The USCCB General Assembly
Hello and welcome!
I want to begin this week noting that we are all very concerned with the situation of Syrian refugees, which was already very pressing but now has been further complicated by the reaction to the attacks last week in Paris. So, this week I issued a statement urging a continued compassionate response to the Syrian refugee situation:
Last Friday I promised Archbishop Vingt-Trois of Paris the prayers and support of the Archdiocese of Boston, for the people of Paris and all of France. The crisis in that nation continues and so must our prayer and solidarity with the citizens of France.
The consequences of the terrorist attacks on innocent civilians have extended throughout Europe and debates about the ramifications have reached our shores. We live in a dangerous time and it is clear that enhanced security procedures are needed, to make every effort to ensure public safety and good order. While that need is evident and widely recognized, decisions concerning the specific measures taken require careful deliberation.
One question which has arisen immediately concerns the U.S. immigration policy. At the state and national level positions have been taken questioning or directly opposing the policy of accepting Syrian refugees, based on the premise that because they are Syrian they might pose a security challenge to communities and our nation.
Public officials face very difficult challenges in an obviously dangerous world today. But proposals to simply exclude Syrian refugees as such lack the balance and humanitarian perspective needed at this time. For many months now we have watched Syrian individuals and families – Muslim and Christian alike – be driven from their homes and homeland and set adrift in a chaotic world, unprepared to provide for their safety or honor their humanity. The barbaric attacks in Paris, which demand a strong response and require policies that as best possible prevent recurrence, should not be used to efface the memory of Syrians and others from the Middle East and Africa who are desperately in need of shelter, support and safety.
Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Boston will continue its efforts to support a national policy on immigration based on humanitarian need regardless of place of origin. We pledge our cooperation with civic officials at all levels and ask the wider support of our communities as we seek to respond to our brothers and sisters who are indeed yearning to breathe free.
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I spent much of this week at the U.S. bishops annual General Assembly in Baltimore and then in Rome for meetings of the congregation for the clergy.
But, before I left, I was very happy to attend the annual banquet to support St. Mary’s High School in Lynn. The school is celebrating the 20th year of this banquet, which is called the Cardinal Cushing Celebration.
The banquet was held at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem which was just a wonderful venue. During the evening we heard from a number of students who perform for us and one student offered his reflection on his experience at the school.
There was a great turnout for the celebration and we were pleased to learn that the evening raised over $2 million to support the school.
During the evening, they presented me with the school’s Cushing Award and also announced that they would be establishing a scholarship in my honor. I am a very humbled and gratified to know that a student will be receiving a fine Catholic education in my name.
We are so grateful to Grace Cotter Regan, who is the Head of School at St. Mary’s High and to Board Chair William Mosakowski and all those who do so much to continue the excellent tradition of Catholic education at St. Mary’s.
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Friday, I left for Baltimore to attend the USCCB General Assembly and the administrative sessions leading up to it. Of course, our meeting took place in the shadow of the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. So, while many of the bishops who were already in Baltimore released their own individual statements, the administrative committee released a joint statement that I would like to share with you here:
Terror always seeks to separate us from those we most love. Through their suffering, courage and compassion, Parisians are reminding us that the common bond of humanity is strongest when the need is greatest. We pledge our prayers for everyone who suffers from this horrific violence and our advocacy to support all those working to build just and peaceful societies.
To the people of France, we mourn with you and honor the lives lost from several nations, including our own. To our brothers and sisters in the Church in France, your family in the United States holds you close to our hearts. May the tender and merciful love of Jesus Christ give you comfort during this great trial and lead you on a path toward healing and peace.
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On Saturday and Sunday, before the plenary session began, I attended meetings of the US Bishops’ Pro-Life committee and the subcommittees on the Church in Latin America and in Africa.
One of our main tasks at these subcommittee meetings on Latin America and Africa is to distribute the funds raised in the special collections taken throughout the country to benefit the people in those areas.
We are very proud of how generous the Catholics of Boston have been in supporting the Church’s works of mercy and evangelization in these countries. Every year, Catholics from Boston are the top donors to the collection for Latin America and among the top in the collection for Africa. I was very pleased that among the many different types of programs we were able to help fund were three programs in Africa to promote child protection.
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As we always do, we began our gathering with an opening Mass at the Basilica in Baltimore, which is a very beautiful and historic church.
This was of course the first cathedral in the States and is where Bishop John Carroll is buried. It is also where the first Bishop of Boston, Bishop Cheverus, was ordained to the episcopate.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz was our concelebrant and homilist.
