Visiting Sunset Point Camp
Hello and welcome!
As I have mentioned in some of my recent posts, for much of the first half of this month I have been travelling quite a bit for my meetings with the Holy Father and visits with my family. As such, I was unable to make a full blog post each week, just snippets here and there. So, I want to begin by thanking Fathers Karlo Hocurscak, Mark Storey, Michael Drea for their participation in the blog while I was in Rome and away.
Now that I’m back to my first full post in a while, I want to begin by catching up a little bit.
Earlier this week I met for first time with our new Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Kathleen Mears, whose appointment we announced today.
Our meeting was the final step of the review process for her candidacy. It was very clear to me that in addition to her marriage and her family, Catholic education is Mrs. Mears’ vocation and her passion. I am confident that we will be greatly blessed by her commitment to this important work. Also, I wish to further share my gratitude to Bishop Uglietto, Mr. Jack Regan and all the members of the Search Committee for the many, many hours given to their work and for bringing forth such an outstanding candidate.
- – -
During my time away, the Holy Father also made a number of changes in the Boston Province.
Here in the archdiocese, he recently accepted Bishop Walter Edyvean’s retirement.
We are very, very grateful for the outstanding and generous service he has provided to the Church over the years and we know he will continue to be a presence in the archdiocese. We wish him health and Godspeed in these years of retirement.
We have also had two new bishops named to the province. In addition to Bishop Edyvean, Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell and Fall River Bishop George Coleman have also begun their retirements.
We are very grateful for their presence in the province and the ministry they have so generously provided to God’s people. We look forward to the installation of their successors, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski for Springfield and Bishop Edgar da Cunha for Fall River.
- – -
As you know, I am unable to discuss much of what occurs in my meetings in Rome, but one thing I did want to share was how I came to see this particular fountain, called the Galea Fountain.
During the time when I was meeting with the Holy Father and the council of cardinals, one evening I went to dinner with Msgr. John Abruzzese, who is from the archdiocese and is working in the Synod of Bishops. And after dinner, he wanted to show us this fountain in the Vatican that I had never seen before. In fact, I did not even know it existed. It sits behind the Vatican Museums in an area where people seldom go.
He told me there are 100 fountains in the Vatican but of all of the fountains, this is the most unusual, with this huge ship sitting in the middle – it is practically life-sized! So I wanted to share this with all of the readers of my blog and tell you that, if you are ever visiting the Vatican, I hope you get a chance to see it in person.
- – -
This year, the Capuchin province of St. Augustine, of which I am a member, had our profession ceremony on Saturday, July 19. (For many years our profession services were always held on the feast of St. Bonaventure, which was July 14 but now, since the liturgists have changed the feast day to the 15th, I tell people that I was professed on Bastille Day!)
We had the profession of our seven novices who just completed their novitiate and for the ceremony we use the Chapel of the Franciscan Sisters of Mount Alvernia who have always been very close to the Friars. They work in many of the parishes that we work in and I believe their order also has German roots, so there was that connection as well.
There were about 70 or 80 Friars there to witness the event and I was edified to be one of them.
It is an opportunity for all of us to renew our vows as we accompany these men in their life of consecration and we pray that the Lord will grant them perseverance in their vocations. We also pray that the Lord will continue to bless us with young men who want to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis.
- – -
Sunday I visited St. Patrick’s Manor to visit Bishop John Boles and Bishop Frank Irwin, who are in residence there. We were greeted by Sister Bridget who is always so gracious.
I want to share with you this picture of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which is in the hallway there and think is very beautiful.
- – -
Monday, I paid a visit to Sunset Point Camp in Hull, which is run by Catholic Charities. This is a summer camp that serves over 400 inner-city children who are able to spend a wonderful vacation at the shore. Thanks to the generosity of the Flatley family the camp has been refurbished and I was there to bless the newly restored camp.
During my visit, the children sang songs for us and I was able to take a tour where I met many of the volunteers, counselors and supporters of the camp who all do so much to serve these children.
We are grateful to camp director Brian Ahl, Catholic Charities president Debbie Rambo and Beth chambers who is the regional director for Catholic Charities.
- – -
On Tuesday, I went to Merrimack College for dinner with the new Augustinian provincial, Father Michael Di Gregorio, and Father Bill Garland, who is a very close friend of mine. It was a chance to meet with the new provincial and thank him for the wonderful contribution that the Friars make to the life of the archdiocese.
- – -
On Wednesday, I met with Lisa Alberghini and Bill Grogan from the Planning Office for Urban Affairs at their annual meeting to discuss the great work and accomplishments of POUA over the past year.
