labouré at the Chapel Rue du Bac and the Miraculous Medal, because the back of the Miraculous Medal has a depiction of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the apparitions in Fatima, the Blessed Mother also encouraged devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
As I reflected in my homily, three of the five Joyful Mysteries of the rosary have references to Mary’s heart: at the Nativity, Mary is pondering these events in her heart; at the Presentation, Simeon predicts that Mary’s heart will be pierced by a sword; and in the fifth mystery, the Finding in the Temple, (which was the Gospel reading for the feast), Mary is once again pondering these events in her heart. The sisters concluded the liturgy of the word by renewing their consecrations.
We are so blessed to have the presence of Mother Teresa’s community here. They do wonderful work and are a presence of God’s love and mercy in our midst.
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Saturday, I went to Pittsburgh to be present at the solemn profession of three Capuchin friars: Roshan Anthonypillai, John Paul Kuzma and Rafael Anguiano-Rodriguez.
I was very happy that my schedule allowed me to be able to attend both the simple profession and the solemn profession this year. The simple profession, which I mentioned in July, is for men who just finished their novitiate and take vows for three years. These men are taking perpetual vows.
The solemn profession takes place in St. Augustine’s Church in Pittsburgh, which is the church where I was professed and also where I was ordained, so it is filled with great memories.
The church itself is very beautiful. It is a replica of a parish church in Munich, and was built over 100 years ago for the German immigrants in Pittsburgh.
One of the saints that is very visible in the pictures of the main altar is St. Lawrence, because the name of that section of Pittsburgh is Lawrenceville, named after Lawrence Foster, who was father of the famous songwriter Stephen Foster.
It was a very joyous event and I was very happy that so many of our Capuchins were able to attend and celebrate the occasion with us.
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Sunday, I was back in Boston and celebrated the 9:30 Mass at the Cathedral. At that Mass there was a couple who had been parishioners of mine for many years when I was in Washington, Edwin and Ofelia Sommarriba.
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Monday, Joan and Ned Desmond were visiting relatives on the Cape and came for dinner at the Cathedral. Joan has had a long association with the National Catholic Register, which was founded by her family many years ago and, of course, she continues to contribute to the Register today.
I have known them for over 30 years so it was a nice opportunity to see them and catch up.
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On Tuesday, I presided at the Mass at the Fall River Cathedral for Bishop George Coleman, celebrating his 50 years of priesthood and his 11 years as Bishop of Fall River.
Bishop Coleman will be retiring next month so, in many ways, it was an opportunity for the diocese to honor and thank him for his service to God’s people. It was a very beautiful tribute that included a wonderful musical program with choirs from the Cathedral and Holy Name parish.
There was also a very large number of priests. I would say that half the Cathedral was filled with clergy.
Among the bishops present were Bishop Walter Edyvean, who was a classmate of Bishop Coleman, as well as Archbishop Cronin, a former Bishop of Fall River.
In my remarks after Communion, I told Bishop Coleman that Bishop Cronin and myself will soon be welcoming him into a very exclusive club – that of the former Bishops of Fall River!
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This being the last week of August, everything seems to be starting up again, including the seminaries. So, this week I have opening Masses at all three of our seminaries. The first was at St. John’s Seminary on Wednesday, which happened to be the Feast of St. Monica. Afterwards there was a very nice lunch outside on the lawn.
It was an opportunity for me to encourage the seminarians, as they begin a new academic year after their summer experiences, which are also an important part of their formation and preparation for ministry.
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That afternoon, I went for a visit with Dr. Drew Faust, the president of Harvard University, in her offices. With me was Father Bryan Hehir, who is a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. We had a very interesting talk on current events and other topics.
During our visit she presented me with a copy of her book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.
She pointed out that the Civil War is the conflict that has claimed the most American lives. Every war since then, cumulatively, does not reach that total.