Among significant issues that the bishops dealt with during this meeting were pastoral statement on the problem of pornography in our society and a document on faithful citizenship.
We voted and approved a statement that addresses the problem on pornography, called “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography.” The statement was prepared by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. As chairman of the committee, Bishop Malone presented the document to the assembly. The statement is the first on this subject from the conference. I think it is well written and will be very helpful for our priests and those involved in religious education and pastoral work.
We also approved some additions to the Bishops’ political responsibility document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” to update it to reflect some of the teachings of Pope Francis and the later encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI.
I was involved in two presentations at the conference. One addressed the subject of Project Rachel.
Project Rachel is a program that helps people heal in the aftermath of an abortion and we urged the bishops to promote it as an activity of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The need for this program is easy to see when one considers the number of people affected by abortion in the last 43 years. It is estimated that 45 million women in this country have had abortions since 1973. Since Catholics make up about a quarter of the U.S. population, as many as 10 million Catholic women may be included in that number. Add to that the fathers and grandparents of those unborn children, as well as the medical professionals involved in abortion, and the enormity of the problem becomes evident. We are very proud of the work that Project Rachel does to heal to wounds of abortion and are very pleased with the work they do in Boston.
I made the presentation with Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal Wuerl and we particularly urged our brother bishops to help promote the website of Project Rachel, HopeAfterAbortion.org which is being visited by thousands of people every week.
The other presentation I made with Archbishop Blair and Archbishop Malone to promote the convocation for Catholic leadership to be held in 2017 in Orlando.
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On Wednesday, I travelled to Rome to attend a two-day conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy, “One Vocation, One Formation, One Mission.” It marked the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Vatican II decrees on the Ministry and Life of Priests and on Priestly Training. We gathered at the Urbaniana.
I was asked to give one of the keynote addresses of the conference, and the theme of my talk was “Taken from among men for the things of God. The joys and challenges of the ministry of the diocesan priest.” In my remarks, I drew on many of the themes that came out of our last meeting of recently ordained priests in the archdiocese.
The conference was held yesterday and today. And, this morning, we were very pleased to have a meeting with the Holy Father.
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We happened to arrive in Rome on the feast day of the dedication of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Basilicas, which is November 18.
You will notice that all the consecration candles on the walls around the Basilica are lit.
You see, when a new church is anointed, there are special candles all along the wall that are lit for the occasion as you can see in these photos from the dedication of new Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth a few years ago.
Normally these candles are not used, except on the anniversary of the dedication.
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While we were there, we also took this photo of the spot on the floor marking the length of our own Holy Cross Cathedral. Some may not know that within St. Peters Basilica, which is the largest church in the world, markers on the floor indicate the size of other significant world churches to give people a sense of its size.
Our cathedral is larger than St. Patrick’s Cathedral New York and just slightly smaller than the great Hagia Sophia of Constantinople.
Here’s a photo taken from the spot of the marker looking towards the altar.
And here’s a photo looking back, indicating how much larger St. Peter’s Basilica is than our own cathedral.
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We also took special note of the Holy Door in the Basilica, which is opened to mark special jubilee years.
At the end of our Cheverus awards ceremony on November 29, I will be blessing the holy door at the Cathedral the Holy Cross that we will open on December 13 during our celebration in the archdiocese for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
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On Thursday, during a break in the conference, I had an opportunity to meet with a delegation from Serra International, including their president Timothy O’Neill.
They gave me a gift to present to the Holy Father, which is a pin with a replica of the U.S. postage stamp commemorating the canonization of St. Junipero Serra.
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That day I had lunch with our Boston seminarians and others at the Pontifical North American College. We sat at the “Portuguese table,” where once a week during lunch they speak only Portuguese.
During my visit I also had a chance to see some of the renovations that have been done to the seminary over the last year, including the new tower building that was dedicated about a year ago, though was my first opportunity to tour it. The new facilities are just stunning.
The North American college is such a valuable resource to the Church. Priests formed there bring back an important sense of the universality of the Church and of the ministry of the Holy Father. Also, the kinds of professional training in post graduate studies that are available are wonderful. Usually, our men who study there spend an extra year to earn a master’s degree in some aspect of theology. This helps us to enrich our clergy and give us more resources for the pastoral work of the archdiocese.