POUA, one of the justice ministries of the archdiocese, has played an important role in developing permanent affordable housing for families and people in need. Lisa explained the leadership and advocacy roles that POUA has played in working to eliminate homelessness, prevent foreclosures, enable residents to have access to housing and repeal the casino law.
POUA recently completed the development of 51 units of affordable family housing on the former St. Joseph’s Parish property in Salem, which will provide decent, affordable housing in the Latino immigrant neighborhood.
Lisa also talked about POUA’s partnership with St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children and Holy Family Parish in Dorchester to develop 80 units of affordable family housing, with 20 units for homeless families. This special partnership of three Archdiocesan ministries combines their missions, expertise and commitment to serve the poor. Construction at the development looks great and is expected to be completed in 2015.
Lisa also updated me on some of POUA’s current development work, including its work with St. Francis House on a significant development in Boston, and its work with the Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and Sorrowful Mother in Brockton on the potential redevelopment of their campus into housing. The increased need for affordable housing and the limited resources to develop housing make the work of POUA all the more critical and important.
- – -
That evening, I attended a meeting of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management at the Boston College Club.
They had a dinner for Catholic philanthropists from throughout the country during which they spoke about ways that they could contribute to best business practices in the church and help the church in the area of administration, transparency and efficiency.
- – -
On Thursday I was very happy be joined for lunch by my cousin Suzy O’Malley Stevens and her husband Dr. Mark Stevens and one of their children, Brooke, who is a tennis champion.
They were in town because Brooke was taking part in a high school tennis championship being held at Harvard and they stopped by for a visit. As always, it was lovely to be able to see them again.
- – -
I was very touched to see the news this week of a meeting on Thursday between Pope Francis and Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Sudan because of her faith. She fled Sudan with her daughter and her husband and made her first stop in Rome, where she had the opportunity to meet the Pope. He thanked her for her courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith. Meriam’s commitment to her faith is inspirational, and it should encourage us to deeper faith and a willingness to share that faith with others.
Lastly, I ask you to join me in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are suffering greatly these days because of their faith. I’m sure many of you have watched the news coming out of Iraq, particularly out of Mosul where there are very few Christians left after being forced out by Islamic jihadists. Christians have lived in Mosul, which is Iraq’s second largest city, for nearly two thousand years. Now convents, monasteries and churches have all been evacuated and Christian families are being forced out because of their faith.
Last Sunday Pope Francis offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who are “persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything with them.” He also called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts. Please join me in praying for our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq: we stand in solidarity with them, and we suffer with them, for as scripture says – when one member of the body suffers, all suffer.
Until next week,
Guest post: Father Michael Drea
Hello and welcome!
This morning, I was pleased to take part in a press conference held by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, at which he expressed his willingness to allow either of two military bases in the Commonwealth to be used to temporarily house refugee children from Central America. This has been a request of the federal government and the governor Massachusetts wants to respond compassionately.
We are very pleased that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is responding to try to help these children who are entering the United States without their parents. Governor Patrick has contacted us and inquired if Catholic Charities and other Catholic organizations would be willing to help. Of course, we were more than happy to do whatever we can to lend our support to this project. I was pleased that representatives from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim groups were also present to express their support, as well.
I would like to share my remarks at the press conference with you here:
Governor Patrick has recognized the authentic human tragedy, and indeed humanitarian crisis, presented by the children now at the border coming from Central America. This past week, Pope Francis in addressing the question of immigration globally, recognized both the complexity of the question in its broad dimensions, but then focused on the overwhelming immediacy of the needs of these children. The Holy Father addressed directly the human and moral crisis on our border through these words:
“I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence: This is a category of migrants from Central America and Mexico itself who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain. They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected. These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.”
The Catholic Church at every level, globally, nationally and locally has long experience in assisting immigrants and refugees often fleeing from danger, suffering and deprivation, and we are willing to enter a collaborative relationship with the government to meet this urgent emergency.
We do not have Church facilities that are appropriate, but we do have social service agencies in the Archdiocese with skilled resources to provide programs of assistance and support within the framework of a larger federal and state program providing finances and collaboration. It is crucial for all of us I believe to begin any discussion with our eyes on these children. The Archdiocesan agencies are already stretched by demands here at home, but we still wish to offer our help in facing this humanitarian emergency. I ask my own faith community and the wider public to understand compassionately the extreme circumstances these children are facing. As a country and a Church we are capable of providing crucial assistance.
