The Iraq crisis
This week we were praying for the spiritual success of the Holy Father’s visit to Korea, which was his first trip to Asia.
It was a very joyous and successful trip, unfortunately the Holy Father’s joy was quickly tempered by the death of three of his family members. His nephew, a young argentine physician, coming home from vacation was involved in a serious automobile accident that has put him in critical condition in the hospital and caused the death of his wife and two young children. I know that people throughout the world are praying for the Holy Father and for his family at this time.
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Another very tragic event this week was the murder of a young journalist from New Hampshire, Jim Foley.
He is from a Catholic family that’s very involved in the life of the Church in their parish. There was a very active prayer group praying for his safety in his last months. There are many beautiful accounts of Jim Foley’s devotion to the Rosary, that being a source of strength for him in his captivity. The death of Jim Foley just underscores the violence that so many people are suffering in the Middle East.
Friday, at the Mass for young Catholic adults on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady at St. Leonard’s in the North End, we prayed in a very special way for the Church in Iraq, where so many are fleeing ISIS.
Youth entering St. Leonard’s before the Mass
The very ones that killed Jim Foley are also killing religious minorities there, enslaving the women, and have marked the houses of Christians — giving them just hours to decide whether they would convert to Islam or abandon their homes. So, Christians have been leaving in droves from the traditionally Christian parts of Iraq where there have been Catholics since the beginning of Christianity. Now they are being displaced because of this fanatical persecution of the Church by ISIS and people who share their worldview. The Archdiocese will be taking up a collection to help the Christian refugees there, and we urge everyone to continue praying for peaceful solutions in that part of the world. At the Mass at St. Leonard’s, Mother Olga spoke about the situation in Iraq.
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The next day, I met with a group of leaders from our local Iraqi Catholic community.
The priest, Father Bassim Shoni, Chaplain to the Iraqi Community of Boston, was there with them.
It’s very, very disturbing. All of them have families who have been displaced and who have lost their homes and all of their possessions. Their lives have been in danger.
Later that day, they had a special Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes parish in Newton to pray and offer support for Iraqi Christians. Father Michael Harrington, director of our Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity, presided at that Mass
At the end of the Mass they processed outside to offer their intentions before the Virgin Mary.
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On Sunday I went to Brockton to visit the Sisters of Jesus Crucified, a Lithuanian order of sisters that has been in the Archdiocese for many years and has run schools and a nursing home. They were having their chapter, and I always preside over the installation of their provincial superiors.
So, we had the installation of the three sisters — the major superior and the two councilors. It’s a very small community. There are very few sisters left in the world. That’s the only convent they have. Some of these communities that were founded for ethnic groups never opened beyond that ethnic group and so when the language within that group was gone the vocations kind of dried up.
Part of their ministry of hospitality has been taking people in and they have Dominican sisters from Vietnam with them who are learning English.
All of the themes in their chapel represent the passion and the crucifixion.
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Every year we have a meeting and retreat for the bishops of the New England Region at Saint Edmund’s on Enders Island. That’s the Hartford and the Boston provinces.
This time we had a number of new bishops in attendance. Of course, Bishop Deeley is the new Bishop of Portland, Maine. He was there, and also Bishop Rozanski who was just installed in Springfield, as well as the new Archbishop of Hartford Leonard Blair and the new and future Bishop of Fall River, Bishop da Cunha.
Msgr. James Moroney preached the retreat. There were almost 20 bishops there. It’s always a very wonderful week. We were blessed with great weather, and the retreat house staff takes such good care of the grounds.
They also have a number of ministries promoting the arts. I took some pictures of the stained glass windows in the sacristy — all on a resurrection theme.
They also do a lot of work with people suffering from addictions. They have a recovery residence, The Saint Maximilian Kolbe Sober Living Community. They told me that Saint Maximilian Kolbe has become known as the patron saint of addicts, which I did not know.
They have this beautiful brochure about their ministry with great photos and more information.
Until my next post.
The installation of Bishop Rozanski
Hello and welcome,
Each year around the Feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, we hold a lecture, Vespers service and cookout for our priests at St. John’s Seminary.
This year, Father John Sassani gave the lecture on prayer. It was a very helpful and practical conference that was much appreciated by the priests.
After the Vespers service in the Chapel at St. John’s, we had a lovely cookout outside on the lawn. It was very well attended. I think we had about 100 men with us.