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That evening, I had an opportunity to have dinner with some of the staff at the pontifical commission on child protection. One of our new additions the staff is Teresa Kettelkamp, who previously headed the U.S. Bishops’ Child Protection Office. Before her work with the USCCB, Teresa had a long career in law enforcement and retired as a colonel of the Illinois State police. She is a very dedicated laywoman and we are so grateful that she is willing to use her considerable skills and expertise to assist us in the work of the Child Protection Commission.
After dinner, we took her to see my favorite fountain in Rome – and they are many to choose from – the Fountain of the Galleon in Vatican City near the Vatican Museums.
I find it remarkable how out of the way, and almost hidden this fountain is. As I always like to say, I had been visiting the Vatican for almost 30 years before I even knew it was there!
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Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that the second collection at parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston this weekend with benefit our retired women religious. I would like to share with you this video, in which Sister Marian Batho, our Delegate for Religious, explains the importance of supporting our Retired Sisters.
Until next week,
Order of the Holy Sepulchre Installation
I want to begin this week updating everyone on the restoration work at the Cathedral.
The sacristy is finished, and the doors have been refurbished.
They continue to clean the exterior stones and, less visible, but no less important, they have also been working on repointing the exterior stone and sealing all the windows to help preserve the structure for years to come.
And, of course, we are anxiously waiting for the bells that have now been hung to begin to ring.
I hear from many visitors that they are pleased to see the Cathedral shaping up so well. We are very grateful to Father Kevin O’Leary and those who worked so hard to raise the money and support this refurbishment that was so necessary to prevent water damage.
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Thursday, we had one of our regular meetings of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
Among the many items on the agenda was a report on youth ministry. Father Chris Hickey spoke about his experiences with LifeTeen and the great success that has meant in a number of parishes. We also heard about the preparations for the upcoming World Youth Day in Poland and I added to that the importance of our pilgrimages to Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life.
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Saturday morning, I was visited by a group from the Italian movement Cenacolo, which has a special ministry geared towards those suffering from addiction.
They are interested in doing more in the region and, appropriately, they were accompanied by Father Joe White whose ministry is geared very much towards working with people in recovery and with addictions.
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Later that day, I travelled to Portland, Maine for the installation of new members for the Order of the Holy Sepulchre Northeast Lieutenancy.
The Order of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the oldest organizations in the Church, which began as a military organization that protected the sacred sites in the Holy Land. Today, they continue that mission by committing themselves to support the works of mercy carried out by the Church there.
There were a large number of new inductees this year, as well as a number promotions within the Order.
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Sunday I went to the Fatima Shrine in Holliston to be together with the Xaverian Missionaries as they celebrated the feast day of their founder, St. Guido Maria Conforti.
The feast day is on November 5, so I thanked them for redeeming that date for us. The old English adage is “Remember, remember, the 5th of November,” which in England was Guy Fawkes’s Day and in Boston it was Pope’s Day, when they used to burn the pope in effigy on Boston Common. But now, I said, we can think of it as the feast of a good Catholic bishop, the founder of the Xaverian Missionaries.
The Mass not only marked his feast day, but also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II document “Ad Gentes,” on the missions and also celebrated the closing Year for Consecrated Life.
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Then, in the afternoon I celebrated Mass for the Vietnamese community in the archdiocese. I always like to gather with them for a Mass around the Feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs, which is November 24.
It was a great joy to be joined by so many hundreds of members of the very vibrant Vietnamese community in Boston, as well as many of the Vietnamese priests, deacons and sisters in the archdiocese.
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Monday, a group from Catholic Relief Services was here at the Cathedral. They are making a film, and they asked me to be part of it.
CRS does so much in moments of natural disaster or crisis around the world, aiding people who are suffering from the devastation of war or famine. So, I was very happy to do whatever I could to support their work.
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On Tuesday, I celebrated a Month’s Mind Mass here at the Pastoral Center in remembrance of Ruth Cox, who was one of our longest-serving and most faithful employees. She worked for the archdiocese for over 25 years. Her unfailing spirit of friendliness and service and joy was a great source of strength for our priests and the many people lucky enough to know her.
We are very happy that her family and so many of her friends and our priests were able to be present with us.
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With us at the Mass was Father Richard Gibbons, the director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, who had come for a visit.
He was here to explore the possibility of a diocesan pilgrimage next summer to mark the 40th anniversary of the new basilica of the shrine and for the celebration of its reconsecration.
Until next week,
New affordable housing for Dorchester and Haverhill
Hello and welcome!