- – -
After concluding my meetings with the Holy Father earlier this month, I have been taking a few days to visit with my family and friends. Since I am only now getting back, this week I have asked Father Michael Drea to tell you a little about the many activities going on at his parish, St. Paul’s in Cambridge.
- Cardinal Seán
- – -
I am honored to have been asked to ‘guest blog’ this week for His Eminence, Cardinal Seán. This entry comes to you from the Parish of St. Paul, Harvard Square – Cambridge – home of St. Paul’s Choir School, the only Catholic Choir School for boys in the United States, and the Harvard Catholic Center, providing for the spiritual well-being of the Catholic community at Harvard University.
As the pastor of this unique parish in our archdiocese and senior chaplain to the Harvard Catholic Center, it is a great privilege to be able to serve the Church and the faithful who are drawn from the four corners of the world in a community that so intentionally engages the vital work of the New Evangelization. Joining me in this week’s post is John Robinson, our Music Director at St. Paul’s and the Choir School. I have asked John to share with you some of the highlights of our Choir School for boys in grades four through eight, while I will speak about the ministry to the students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents of Harvard University.
With Cardinal Sean and Choir School director John Robinson
Boston is the quintessential university town – home to some of the finest centers of higher education in America. Situated in this hub of academia, how important it is that we engage the talented, gifted and faith-filled young people who come to Boston and, for the purposes of this entry, to the shores of the Charles River, from the world over to undertake the academic pursuit at the highest level.
Since 1893 at Harvard, the Church has had a vital and active presence on the campus of what many term the ‘greatest university in world’. With approval from Harvard President Charles Eliot and with the support of Bishop John Keane, the rector of The Catholic University of America, the Harvard Catholic Center officially came into existence that year. At the time, The Pilot stated that the Harvard Catholic Center’s purpose was to “increase the friendship between the Catholic and Protestants which now exists in the University and to make the Catholic faith better known to those outside of it. Moreover, through this Catholic organization, eminent laymen and clergymen will come to Cambridge and lecture on import moral and religious questions.”
As I say so often, as Harvard engages these students in a variety of academic disciplines at the University, the Church must also form and shape these future leaders so as to be bright lights for Jesus Christ who go forth into the board rooms, courtrooms, surgical suites, labs, classrooms and the highest levels of government in the world as faith-filled Catholic leaders. Daily we strive to embrace the early motto of Harvard: Veritas Christo et ecclesiae – Truth for Christ and the Church!
As bright Catholic minds come to this University, the Harvard Catholic Center is fully responsible for providing for the spiritual well-being of the Catholic community on campus by offering an enriching faith experience sacramentally, spiritually, intellectually and through the lived witness of the Gospel in a social outreach context.
As chaplains, we never know whose lives we will touch through an encounter with Jesus. Just think for instance that at the Harvard Catholic Center the future-first Catholic American president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy ‘40, worshiped regularly at St. Paul’s and volunteered at the Center’s reception desk. Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ ‘40, the great American theologian was received into the Church as an undergraduate at St. Paul’s. This year, Aurora Griffin ’14 of California, a Catholic Rhodes Scholar heads to Oxford in the fall having served as the president at the Harvard Catholic Student Association. Countless other Catholic alumni have gone on to distinguish themselves in the world around us and the Catholic Center has helped to prepare them to live their faith in the world.
The work that my brother priests, Fr. George Salzmann, OSFS, graduate chaplain, and Fr. Mark Murphy, undergraduate chaplain, and I engage with our students helps them to live their faith with purpose and conviction in the midst of a world that does not always value faith. Evangelization and outreach is enhanced by the work of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) who are now in their third year under the guidance of the Catholic chaplains at Harvard. Together our energetic and enthusiastic team serves as a ‘Beacon for Jesus Christ’ at Harvard drawing not only Catholic students, but also those who are exploring entry into the Catholic faith through our RCIA program. How edifying it is to journey with these young people as they seek to grow in a relationship with Jesus that will impact, shape and forever change them as bright lights for the Lord in the world.
Young people are searching for the Truth, but unfortunately, the world offers conflicting and unfulfilling answers. Only Jesus Christ can satisfy the heart of these young people. This past Spring, we saw an evil message attempting to draw people away from Christ through the ‘black mass’ that threatened the Harvard Catholic community and the campus as a whole.