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Tuesday, I had the joy of attending the installation of the new Bishop of Springfield, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski. The nuncio was in attendance as well as a number of bishops, particularly from the Northeast.
Bishop Rozanski was formerly the auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore so also in attendance was Archbishop Lori and the former archbishop, Cardinal O’Brien.
His parents and family were also in attendance.
The people were very pleased to welcome their new Bishop. He gave a lovely homily and he spoke a bit in Spanish and also in Polish, which was well received because they have a significant Polish community in the Springfield Diocese.
The occasion was also an opportunity for us to express our thanks to Bishop Timothy McDonald, who has served as Bishop of Springfield for 10 years.
During my time in Springfield I also had a chance to visit with Bishop Joe Maguire, who lives very near the Cathedral. He is originally from Brighton, was ordained for Boston and was a Boston auxiliary before being named coadjutor bishop in Springfield in 1976.
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Among the vocations in the Church, particularly one that was restored after the Vatican Council II, is the vocation of the consecrated virgin.
We were very happy to have the consecrated virgins from the archdiocese join me at the noon Mass here at the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center, and afterwards for lunch.
We were joined by Sister Marian Batho, who is our Delegate for Religious and Consecrated Life and is the one who coordinates their activities here in the archdiocese. During lunch, they had a chance to update me on their latest activities.
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We are very pleased that Pilot reporter Christopher Pineo has received the Archbishop O’Meara Award from the Pontifical Mission Societies. The Pontifical Mission Societies (the most well-known of which is the Society for the Propagation of the Faith) gives the award each year to recognize excellent coverage related to the missions in the Catholic press. Chris won the award for his story about youngsters from Plymouth running a lemonade stand to raise money for the Missionary Childhood Association.
Father Rodney Copp and Maureen Heil of our local Pontifical Mission Societies office were present for the official presentation of the award in my office Wednesday afternoon.
The Pilot has always been a very important instrument for raising mission awareness so, it seemed very fitting that there should be a recognition of the good work that is being done there to help people grow in their knowledge and commitment to the Church’s mission “ad gentes,” to the peoples.
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In the afternoon, we met with the auditors who come each year to the archdiocese to examine how well we are in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
This is a very important service of the local church to help us make sure that we are fulfilling all our commitments to screening, education and the other requirements that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has implemented to guarantee best practices in the area of child protection.
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That evening, I went to Dedham to join the Society of African Missions house in Dedham for their annual Mass and social. The provincial was the celebrant, but I addressed them at the end of the Mass.
The SMA fathers have been in the diocese for about 50 years. Previously they had a seminary here but now they have a mission house. They always send a group of about a dozen priests for the summer who help out at different parishes. It is a wonderful assistance for the archdiocese because very often our own priests are looking for a replacement so they can take a little time off during the summer.
The SMA Fathers were there, as well as a number of pastors and some of the parishioners of the parishes where they have been helping out during the summer.
They presented me with this beautiful reliquary
At the Mass they sang in French and English and some members of our local African communities sang in some of their native languages. The meal following the Mass featured a number of different African foods.
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Thursday, Congressman Stephen Lynch came to see me. He recently made a visit to the Texas-Mexico border as well as to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
He was there on a fact-finding mission for the Congress regarding the situation of the unaccompanied minors who are attempting to come to the United States. He has also been on several missions to Afghanistan and Iraq and wanted to discuss some of these issues with me.
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We have many priests visiting Boston from different parts the world during the summertime. So, this week we were happy to welcome a professor and the spiritual director of the seminary in Turin, Italy to the Cathedral for a couple of days. They stayed at St. James Church but we invited them to eat with us at the Cathedral.
I told them that we had Capuchins from Torino province working for many years in the archdiocese, at St. Patrick’s in Roxbury.
It was very interesting because one of the priests from their diocese was the rector of the seminary in Verapaz, Guatemala when I made my visitation there. It was a seminary for indigenous peoples and he was an Italian Fidei Donum priest working there. I could not recall his name but I remembered him very well. So, it was surprising for me when these priests said he wanted to be remembered to me. It just goes to show, it really is a small world.
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Thursday afternoon, I was visited by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the newly named Chief of the American Interests Section, which is what we call our quasi-embassy in Cuba since we do not have formal diplomatic relations with the Cuban government. They have their representatives in Washington and we have ours in Havana, but they are not a full Embassy though Ambassador DeLaurentis has full ambassadorial rank.