It was a real joy this week that we were able to dedicate two new affordable housing developments of the archdiocese’s housing office, the Planning Office for Urban Affairs.
On Thursday I celebrated the ribbon cutting for 80 units of new affordable housing that was developed in Dorchester.
This housing was built on the former St. Kevin’s Parish property, when Father Jack Ahern and the Holy Family Parish decided to have POUA use the property to continue the mission of the Church by building affordable housing.
Mayor Walsh and Lisa Alberghini, President of POUA, joined me for this wonderful celebration, along with many state and city officials.
Named “Uphams Crossing,” the development includes 20 units of permanent housing for homeless families, and 60 units for working families who can’t afford the increasing rent levels in Boston.
Children from St. John Paul II Catholic Academy and The Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta Youth Parish Choir entertained the audience with great enthusiasm before the event!
To show how great the need is for this housing, POUA received nearly 3,500 applications for the 80 units.
Mayor Walsh, who has been very supportive of the work of POUA, was presented with stained glass from the St. Kevin’s Church during the event.
A very special moment during the celebration was when one of the new residents, Christine Wright, spoke about her journey from homelessness to this wonderful new housing.
She is so excited and grateful to live there with her 8 year old daughter, and told a very moving story.
Supportive services will be provided at the development by St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children (SMC), making this a great collaborative effort among three Archdiocesan entities: POUA, Holy Family Parish and SMC.
I am so happy that the Church was able to honor the legacy of the former St. Kevin’s Parish and parishioners in this way and that, through POUA’s efforts, the archdiocese works hard to address the needs of the housing deprived.
Also on Tuesday I attended another Planning Office ribbon cutting with Lisa in Haverhill.
This time, the housing was created by converting a former school building into 12 apartments in a development called “The Apartments at 165 Winter.”
In Haverhill, Lisa and I were joined by Mayor Jim Fiorentini; Governor Baker’s Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development, Chrystal Kornegay; Tom Gleason of MassHousing; and Dori Conlon of Bank of America. Unfortunately, Representative Brian Dempsey was unable to be there because the Legislature was in session, but we thanked him for his tremendous support.
With Undersecretary Kornegay and Lisa Alberghini
For this new housing, POUA received 400 applications for only 12 apartments, which, again, just underscores the need for affordable housing in our communities. As Lisa mentioned in her remarks, someone earning minimum wage in Massachusetts would have to work for something like 110 hours a week (nearly three full-time jobs) just to be able to afford a small two bedroom apartment — and that doesn’t take into account food or other living expenses.
It’s heartbreaking to see so many people who can’t find decent, affordable homes. I know Father Murray from St. James and St. John the Baptist Parishes is working hard to bring attention to the need for more affordable housing in the area.
Again, at this dedication we also heard from a young mother who was coming out of homelessness. One of the new residents, Nicole Carter, shared her story with us.
Nicole said that when her daughter was just two days old she moved into the Emmaus Family Shelter, which was just one street away. While she was speaking she pointed out to us where her room was in the shelter.
Every day she walked by this property and watched it being built. She said she remembered stopping and praying for an opportunity to live there. Unfortunately, her husband couldn’t stay with them at the shelter, because the curfew rules didn’t allow for it as he worked an overnight shift. Thankfully, when she got into the Apartments at Winter Street the family was able to be reunited. So, in a way, having this new apartment did more than just give them place to live, it allowed them to really be a family once again. It was just such a very moving testimony.
After the ceremony I visited Nicole’s apartment and blessed it.
We are so grateful to Lisa and all the Planning Office Staff who worked so hard to make all this possible.
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On Friday, I was visited by Father John Cecero, the provincial of the new USA Northeast Province of Jesuits formed out of the New York and New England Provinces.
I was very pleased to be able to speak to him and I thank him for all the help that the Jesuits provide in our parishes, particularly for the young Jesuits from all over the world who are here working with our different immigrant groups. They have made a great contribution to the archdiocese.
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Saturday, I celebrated the Mass at the Pastoral Center for the Admission to Candidacy for men who will become permanent deacons.
There were 12 candidates including several from the different ethnic committees of the archdiocese. Our new candidates are:
Sermed Ashkouri of Our Lady of Mesopotamia Syriac Catholic Mission in Newton;
Nadim Daou of St. Anthony Maronite Church in Lawrence;
Osvaldo Fernandez of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence;
David Giangiordano of St. James Parish in Stoughton;
Robert Horne of St. Joseph Parish in Needham;
Charles Kelley of St. John the Evangelist in Townsend;
Hernan Mendez of St. Patrick Parish in Stoneham;
Jean France Philippe of St. Angela Merici in Mattapan;
Julio Sanchez of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence;
Francis Sung of St. James the Greater Church in Boston;
James Thompson of Sacred Heart in Hanover; and
Cristino Ynfante of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence.