The Truth of Christ triumphed as over 2,000 young people along with Harvard President Drew Faust joined with us in prayer before our Eucharistic Lord to seek strength and guidance during a holy hour at St. Paul’s. Many readers of this blog will recall that event and I wish to thank you for your prayers that helped our community through that dark moment. That event confirmed so clearly that the presence of the Church at Harvard as well as on other campuses is so greatly needed for our young people. Please pray for us in our ministry!
And now, John Robinson will speak about another bright light for the New Evangelization at St. Paul’s – St. Paul’s Choir School.
- Father Drea
Directing the Choir at St. Paul’s is an incredible and varied job. First and foremost the Choir (the only Catholic Choir of men and boys in the United States) is here to raise hearts and minds to God each day at Mass. We sing great music from the history of the Church, which connects us to the prayers of Catholics throughout the ages. God’s great gift of music is a blessing we are thankful for on a daily basis. This great music is at the very heart of the boys’ development, and we are ever more grateful for the chance to sing it in its rightful liturgical context.
In addition to that ‘core’ responsibility we engage in a number of wonderful and exciting musical adventures every year. This last academic year saw us sing alongside the Vienna Boy Choir, the Harvard Glee Club, and the Choir of Guildford Cathedral amongst many others. But the real highlight of the year came in the form of a long-anticipated musical pilgrimage to Rome, in celebration of the Choir School’s 50th anniversary year. It’s very hard to name a high point in a visit which included singing in the presence of the Holy Father, for Mass at the Chair of St. Peter at the very heart of Christendom, as well as singing Mass in the Basilica at Assisi, at Santa Maria Maggiore and at Sant’Andrea della Valle from the glorious 17th century Choir Loft. We sang wonderful Latin Polyphony appropriate to the All Saints season (when we were there) and it was deeply moving to feel the synergy between incredible Architecture, Music, and Liturgy all combining in reverent praise. Many of the boys named this Roman experience as the most memorable of their entire Choir School years. We were so lucky to have a Pastor who knows Rome so well, and who was able to make such a daunting visit run so smoothly and calmly!
The Choir School was founded in 1963 by Dr. Theodore Marier in order to teach boys how best to serve the Church through music and to acquire an excellent Catholic formation and education. It was modeled on the great historic Cathedral and Collegiate Choir Schools in Europe, most of which now survive in England. In celebrating our 50th anniversary year which ran until June 2014, we were really able to ‘take stock’ of the achievements of this small but unique school. So many alumni returned during the year, especially from the early years, and spoke of all they owed to the Choir School. We are most honored to have nurtured a number of vocations to the religious life including even a Bishop in the form of our own Bishop Peter Uglietto ‘65.
Many alumni returned to some of our larger events and spoke of their joy at the Choir School continuing its core musical mission in singing works by great Catholic composers such as Palestrina, Bruckner and William Byrd. In addition to the tour to Rome, our 50th anniversary year also included a celebratory Vespers service with the Harvard Glee Club, an organ recital which featured alumni who have gone on to be organists and Directors of Music, and the highlight of a Mass celebrated by our own Cardinal Sean to round out the 50th anniversary year, at which we had the pleasure of singing his favorite setting: Mozart’s Coronation Mass.
Parents of boys in grade 3 and 4 are encouraged to consider St. Paul’s Choir School – the only Catholic choir school for boys in the U.S. When we work with boys to see if this could be a good fit, all we are looking for is potential. We know that many boys will not have had the chance to sing or be trained to the kind of standards we aspire to, so we are just looking for willingness to learn, and the ability to hold a tune.
When prospective pupils visit the School, we give them a short written test, designed to see how they are progressing academically, and a very friendly and informal singing session. Commitment to the Choir is essential, and so we always talk with parents at length about what this would mean for them, and about some of the challenges of attending such a unique School. In every case, however, the memories and experiences created by the School outweigh the level of commitment required, and Choir School parents are amongst the happiest of any School community.
We were fortunate indeed to get to know Monica and Kevin Fitzgibbons of Aim Higher Media during the past year. Having been aware of the Choir School for many years since Monica was at Boston University, this dynamic Catholic recording company contacted the Choir School after hearing the boys live at an event in Holy Cross Cathedral. After hearing the remarkable story of their careers in the (very high-end) recording industry, this all began to get very exciting.
This couple has done something remarkable for Church music in making best-selling recordings out of Catholic music sung by nuns. It seems very clear they are blessed with great vision, and guidance. Over the months, Fr. Drea and I got to know this wonderful Catholic recording team better and better, and we were overjoyed to be able to get to the point of actually making a recording with them.