He has had a very interesting diplomatic career. He has been most recently involved in the United Nations, but in the past he has worked in the mission in Cuba. So, he is returning to a country where he spent time before.
This is a very important moment in American diplomacy, particularly around the issue of Alan Gross’s captivity and the desire to normalize the relationship between our countries and bring an end to the embargo.
It was an interesting opportunity to hear some of the ambassador’s ideas and share some of my own recent experiences in Cuba. He also told me he is very aware of the important work that is being done here in Boston to support Caritas Cubana, particularly through the efforts of Consuelo Isaacson and Micho Spring. Their work with Friends of Caritas Cubana is vital in supporting the Church’s programs helping the elderly and children and through food and medical aid programs.
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Finally, in light of the terrible recent events in Iraq, the Church throughout the world and locally have asked Catholics to offer their prayers.
Tonight, I will be celebrating a Mass with young adults at St. Leonard’s in the North End on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and I will be offering the Mass for the people of Iraq. After the Mass, Mother Olga, who is from Iraq, will address the young adults. Tomorrow, there will also be a special Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton at 5:30pm, at which we will join the Iraqi Community of Boston in praying for peace and an end to the persecution of Christians.
We have also asked all our parishes this weekend to remember the people of Iraq in their prayers of the faithful. It is important that we pray for them during this time when so much of the Christian population has been completely displaced and so many people have lost their homes, their families, and even their lives.
Until next week,
Attending the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention
Hello and welcome!
Last week I traveled to Cuba, and to reach Cuba I had to go through Miami. So, I took the occasion to visit some friends and relatives there.
I celebrated Mass at the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral where Father Chris Marino is the rector. He very graciously received us there.
With me were three Friars of my province: Brother Carlos, Brother Saul and Brother Diogo.
In the cathedral they have a side altar depicting the marriage of Mary and Joseph in the presence of Zechariah, which is a very unusual theme for a church, so I thought I would share it with you.
I was also able to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick for a dear friend of mine who is going to have surgery soon. Even my flight was a chance for me to visit an old friend who is now running the Miami airport, Emilio Gonzales.
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From Miami I traveled to Cuba to be part of the celebration in honor of Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who is celebrating 50 years of priestly ordination. He has been the Archbishop of Havana for over 30 years.
The local church there planned the celebration and, in solidarity with the Church in Cuba, a number of us from the United States went to be present including Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Archbishop Roberto Gonzales and Cardinal McCarrick.
Mario Paredes from the American Bible Society, which recently sponsored a biblical exhibition in the Cathedral of Havana, was also with us.
In Havana I stayed at the nunciature. It is where I stayed in 2002 when I was making the visitation to the seminary. I remember that on my first day at the nunciature there was a lot of excitement because a huge crowd of young people stormed the Mexican Embassy, which was right next door, seeking political asylum. They climbed up on the roof, commandeered a bus and broke down the gate to get into the embassy. Their asylum didn’t last long because the army arrived in the middle of the night and arrested them all.
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On Friday there was a cultural event in honor of the Cardinal.
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The next day, August 2, the actual anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, was the Mass of thanksgiving in the Cathedral of Havana.
There was a wonderful orchestra and choir, which sang a beautiful Mozart Mass and ended with the Halleluiah Chorus. It was very impressive — but being August 2 in Havana, it was also very warm!
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Saturday was also the Feast of the Portiuncula, a very important day for Franciscans. I had an opportunity to be with one of the Capuchins from my province who is working in Cuba, Father Emilio Biosca, whom I ordained many years ago. After working for 10 years in Papua New Guinea, he has now been in Cuba for seven or eight years and is the pastor in Manzanillo, a town near Santiago de Cuba.
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The following day, I had Mass in the Capuchin church in Havana, Jesus de Miramar.
On the way back from the church we passed the Church of St. Rita were there was a demonstration by the Damas en Blanca, who are the wives of political prisoners.
Having travelled to Cuba over many years, it is interesting to see how much the situation has changed. For example, one of the amazing things for me was to see how many people are traveling every day to Cuba.