We are very grateful to Msgr. Fay, our Permanent Diaconate Office and all those involved in the formation of our new deacons.
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Sunday was, of course, All Saints Day, and I celebrated Mass for the Spanish community at the Cathedral. Afterwards, they had a fiesta with people dressed as different saints.
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Then, in the afternoon I went to St. John’s Seminary for the concert, Music in Remembrance of the Faithful Departed, anticipating All Souls the following day.
I blessed the organ, which is only recently being used again after undergoing renovations.
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On All Souls I observed the tradition of celebrating three Masses on that day. I always like to do this because only on All Souls Day and on Christmas is the priest allowed to celebrate three Masses – unless there is pastoral need.
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Tuesday, I paid a visit to Sacred Heart School in Kingston.
I had not been there in many years, so I was happy to be back.
The school is run by the Sisters of Divine Providence, whom I know very well because, being a German foundation, in my province they were the sisters who worked in all our parishes – both in Pittsburgh and in Puerto Rico. In fact, there is one sister at Sacred Heart from the town in Puerto Rico, Utuado, where I had worked as a brother.
Cardinal Cushing helped in establishing the school, which is located on a huge parcel of land. It’s just a beautiful facility and I believe that, in all, they have something like 800 students in grades pre-K through 12.
Pamela Desmarais is the President of Sacred Heart and they have an Early Childhood Center, headed by Sister Angela Provost; a primary school, headed by principal Kim Stoloski; and the high school, headed by principal Michael Gill.
With Father Walter Keymont, who does so much helping at the school and High School principal Michael Gill
I visited the preschool where the little children sang some very nice songs for us.
Then, we gathered with the elementary and high school students for Mass in their auditorium.
I also thought it was interesting that the highway there is called Bishops Highway and is Route 80, taken from the number of Cardinal Cushing’s license plate, which remains the license plate number of the Archbishop of Boston to this day.
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Wednesday, I was in Washington D.C. for an Executive Board Meeting of The Catholic University of America and, as I always like to do when I’m there, I paid a visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
I took some pictures of the chapels in the Basilica to share with you.
This is the Maronite Chapel.
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, with the image of the Wedding Feast at Cana.
This is one of the newer chapels, the Italian chapel of Our Lady of Pompeii, which is just stunning.
The Irish Chapel with Our Lady of Ireland sitting in the middle of a pool, representing the many holy wells in Ireland.
This is one of my favorite prayers from the wall of the Irish Chapel.
In case it is difficult to read, it says:
Holy Mary if thou wilt hear thy supplicant – I put myself under the shelter of thy shield. When falling in the slippery path thou art my smooth supporting hand staff. There is no hound in fleetness or in chase, north wind or rapid river as quick as the Mother of Christ to the bed of death, to those who are entitled to her kindly protection.
I must have been in the Basilica hundreds of times, but I never noticed before that they have a statue of St. Conrad of Parzham, who is the only saint from our Capuchin province.
I had heard recently that his statue was there, but I had never seen it. St. Conrad was the Porter at Altötting, the Marian shrine in Bavaria. And so, fittingly, right nearby in the shrine is the statue of Our Lady of Altötting.
While I was there, I noticed a man giving a tour, so I waited to hear what he had to say as he went by. He was explaining that one area was all Jesuit saints, etc. and when he got to this section he said, “… and these are all the ‘nobody saints.’” Actually, if you know the story of St. Conrad’s life of humble service, you know he probably would have appreciated that description!
Also, as I was in the Basilica I took this photo of the shrine of Our Lady of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Martyrs, remembering that I will be with the Vietnamese community in Boston for Mass this Sunday.
Until next week,
The Archdiocesan Justice Convocation
Earlier this week was the premier of the film “Spotlight”, which deals with The Boston Globe’s coverage of the clergy abuse crisis. I issued this statement about the film Wednesday night through our archdiocesan newspaper The Pilot, and I would also like to share it with you here:
The Spotlight film depicts a very painful time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States and particularly here in the Archdiocese of Boston. It is very understandable that this time of the film’s release can be especially painful for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.