The best kind of distribution and promotion will be used, which will all go to help raise awareness of the wonderful tradition of Church music, as well as to raise the profile of St. Paul’s Choir School, and to help advance our mission of singing beautiful Church Music in service to the liturgy, and increasingly to draw people to the Church as well. We could not be happier to be involved with this great project. As the Choir develops, having a fine recording or two is always a great catalyst to higher-profile tours, concerts and recruitment. Our first recording (a Christmas release) will be available on Amazon from October 7th this coming year, so please do support the Choir School by purchasing this perfect Christmas gift.
Please do join us during term time at the 11.00 a.m. Solemn Mass at St. Paul’s, Harvard Square. Please also share this post with parents of boys in grades 3 or 4 who seek a unique Catholic education.
- John Robinson
Reflections of a newly ordained priest: Father Mark Storey
Hello and welcome!
I hope you are all having a good start to the summer.
As I mentioned in my post last week, as I usually do this time of year, I have asked two of our newly ordained priests to introduce themselves to you through a guest post on my blog.
Last week, we heard from Father Karlo Hocurscak, who attended St. John’s Seminary and this week we have a post from Father Mark Storey, who attended Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston.
- Cardinal Seán
- – - – -
I’m Father Mark Storey, but please feel free to call me Father Mark.
I was born in Montreal just shortly after the melting of the northern polar ice caps, and I grew up in southern Ontario in the city of Hamilton, Grimsby which is close to the city of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls in southern Ontario.
In my late teens, my family moved back to Montreal for two years, just prior to moving to the Boston area in 1973. At that time we lived in Needham, right next door to Dedham. By the way, because inquiring minds want to know, I am a Boston Bruins fan, although I haven’t had much time to watch the game over the past four years.
I studied Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University where I received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering. Shortly afterwards, I joined an old historic Boston company with its origins in the mid 1800s, The Badger Company, located in Cambridge, where I worked with a great group of scientists, engineers and dear friends until the time that I left in 2010 — about 30 years.
The Badger Company specialized in the design, construction, startup and licensing of large commodity chemical plants, as well as refineries. Most of my work life involved projects and travel to the Far East, specifically in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China and South Africa for projects.
I have been married twice, the first time in 1982, and the second in 1992. I have a 28 year old daughter from my first marriage, Elizabeth, who lives at the family home on the South Shore. My first wife, Sandra, died in 1989 after a lengthy battle with metastatic cancer. Elizabeth was three years old at the time. My second wife, Mary Catherine, died in 1999 after extensive complications from diabetes and an almost two year period of time in nursing homes and hospitals. I believe that they have both gone to our true home, which is in heaven, and that they are praying in support of my vocation to the priesthood.
Cardinal Sean with my family
As for my faith life, I grew up in the Anglican Church in Canada and I remember as a youth regularly attending each Sunday morning. I was baptized, but not confirmed. It was convenient to attend each week since we lived right next door to the church. My mother sang in the adult choir and I sang in the children’s choir. But something happened in my life during my late teenage years and twenties. Either I grew complacent or perhaps just plain lazy, but I stopped going to church on a regular basis. I was searching for something, but I didn’t know just what. I certainly still believed in God and, if anyone were to ask me, I would have said that I was spiritual, but there was something lacking. There were even flirtations with other Christian denominations, which I attended only sporadically but I certainly had fallen away from any weekly praise and worship.
It wasn’t until my first wife Sandy died that I was suddenly shocked into the reality of being a single parent caring for a young child. As I mentioned previously, my daughter was three years old at the time. I realized that it was up to me, and me alone, to teach Elizabeth about the Christian faith. I was scared and I didn’t know how or where to begin. I prayed one afternoon for God to help me make the right decision. I remember like it was yesterday, that I committed my life to him if only he would help me. Soon thereafter, I began going back to church on a weekly basis, without missing a beat — first to the local Episcopal church, and then later with my fiancée, Mary, to the Catholic church in Hanover.
St. Mary’s, Hanover
At St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hanover I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the liturgy and the welcoming community and pastor there. At long last, I had found my new home. I entered RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and at the Easter Vigil 1992, I was officially confirmed into the Catholic Church, and Elizabeth was baptized.
Celebrating a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary’s Hanover in May. With me at the altar are Fr. Alfano, Deacon McLaughlin, Deacon Joy, Bishop Dennis, Fr. Chris Hickey, Deacon Harrington and Fr. Henry Doherty
They say that “Man Plans and God Laughs.” Well, after Elizabeth graduated from Emmanuel College, I had thoughts of retirement and living part of the year in Florida and the other half in Massachusetts.