While there has been a great deal of improvement, of course there are still tensions. Certainly tensions between the United States and Cuba are exacerbated by the imprisonment of Alan Gross. We are hoping this situation can be resolved, not only for humanitarian reasons — his mother recently died while he has been in prison and he has had health problems — but it is also a great obstacle to the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. The Cuban government is demanding the release of three Cuban prisoners who have been held in the United States for spying, and the United States is demanding the release of Mr. Gross.
I have also seen a marked improvement in the Church’s situation, just in the way it has more space to move. In many ways, it has been Cardinal Ortega who has been able to expand what the Church is able to do ministerially in Cuba.
When I first travelled to Cuba in the early 80s, the activities of the Church were very severely curtailed. If someone under 70 years of age went to Mass they would be threatened, but now you see families going to church and they have been able to build a new seminary.
The Church also engages in charitable works in the parishes, particularly taking care of the elderly. There are many elderly people whose families have left Cuba and they are on their own. So the Church, especially through Caritas Cubana, has expanded her outreach to the needy.
Pope John Paul II planted this palm tree as a sapling at the nunciature during his visit in 1998 and now it is a huge tree. To me it is very symbolic, because the turning point in the history of the Church in Cuba was, in many ways, the visit of Pope St. John Paul II.
This plaque sits next to the palm. For those who don’t speak Spanish, it says:
Bless Lord, this Royal Palm tree, symbol of Cuban identity, so that faithful to the Christian roots of this culture, it may grow in the sovereignty and dignity of the human person and the freedom of the nation
John Paul II, January 25, 1998
I remember when I visited the seminary a couple years after his visit. There were about 60 men studying theology and 20 philosophy. Ninety percent of them were converts and they attributed their conversion to the visit of Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II’s televised Mass in the Plaza de la Revolucion was the first time that most of the population of Cuba was seeing a Catholic Mass. So, we have always tried to be in solidarity with the Church in Cuba and I was happy to be at this very significant celebration of the leader of the Church there.
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From there, I went to Orlando for the Knights of Columbus’ 132nd Supreme Convention.
At the banquet we were addressed by actor Gary Sinise, who spoke about his wife’s and his conversion to Catholicism.
He also spoke about the mission he has taken on to help service members who have suffered severe injuries or amputations and helping them to be able to cope with their disabilities through providing what are called “smart houses.” The Knights of Columbus are cooperating with his foundation to help wounded veterans.
We were also addressed by Bishop John Noonan, who is the Bishop of Orlando and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, who is the Archbishop of Cotabato in the Philippines and Cardinal Rivera Carrera the Archbishop of Mexico City and the keynote address was given by Archbishop Lacroix of Québec.
The States Dinner is always a very impressive occasion to see the national — and increasingly international — scope of the Knights of Columbus.
For example, in the Philippines there are now 360,000 Knights of Columbus. Worldwide, there are over 1,800,000 Knights and at the Supreme Convention there were representatives from Poland and Lithuania. The international nature of the Knights is expanding, now extending to development of councils in South Korea, even as their membership in North America continues to grow.
I served as the homilist for the Mass celebrated on the Feast of the Transfiguration, and I’d like to share my homily with you here:
I was very happy to see our contingent from Massachusetts at the convention, including Bishop Peter Uglietto, Bishop Bob Hennessey, Father Bob Kickham, Father Chuck Connolly and Father Dick Mehm.
Of course, Father Bob Reed of the CatholicTV Network were also there covering this very important event.
Archbishop Kurtz with Kevin Nelson and Father Reed
Gary Sinise with the folks from CatholicTV
While I was Supreme Convention I had an interview with CatholicTV, which I’d like to share with you:
Until next week,
‘Haciendo Lio’ at St. Mary’s in Waltham
Hello and welcome,
In spite of a unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the Massachusetts law enforcing a 35 foot “buffer zone” around abortion clinics, the Massachusetts legislature acted with unseemly haste to establish what amounts to a new buffer zone of 25 feet.
After both branches of the legislature sent the bill to the Governor who signed it into law, the effect again is to make it very difficult for citizens seeking to offer alternatives to women contemplating an abortion.
The civil law must balance the rights and duties of all individuals and we must be vigilant to ensure the safety of all people, regardless of their position on this most serious issue.
I recognize the struggle for all involved, but I believe preventing any reasonable possibility for dialogue is a misguided use of civil law. The Supreme Court seldom is unanimous in our day; the fact that it was on this question gives me hope that the judiciary will once again correct what I regard as an unjust limitation on free speech in Massachusetts about a fundamental moral and human issue.