The media’s investigative reporting on the abuse crisis instigated a call for the Church to take responsibility for its failings and to reform itself — to deal with what was shameful and hidden — and to make the commitment to put the protection of children first, ahead of all other interests.
We have asked for and continue to ask for forgiveness from all those harmed by the crimes of the abuse of minors. As Archbishop of Boston I have personally met with hundreds of survivors of clergy abuse over the last twelve years, hearing the accounts of their sufferings and humbly seeking their pardon. I have been deeply impacted by their histories and compelled to continue working toward healing and reconciliation while upholding the commitment to do all that is possible to prevent harm to any child in the future.
The Archdiocese of Boston is fully and completely committed to zero tolerance concerning the abuse of minors. We follow a vigorous policy of reporting and disclosing information concerning allegations of abuse. Any suspected case of abuse should be reported to civil authorities and to the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach (866-244-9603 or 617-746-5985).
More information about the protocols and programs run by the Archdiocese to assure safe environments for children and to address the needs of survivors may be found at www.bostoncatholic.org.
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Now, on to the events of my week…
Last Thursday I was very pleased to celebrate the Mass at St. John’s Seminary for the annual gathering of the Boston Area Order of Malta.
We were very pleased to see such a large turnout of Knights and Dames, as well as a large number of young people who are joining the auxiliary group. We are blessed to have such a strong presence of the Order of Malta in the Boston area. They do such important work locally, nationally and globally promoting the mission of the Church, particularly Catholic healthcare, humanitarian efforts and outreach to the poor.
Following the Mass, everyone gathered for dinner in the seminary refectory.
Before the meal, we heard remarks by a young man named Eric Donovan, who shared his story of travelling to Lourdes with the Order after suffering paralysis.
He said he received a miracle there, which may not be the kind you might expect — he received the gift of hope.
The evening’s keynote address was given Father James Martin, editor-at-large of America magazine, who is a very well-known author and speaker.
Father Martin gave a very fine talk on the theme of the humanity and divinity of Christ.
We are so grateful to Msgr. James Moroney and seminary for their gracious hospitality, and to area chairperson Damien DeVasto who did such an excellent job organizing this gathering.
With Father Martin and Damien DeVasto
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The following day I travelled to Pittsburgh because my Capuchin Province was having their annual celebration of jubilees, and they asked me to celebrate the Mass.
We had several Friars celebrating significant anniversaries but the one who was celebrating the most years of service was Father Angelus Shaughnessy. He was celebrating 60 years of ordination and 65 years of religious life. Father Angelus worked for some time with Mother Angelica and EWTN, and his television Masses were always very popular.
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Saturday, we held our annual Archdiocesan Justice Convocation, which each year focuses on a different aspect of the Church’s social teachings.
I was particularly pleased that the convocation this year focused on themes from the Holy Father’s encyclical Laudato Si’ — the protection of creation and care for immigrants.
The featured keynote speaker at this year’s gathering was Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, an organization that does such wonderful work all over the world helping those in need.
We are so grateful to the organizers of this event, particularly those coming out of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Their efforts helped ensure the event was sold out well in advance — certainly a great accomplishment, a great testimony to the commitment so many of our people have to the Social Gospel of the Church.
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On Sunday, I gathered with supporters of our Catholic Appeal for a Mass at St. Bridget’s in Lexington. The event was a chance to thank them for all their support of our Appeal, which is the lifeblood of the archdiocese.
After the Mass, we had a luncheon where I had a question and answer session with the people.
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Later, Isabel Gil, the Vice Rector of the Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon came for a visit.
She gave me the gift of the emblem of the University.
The university was founded in 1967 — the 50th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima — and there were a number of local people who were great supporters of the university, including Cardinal Medeiros and Joe Fernandes of the Fernandes Supermarket chain. For many years we had an annual fundraising event between Boston and Fall River to help support the university.
Now, as they are preparing to celebrate their own 50th anniversary in 2017, they are interested in reinvigorating ties with the Portuguese speaking community in the United States, and they came to speak to me a little about that.
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Then, in the evening, I went to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline to celebrate the Admission to Candidacy of Andrea Povero, one of our seminarians who will to be ordained this year.
From there, we went to the hospital to visit José Vazquez, the man who had worked for many years in the administration of the seminary. He was gravely ill and, sadly, passed away Wednesday.