My plan. But God had a very different idea for me.
My vocation came very suddenly when one Friday evening I was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and in a flash I just knew, I received an incredibly strong call that God was inviting me to study for the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Within a month, I was meeting with the Vocations Director for Boston and I entered Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, in August 2010.
During my studies, I have been assigned to some great parishes with some wonderful priests, and friends. My assignments took me to St. Agatha Parish in Milton, St. Mary’s Parish in Franklin, the collaborative of Sacred Heart and St. John’s Parishes in Manchester-by-the-Sea and Essex, and last year to St. Catherine of Alexandria in Westford.
Besides my seminary professors and pastors who helped in my formation, I have several friends who have guided me along the path to my own priesthood and shown me great examples of what parish priesthood is like. They have mentored me and stood by me when times got tough. Specifically, Father John Carmichael, Pastor at St. Ann’s in Marshfield, Father Chris Hickey Pastor of St. Mary’s in Hanover and St. Helens in Norwell, Father Richard Curran in Somerville, Father Henry Doherty former pastor in Hanover and Father Martin Connor a longtime spiritual director at St. John’s Seminary, who was my spiritual director before I entered Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary. In my opinion, the seminary Fathers, professors and staff are world class and all had a hand in taking “the likes of me” and forming me to become a priest of Jesus Christ.
I am very excited, and blessed to have been assigned to St. Mary’s in Dedham by Cardinal Seán. With the Help of God, I will always try to do my very best for each and every one there.
God Bless you All,
Reflections of a newly ordained priest: Father Karlo Hocurscak
Hello and welcome!
Each year around this time, after they have had a chance to settle in to their new parish assignments, I like to invite some of our newly ordained priests to share some of their experiences with you.
This week, I have asked Father Karlo Hocurscak to tell you a little about himself. Next week, we will hear from Father Mark Storey.
I wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!
- Cardinal Seán
- – -
When I look back on my ordination day of May 24th, I can only remember the joy I felt that day. I lived at St. John’s Seminary for six years leading up to my ordination to the priesthood. Studying at the seminary was a privileged time in my life as I was focused on learning about theology and deepening my relationship with Christ and his Church. Studying at St. John’s Seminary was challenging, but it affirmed in me the conviction that Jesus was calling me to be His priest. Now that my time in the seminary was over after six years, the day I dreamed about had finally arrived.
When the ordination began, the nine of us who were to be ordained processed into the Cathedral and I was able to see all the various groups of people who I knew from my journey toward priesthood. There was a group of people from my home parish of Sacred Hearts in Bradford, where I was for ten years before I decided to enter the seminary. There was also a large group from the tri-parishes in Brockton of St. Edith Stein, Christ the King, and Our Lady of Lourdes where I was assigned as a deacon who came out to watch my ordination. There were other people who came from other locations as well, such as my family and friends including a Third Order Carmelite who prayed for me every day for six years in her daily prayers. It was wonderful to see so many people who walked with me on my journey to the priesthood being able to see my ordination.
The experience of being ordained is something that is hard to put into words. In the seminary, we learned a lot about what the priesthood is. While study of the priesthood is necessary and beautiful when I think about how Jesus wants me to share in His priesthood, no amount of study can cover the complete reality of the priest as it is wrapped into the mystery of Christ himself whom we can never know completely. God has an individual plan for each and every one of his priests and I will spend the rest of my life discovering what that is. Before the awesomeness of this moment in my life, all I could think to do was to ask the Holy Spirit to come into my heart and to make me a holy priest after the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
You can sometimes worry about things that can go wrong and I had that moment during my ordination. After I was ordained Cardinal O’Malley anointed my hands with chrism oil. Since as a priest, I consecrate the Eucharist and carry out many of my priestly duties using my hands, they are anointed as a sign that my hands are to be used to carry out sacred works.
After my hands were anointed, I was supposed to wipe the oil off of my hands, but the purificator that I thought was waiting for me was not at my seat. I can tell you that Cardinal O’Malley was very generous with the oil when he anointed my hands. Therefore I started to worry because I had a lot of oil on my hands. Next, we all had to go up and to receive the chalice and paten from the Cardinal as a sign of our priestly duty to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the Christian people. During our rehearsal we were told to grab the chalice and paten like we were going to take it from the Cardinal. But as you can see, I was barely touching it because I still had the chrism oil all over my hands.
Now I was really starting to worry because the next part was going to be the kiss of peace where all the priests were going to come up to me to welcome me into the priesthood. There was no way that I could possibly keep the oil on my hand with more than a hundred priests coming to greet me.