She said people have asked her if her book was an indictment of the Civil War. She said her response is that she thinks it is helpful for people to understand the consequences of war the changes that the Civil War brought to our society. She also spoke about some of the parallels she sees between World War I and the Civil War. It was a fascinating discussion.
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After our meeting at Harvard, I stopped in to San Lorenzo Friary in Jamaica Plain. The friars were having workshops on Franciscan spirituality this week and so they invited me to come to Vespers.
Afterward, Brother James and Brother Tino cooked a lovely meal for us.
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Finally, I want to conclude this week mentioning the upcoming Labor Day holiday.
Unfortunately, many of our holidays – even religious holidays – eventually become separated from their original meaning. While, for many, Labor Day may just represent a last chance to head to the beach or a long weekend to do back-to-school shopping, it is of course an important time to remember the dignity of work and the importance of people’s employment in their lives.
The Church has always been an ally of the labor movement and in today’s world, unemployment and underemployment are a constant concern. In particular, the number of youth and young adults who are unemployed or underemployed is of crisis proportions. An article in The Economist magazine not long ago stated that the number of unemployed people in the world under 30 years of age is equal to the population of the United States. This is one reason why the Holy Father is always talking about economic justice and the plight of the young, as well as the elderly, who are often disproportionately affected by economic crises.
In our own archdiocese, we have the tradition the Labor Guild going back to the time of Cardinal Richard Cushing. We have, through this organization, sought to advance the Church’s teachings on economic justice and the rights of workers by promoting strong labor-management relationships through education and mediation. We are truly thankful for them and for all those who contribute to society through their work.
Until next week,
The Iraq crisis
This week we were praying for the spiritual success of the Holy Father’s visit to Korea, which was his first trip to Asia.
It was a very joyous and successful trip, unfortunately the Holy Father’s joy was quickly tempered by the death of three of his family members. His nephew, a young argentine physician, coming home from vacation was involved in a serious automobile accident that has put him in critical condition in the hospital and caused the death of his wife and two young children. I know that people throughout the world are praying for the Holy Father and for his family at this time.
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Another very tragic event this week was the murder of a young journalist from New Hampshire, Jim Foley.
He is from a Catholic family that’s very involved in the life of the Church in their parish. There was a very active prayer group praying for his safety in his last months. There are many beautiful accounts of Jim Foley’s devotion to the Rosary, that being a source of strength for him in his captivity. The death of Jim Foley just underscores the violence that so many people are suffering in the Middle East.
Friday, at the Mass for young Catholic adults on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady at St. Leonard’s in the North End, we prayed in a very special way for the Church in Iraq, where so many are fleeing ISIS.
Youth entering St. Leonard’s before the Mass
The very ones that killed Jim Foley are also killing religious minorities there, enslaving the women, and have marked the houses of Christians — giving them just hours to decide whether they would convert to Islam or abandon their homes. So, Christians have been leaving in droves from the traditionally Christian parts of Iraq where there have been Catholics since the beginning of Christianity. Now they are being displaced because of this fanatical persecution of the Church by ISIS and people who share their worldview. The Archdiocese will be taking up a collection to help the Christian refugees there, and we urge everyone to continue praying for peaceful solutions in that part of the world. At the Mass at St. Leonard’s, Mother Olga spoke about the situation in Iraq.
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The next day, I met with a group of leaders from our local Iraqi Catholic community.
The priest, Father Bassim Shoni, Chaplain to the Iraqi Community of Boston, was there with them.
It’s very, very disturbing. All of them have families who have been displaced and who have lost their homes and all of their possessions. Their lives have been in danger.
Later that day, they had a special Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes parish in Newton to pray and offer support for Iraqi Christians. Father Michael Harrington, director of our Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity, presided at that Mass
At the end of the Mass they processed outside to offer their intentions before the Virgin Mary.
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On Sunday I went to Brockton to visit the Sisters of Jesus Crucified, a Lithuanian order of sisters that has been in the Archdiocese for many years and has run schools and a nursing home. They were having their chapter, and I always preside over the installation of their provincial superiors.