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On Tuesday, we had a meeting here at the Pastoral Center of leaders of Hispanic ministries from the 11 dioceses of the Boston and Hartford Provinces. This meeting was part of the preparation leading up to the Fifth National Encuentro for Ministry Among Hispanics/Latinos (which is usually abbreviated to the more manageable form, “V Encuentro”).
I have had the privilege of attending each of the four previous Encuentros, the first being held in 1972 in Washington. Each of them has given new energy, impulse and direction to Hispanic ministry in the United States. This is particularly important at this stage of our development as a Church in the United States, where such a huge percentage of the Catholic population is Hispanic. With the many challenges that we have, this Encuentro will be particularly important. I was so happy to see the enthusiastic response of the attendees from so many different dioceses.
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Tuesday evening, I had one of our regular meetings with our recently ordained priests here at the Pastoral Center.
As always, we began our gathering with a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by dinner and discussion.
We conducted a survey among them talking about the joys and challenges of being a young priest and how they deal with those challenges. I was conducting the survey as part of the preparation for a presentation that I plan to give to the Congregation for the Clergy.
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Also that evening, I attended a reception at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Newton were they were presenting an award to Gerry Sheehan, and I was asked to say a few words.
Gerry Sheehan has been an extraordinary benefactor of our Catholic schools. In my remarks, I noted this is the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate and that we have a wonderful tradition of friendship between the Catholic and Jewish communities here in Boston, particularly since the time of Cardinal Cushing. I said that Gerry Sheehan represents this kind of bridge between our communities and so we were so happy they were honoring him.
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Finally, on Wednesday we held our semi-annual meetings of bishops of the Boston Province, which includes the dioceses of Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. We gather together to discuss different pastoral challenges and plans that we have moving forward. Among our agenda items was a report by Father Paco on the preparation for the Encuentro Nacional.
Until next week,
– Cardinal Seán
Ordaining our new permanent deacons
Hello and welcome!
Last Friday evening, I had one of my occasional gatherings with our seminarians. This time, I met with the group in their 4th year of theology, as well as those in their pastoral year.
As we usually do, we met for Vespers followed by dinner and a time of conversation at the Cathedral.
Among the topics we discussed was the Holy Father’s visit. Many of the seminarians had seen him at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. during the canonization of St. Junipero Serra.
It’s always a great pleasure to be able to be together with our seminarians and to hear about their activities and their experience of the seminary.
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Saturday morning, I had the joy of ordaining 12 men as permanent deacons at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross: Deacons Timothy Booker, Paul Carroll, Nicolas Cruz, Joseph Dorlus, James Kearney, Kelley McCormick, Jonathan Mosley, John Murray, Charles Rossignol, Jose Torres, Roger Vierra, and Thomas Walsh.
The ministry of the permanent deacon was one of the innovations of the Second Vatican Council to return to the practice of the Early Church. As many of you may know, I used to run the diaconal program for the Hispanic candidates when I was in Washington and I have always had a profound appreciation for the contribution of permanent deacons to the ministry of the Church.
With the renewed diaconate program in the archdiocese, we have a new ordination class every year, which is a great blessing for us. I am particularly happy that the ordination class this year included a deacon from the Haitian community as well as two deacons from the Hispanic community, reflecting the cultural diversity of our archdiocese.
We are very grateful to Monsignor Bill Fay, the new acting director of our Permanent Diaconate Office, who stepped in to replace Deacon Dan Burns who recently stepped down as director. We are also very grateful to Deacon Burns and all those who were part of the formation program for our permanent deacons and to the families in parishes that support these men during their period of formation and in their ministries throughout the archdiocese.
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Then, in the afternoon, I went to St. Mary’s in West Quincy for the celebration of the 175th anniversary of their parish. St. Mary’s is one of the older parishes in the archdiocese, and it is something of the mother parish for the South Shore.
We were joined by a number of people connected to the parish including Quincy Mayor Koch.
The parish has such a rich history. I understand it was built for the Irish workers who were working in the stone quarries around Quincy — this was of course before the Potato Famine and the huge influx of Irish immigrants.
The original church was built for $4,000 in 1840. (They are restoring the current church’s belltower right now, so I told them they should try to get that contractor again!) I also discovered in history of the diocese that former President John Quincy Adams was present at the dedication of the original church.
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Sunday morning, I went to St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury for a Mass to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of their patron saint. (Theirs is the only parish in the archdiocese named in honor of St. Theresa.)
I was joined for the celebration by Bishop Arthur Kennedy and Bishop Emilio Allue.