The reason that I wanted to wipe my hands clean with a purificator is because there is a tradition that a newly ordained priest gives it to his mother. When the mother of a priest dies, the cloth used to wipe the chrism from a newly ordained priest is placed in her hands and she is buried with it. Then at the resurrection for the final judgment, the mother would have the cloth with the chrism on it to show as a sign that she gave a son to the Church to share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Finally somebody saw that I still needed to wipe my hands and got me a purificator which the photographer from the Pilot caught me using.
Now with oil free hands, I was able to exchange the sign of peace with Cardinal O’Malley and my new brother priests.
After the ordination, we gathered all together for a group photo with the class. Our ordination class of nine was the largest ordination for Boston in over ten years. Let us pray that more men will listen to if Christ is calling them to the priesthood and to generously answer that call to serve Christ as his priest.
I had my first Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Lourdes in Brockton. It was where I was assigned for my pastoral assignment for my final two years in the seminary which included my time as a transitional deacon. It was wonderful to be able to say Mass in a parish where many people were able to accompany me on my journey as I drew closer to my priesthood ordination. Having prepared for six years to be a priest, it is a surreal experience to be able to offer the sacrifice of the Mass. I would also like to thank the pastor, and my friend, Fr. Joseph Raeke. His example to me and his willingness to share his 34 years of priesthood with me made my pastoral assignment with him a joy and helped to prepare me for priesthood in a way that I would not have been able to do without his guidance.
My first assignment is in Beverly. I am currently serving in St. Mary Star of the Sea, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Margaret. I am assigned with Fr. Mark Mahoney who taught a course at the seminary during my last year at St. John’s Seminary. When I heard that I was assigned to work with Fr. Mahoney I was very excited to know that he would be my future pastor.
St. Mary Star of the Sea
St. John the Evangelist
The day before my starting date in the Beverly collaborative a fundraiser golf tournament was held for St. Mary’s School. I happily accepted an invitation to join. So I got to play golf for my first day in the parish. If my friends from the seminary learned that, they might be a little jealous.
It was a beautiful day, but my golf skills where not very good. I told anyone who saw me swing at the ball that I spent more time studying theology than working on my golf game. Even though my team did not win, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet people in the parish and for us to get to know each other.
My first few weeks in Beverly have been wonderful. The people have been very welcoming to me as I have been adjusting to life as a priest. I have had many first experiences as a priest in Beverly. In my first three weeks in Beverly, I have had my first anointing, confession, funeral, and many first Masses in the collaborative, as there are nine weekend Masses that are offered in Beverly. My first month of priesthood has been a joy. Yes, the life of a priest is busy, but if God gives strength to His priests to carry out His holy will. One thing that I would ask though is if you have some spare moment during the week, please pray for more holy priests who are willing to serve Christ and His Church to lead the people of God to Christ.
Celebrating our wedding anniversary couples
We are gratified that this week the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled to strike down the Massachusetts law that allowed for the creation of 35-foot buffer zones around the entrance of abortion facilities.
For people to be able to express their convictions in public is a right, and we trust that those holding vigils at abortion clinics are not harassing people but rather praying for them and offering them an alternative because we know that many women opt to accept the help that is being offered to them by sidewalk counselors.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a very important one that protects religious freedom in a time when there are many challenges to religious rights.
I’d like to share with you the statement I released through the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops shortly after the decision was announced:
Today the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a Massachusetts law imposing criminal penalties on pro-life Americans who peacefully pray for and offer alternatives to pregnant women approaching abortion clinics. This discriminatory law barred these citizens from gathering on nearby public sidewalks, while exempting “clinic escorts” trained to expedite women into the facility. Clearly this was an attack on pro-life Americans’ freedom of speech, and we welcome the Court’s decision to overturn the law.
This now overturned legislation reflects an ominous trend in our society. Abortion supporters, having long denied that unborn children have a right to life, would deny that their fellow Americans who seek to protect the unborn have the same rights as other Americans — the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association; the right to participate in the public square and serve the vulnerable in accord with our moral convictions. Increasingly we see this trend evidenced at various levels of government. We are encouraged and pleased to know that with regard to this particular issue, our highest court has affirmed the American tradition of basic constitutional rights for all.
- – -
Last Wednesday we celebrated the Jubilee anniversary Mass for our priests and religious brothers in the archdiocese. Along with our diocesan priests who were celebrating 25 years of ordination, there were two Xaverian Brothers celebrating 50 years of religious life, two Brothers of Hope celebrating 25 years, and one Salesian father who joined us for the celebration.