So, we had the installation of the three sisters — the major superior and the two councilors. It’s a very small community. There are very few sisters left in the world. That’s the only convent they have. Some of these communities that were founded for ethnic groups never opened beyond that ethnic group and so when the language within that group was gone the vocations kind of dried up.
Part of their ministry of hospitality has been taking people in and they have Dominican sisters from Vietnam with them who are learning English.
All of the themes in their chapel represent the passion and the crucifixion.
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Every year we have a meeting and retreat for the bishops of the New England Region at Saint Edmund’s on Enders Island. That’s the Hartford and the Boston provinces.
This time we had a number of new bishops in attendance. Of course, Bishop Deeley is the new Bishop of Portland, Maine. He was there, and also Bishop Rozanski who was just installed in Springfield, as well as the new Archbishop of Hartford Leonard Blair and the new and future Bishop of Fall River, Bishop da Cunha.
Msgr. James Moroney preached the retreat. There were almost 20 bishops there. It’s always a very wonderful week. We were blessed with great weather, and the retreat house staff takes such good care of the grounds.
They also have a number of ministries promoting the arts. I took some pictures of the stained glass windows in the sacristy — all on a resurrection theme.
They also do a lot of work with people suffering from addictions. They have a recovery residence, The Saint Maximilian Kolbe Sober Living Community. They told me that Saint Maximilian Kolbe has become known as the patron saint of addicts, which I did not know.
They have this beautiful brochure about their ministry with great photos and more information.
Until my next post.
The installation of Bishop Rozanski
Hello and welcome,
Each year around the Feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, we hold a lecture, Vespers service and cookout for our priests at St. John’s Seminary.
This year, Father John Sassani gave the lecture on prayer. It was a very helpful and practical conference that was much appreciated by the priests.
After the Vespers service in the Chapel at St. John’s, we had a lovely cookout outside on the lawn. It was very well attended. I think we had about 100 men with us.
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Tuesday, I had the joy of attending the installation of the new Bishop of Springfield, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski. The nuncio was in attendance as well as a number of bishops, particularly from the Northeast.
Bishop Rozanski was formerly the auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore so also in attendance was Archbishop Lori and the former archbishop, Cardinal O’Brien.
His parents and family were also in attendance.
The people were very pleased to welcome their new Bishop. He gave a lovely homily and he spoke a bit in Spanish and also in Polish, which was well received because they have a significant Polish community in the Springfield Diocese.
The occasion was also an opportunity for us to express our thanks to Bishop Timothy McDonald, who has served as Bishop of Springfield for 10 years.
During my time in Springfield I also had a chance to visit with Bishop Joe Maguire, who lives very near the Cathedral. He is originally from Brighton, was ordained for Boston and was a Boston auxiliary before being named coadjutor bishop in Springfield in 1976.
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Among the vocations in the Church, particularly one that was restored after the Vatican Council II, is the vocation of the consecrated virgin.
We were very happy to have the consecrated virgins from the archdiocese join me at the noon Mass here at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, and afterwards for lunch.
We were joined by Sister Marian Batho, who is our Delegate for Religious and Consecrated Life and is the one who coordinates their activities here in the archdiocese. During lunch, they had a chance to update me on their latest activities.
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We are very pleased that Pilot reporter Christopher Pineo has received the Archbishop O’Meara Award from the Pontifical Mission Societies. The Pontifical Mission Societies (the most well-known of which is the Society for the Propagation of the Faith) gives the award each year to recognize excellent coverage related to the missions in the Catholic press. Chris won the award for his story about youngsters from Plymouth running a lemonade stand to raise money for the Missionary Childhood Association.
Father Rodney Copp and Maureen Heil of our local Pontifical Mission Societies office were present for the official presentation of the award in my office Wednesday afternoon.