In my homily I reminded the people that my titular church in Rome is the Carmelite church with the famous statue of St. Theresa in Ecstasy.
I also spoke a little about the life of St. Theresa. As a doctor of the Church, her writings have been very important in developing the spiritual life of many people. Her theology is a theology that was lived and as I said, saints don’t just know about God they know God. St. Theresa has helped many people discover that path of interiority and prayer that helps them to know God.
One of the prayers that has helped people do that for many, many years is known as St. Theresa’s Bookmark, which goes like this:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
It is a very beautiful prayer that can be very consoling.
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Then, Sunday afternoon we had the blessing of five new bells that will hang in the Cathedral the Holy Cross. The bells are coming to the Cathedral from Holy Trinity Church, which was the German parish in Boston.
The blessing took place in the context of a Evening Prayer. So, after the Psalms and the reading, we made a procession outside to where the bells sat.
There is a tradition in the Church of naming important bells, and so as we blessed them we gave each of the bells a name. The largest of the bells was given the name of St. Gabriel, because one of the prayers most associated with the ringing of church bells is the praying of the Angelus each day at noon. Another was named for St. Therese of Lisieux, the patroness of the missions, because these bells have a mission to reach out to the neighborhood and call people to the Eucharist. Another was named for St. Boniface, the patron saint of Germany, because the original home of the bells was Holy Trinity Church, which was the traditional parish of German Catholics in Boston. The fourth was named for St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Universal Church. And the last was named for St. Helena who discovered the relics of the Holy Cross because, of course, the bells will hang in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
We have had an electric carillon installed for a few years but these will be the first real bells installed in the cathedral.
We are so grateful to all those who supported this effort to bring these bells to our Cathedral.
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On Monday we had our first meeting after the summer of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. All four bishops of Massachusetts were there. We received updates on different pieces of legislation with a social dimension as well as report on issues related to Catholic schools.
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Tuesday, we had our annual Peter Lynch Scholars induction Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton.
This is the sixth year they have awarded the scholarship. Each Catholic elementary school selects their Lynch scholars based on their academic success and their involvement in the community and other activities. This year, they presented over 180 scholarships.
We offered the Mass for Carolyn Lynch and for her family. Throughout her life, Carolyn made an invaluable contribution making Catholic education available to so many. She will be sorely missed and we look forward to celebrating a Memorial Mass with her family and friends in the very near future.
At the end of the Mass, our Superintendent of Schools Kathy Mears and the director of the Catholic Schools Foundation Mike Reardon addressed the young people.
Our Lady Help of Christians is quite a large church and it was almost full, which is just an indication of how much has been accomplished by the Catholic Schools Foundation and the Inner City Scholarship Fund.
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Tuesday afternoon, as sort of a preface for the Year of Mercy, we held a special convocation for our priests at St. Julia’s in Weston. Father Bryan Hehir gave a wonderful presentation on the Holy Father’s visit to the United States. Also, among other things, we discussed the upcoming Year of Mercy, the new regulations on annulments, and we also had a report on child protection in the archdiocese.
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Wednesday at noon I celebrated a Memorial Mass for Tom and Mary Shields here at the Pastoral Center. They were, of course, great supporters of Catholic education and close friends of the archdiocese, so I was happy to celebrate a mass for their family.
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Then, in the afternoon I was visited by the Betania Choir.
The choir is mainly composed of the children and grandchildren and in-laws of Maria Esperanza, the visionary from Betania, Venezuela whose cause for canonization has been introduced.
Father Richard Clancy accompanied them along with Rose Patek. Rose has made an important contribution to the spiritual life of people in our archdiocese through the center and to the activities that she has supported.
They performed a few numbers for us which were very beautiful and touching.
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Wednesday night was the annual Cathedral High School Adopt-a-Student Foundation banquet at the Seaport Hotel.
During the evening they honored the men who established the Adopt-a-Student Foundation: Jim Curvey, John Drew, and John Remondi. They founded the organization 25 years ago, and I think we can safely say that without their efforts the school probably would not exist today.
But, not only is it still open, it is thriving – with modern renovations such as the new gym, new labs and a new roof.
For me, this picture from the program really tells the story of what is happening at Cathedral High.
It says: “For the last 12 years, 100% of CHS [Cathedral High School] seniors have graduated and were accepted into college.” Not only that, but something like 85% of Cathedral High graduates go on to graduate from a four year college. The achievement is just remarkable.
Until next week,