With the jubilarian priests
There was a concelebrated Mass in Bethany Chapel and afterwards we had a gathering with them and their friends and families.
With the jubilarian brothers
It was a very joyful occasion to be able to celebrate the jubilees of our priests and consecrated religious.
- – -
Thursday, was the final meeting of the archdiocese’s Improved Financial Relationship Committee. They have been very successful in guiding and implementing the archdiocese’s financial new model that promotes greater cooperation between the archdiocese and the parishes.
Their dedication was extraordinary. I believe they have had more than 50 meetings over the years. We are very grateful to all those who volunteered and serve so generously on that board along with our staff members who have done extraordinary work and particularly Denise McKinnon-Biernat.
To thank them for all their hard work over these many years at the end of the last meeting we had a light reception with them.
- – -
Friday, I was visited by Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa of the Diocese of Masaka, Uganda. He was accompanied by Father Joseph Kayongo, who is a priest from Uganda who ministers to the Ugandan Catholic community here in the archdiocese while pursuing a graduate degree at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and Fathers Emmanuel Delli and David Ssenkaii.
Bishop Kaggwa was in Boston for the annual Mass for the Ugandan Martyrs, celebrated at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. The Mass is always an inspiring tribute to the faith of the Ugandan people and an uplifting and joyous celebration.
- – -
Saturday, I visited St. John Parish in Townsend to dedicate and bless their new parish center. It was the Feast of Corpus Christi so there was a Eucharistic procession at the conclusion of the Mass.
The whole parish participated in the celebration and part of the celebration was the blessing of the new parish center.
Father Jeremy St. Martin is pastor at St. John’s. He is doing just a fabulous job there and oversaw the construction of this new center. I know it will be a wonderful resource for the parish for years to come.
- – -
Sunday, as we do each year in the spring, we have an opportunity for couples from throughout the archdiocese who are celebrating significant wedding anniversaries to come to a Mass at the Cathedral and to renew their vows. We had a full Cathedral for the celebration this year.
Couples celebrating more than 60 years of marriage:
50th anniversary couples:
25th anniversary couples:
Among those renewing their vows were the parents of Father Jonathan Gaspar and Mary Ann McLaughlin co-director of our office of worship and spiritual life.
It is always a beautiful, happy occasion.
During this year’s celebration we were blessed to have a relic of St. John Paul II present at the Cathedral. The relic was brought in procession at the beginning of the Mass and placed by the altar.
Afterwards, it was taken to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where the lines to venerate it were out the door.
- – -
Then, in the afternoon, I went to greet the people at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church). It was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who is the Patroness of Haiti.
There was great enthusiasm because the new Cardinal from Haiti came to celebrate the Mass this year, Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who is staying with me at the rectory.
- – -
During Cardinal Chibly’s stay with us at the cathedral rectory we were visited by Brother Jim Peterson and Father Frantz Giles, a Capuchin from Haiti who is staying in Boston this month.
It was good to learn about the Capuchins’ ministry in Haiti and how they are assisting with the ongoing work of assisting people in need there and rebuilding the work of the Church following the devastating earthquake there.
- – -
Then that evening, I attended the annual gala dinner to support our Redemptoris Mater Seminary which was held in Norwood.
This year, they honored Bob Mahoney, who serves on our archdiocesan finance Council and John Garvey, President of the Catholic University of America.
With Bob Mahoney and his family
With President Garvey and Bob before the dinner
President Garvey was the evening’s keynote speaker.
He delivered a stunning address to the people on the effects that artificial contraception has had on modern society by separating sexuality from the transmission of life and from relationships. It was a very powerful exposition that I think was a very important one.
The Church’s teachings on contraception are often little understood and sometimes greeted with great condescension on the part of secular society. Even by some Catholics, this teaching is seen as another one of the Church’s “goofy rules.” The Church’s rules are not goofy. There is great wisdom behind them and President Garvey’s very erudite and cogent presentation of the Church’s teaching on contraception was one of the best that I have heard. Fortunately, there was a video taken of the talk, so you have a chance to hear it for yourself:
The dinner was a great success. I understand it was the largest attendance that they have had so far and many priests from throughout the diocese attended.
As they do every year, the seminarians sang a number of songs for us at the end of the dinner.
During one song, they even briefly put a sombrero on the head of Dr. Helen Jackson!It was just a very joyful evening and we were very happy to be able to honor two very fine Catholic laymen, Bob Mahoney and President Garvey.
Until next week,