The Pilot has always been a very important instrument for raising mission awareness so, it seemed very fitting that there should be a recognition of the good work that is being done there to help people grow in their knowledge and commitment to the Church’s mission “ad gentes,” to the peoples.
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In the afternoon, we met with the auditors who come each year to the archdiocese to examine how well we are in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
This is a very important service of the local church to help us make sure that we are fulfilling all our commitments to screening, education and the other requirements that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has implemented to guarantee best practices in the area of child protection.
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That evening, I went to Dedham to join the Society of African Missions house in Dedham for their annual Mass and social. The provincial was the celebrant, but I addressed them at the end of the Mass.
The SMA fathers have been in the diocese for about 50 years. Previously they had a seminary here but now they have a mission house. They always send a group of about a dozen priests for the summer who help out at different parishes. It is a wonderful assistance for the archdiocese because very often our own priests are looking for a replacement so they can take a little time off during the summer.
The SMA Fathers were there, as well as a number of pastors and some of the parishioners of the parishes where they have been helping out during the summer.
They presented me with this beautiful reliquary
At the Mass they sang in French and English and some members of our local African communities sang in some of their native languages. The meal following the Mass featured a number of different African foods.
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Thursday, Congressman Stephen Lynch came to see me. He recently made a visit to the Texas-Mexico border as well as to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
He was there on a fact-finding mission for the Congress regarding the situation of the unaccompanied minors who are attempting to come to the United States. He has also been on several missions to Afghanistan and Iraq and wanted to discuss some of these issues with me.
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We have many priests visiting Boston from different parts the world during the summertime. So, this week we were happy to welcome a professor and the spiritual director of the seminary in Turin, Italy to the Cathedral for a couple of days. They stayed at St. James Church but we invited them to eat with us at the Cathedral.
I told them that we had Capuchins from Torino province working for many years in the archdiocese, at St. Patrick’s in Roxbury.
It was very interesting because one of the priests from their diocese was the rector of the seminary in Verapaz, Guatemala when I made my visitation there. It was a seminary for indigenous peoples and he was an Italian Fidei Donum priest working there. I could not recall his name but I remembered him very well. So, it was surprising for me when these priests said he wanted to be remembered to me. It just goes to show, it really is a small world.
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Thursday afternoon, I was visited by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the newly named Chief of the American Interests Section, which is what we call our quasi-embassy in Cuba since we do not have formal diplomatic relations with the Cuban government. They have their representatives in Washington and we have ours in Havana, but they are not a full Embassy though Ambassador DeLaurentis has full ambassadorial rank.
He has had a very interesting diplomatic career. He has been most recently involved in the United Nations, but in the past he has worked in the mission in Cuba. So, he is returning to a country where he spent time before.
This is a very important moment in American diplomacy, particularly around the issue of Alan Gross’s captivity and the desire to normalize the relationship between our countries and bring an end to the embargo.
It was an interesting opportunity to hear some of the ambassador’s ideas and share some of my own recent experiences in Cuba. He also told me he is very aware of the important work that is being done here in Boston to support Caritas Cubana, particularly through the efforts of Consuelo Isaacson and Micho Spring. Their work with Friends of Caritas Cubana is vital in supporting the Church’s programs helping the elderly and children and through food and medical aid programs.
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Finally, in light of the terrible recent events in Iraq, the Church throughout the world and locally have asked Catholics to offer their prayers.
Tonight, I will be celebrating a Mass with young adults at St. Leonard’s in the North End on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and I will be offering the Mass for the people of Iraq. After the Mass, Mother Olga, who is from Iraq, will address the young adults. Tomorrow, there will also be a special Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton at 5:30pm, at which we will join the Iraqi Community of Boston in praying for peace and an end to the persecution of Christians.
We have also asked all our parishes this weekend to remember the people of Iraq in their prayers of the faithful. It is important that we pray for them during this time when so much of the Christian population has been completely displaced and so many people have lost their homes, their families, and even their lives.
Until next week,