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Last Saturday, I was happy to celebrate a Mass to Mark the 25th anniversary of the Nigerian Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Boston.
We were particularly pleased that the Prefect Emeritus of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship Cardinal Francis Arinze, who is from Nigeria and traveled to Boston just to be present for this celebration. He stayed with us at the Cathedral rectory while he was here for the weekend.
As I told the people at the Mass, when I heard Cardinal Arinze was coming, I thought that I would be able to just relax and enjoy the celebration. But when he arrived he told me that he would be speaking to the people later that weekend and so I should give the homily. Of course, I was very happy to do it and I’d like to share it with you here:
The Mass was a very spirited celebration of the faith of the Nigerian community.
The choir really provided great energy to the celebration.
There was also a group of youngsters who did a sort of dance during the presentation of the gifts.
It was wonderful to see people of all ages, and multiple generations of families gathered to give thanks to God for the gift of their faith and for their growth in our local community.
In addition to Cardinal Arinze, we were pleased also to be joined by Father Alfonsus Gusiora who is the founding priest of the community and came back for the Mass, and Father Gerry Osterman, who is the administrator of St. Katharine Drexel and the one who first welcomed the community 25 years ago. Both of them received a wonderful round of applause from the people.
We are so grateful to Father Jude Osunkwo, the chaplain of the Nigerian Catholic community, who does so much to provide pastoral care to this important group in our archdiocese.
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On Sunday, I traveled to St. Mary’s Parish in Waltham to celebrate the closing Mass of their Haciendo Lio gathering, organized by the AGAPE youth group there.
“Haciendo Lio” is Spanish for “making noise” or “making a ruckus” and the gathering took its name from the words of the Holy Father at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro when he told the young people: “I would like us to make noise, I would like those inside the dioceses to go out into the open; I want the Church to be in the streets.”
The gathering brought together the Hispanic communities of a number of parishes including St. Mary’s, St. Stephen’s in Framingham, St. Benedict’s in Somerville, Most Holy Redeemer in East Boston, St. Rose of Lima in Chelsea, Immaculate Conception in Everett and St. Columbkille in Brighton and the events went on for three days.
In keeping with the idea of going out “in the streets,” all the activities took place outside and they erected a huge tent on the parish grounds. They had prayer services, food, music and all manner of activities throughout the weekend.
It started on Friday night with a vigil and then on Saturday there was a soccer tournament amongst the various parishes. (I understand that St. Stephen’s in Framingham won first place, but at least the home team of St. Mary’s came in second.)
On Sunday, the people gathered on the lawn outside St. Mary’s to “make noise” with singing and dancing.
We celebrated the closing Mass in the tent on the lawn.
With us at the Mass were the pastor of St. Mary’s, Father Michael Nolan, Father Michael Harrington, Father Dan Hennessey, Father Carlos Suarez, Father Augustin Gomez and Father Gabino Macias.
We are grateful to Father Nolan, the pastor of St. Mary’s, and all those who worked to organize this important event.
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After the Mass, we returned to the Cathedral where we were joined for a late dinner by Jim Towey, the president of Ave Maria University in Florida. Jim was in town for meetings with Boston-area supporters of the university.
I am very grateful to Jim for his dedication to strengthening of Ave Maria, which was established through the generosity of Tom Monahan and for ensuring that the college maintains the highest standards of both academics and Catholic identity.
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On Monday, I traveled to Charleston South Carolina for the USCCB’s 2014 People of Life Mass and Awards Dinner, which is part of the National Meeting of Diocesan Pro-Life Directors.
We were very happy that our own pro-life director from the Archdiocese of Boston, Marianne Luthin, was able to be there for the event.
We began the evening with a Mass celebrated at the Diocese of Charleston’s very beautiful and historic Cathedral of St. John’s, followed by the dinner.
As we do each year, we presented three People of Life Awards during the evening. The awards are presented to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to the promotion of the culture of life.
This year, the Little Sisters of the Poor were recognized for their willingness to stand up and not compromise their religious beliefs in the face of the HHS mandate. Since the sisters, whose charism is to help the elderly poor, hire and serve people of all faiths they were not considered a religious organization and would have had to provide sterilization and abortifacient drugs under their health plan. The sisters filed a lawsuit to stand up for their rights to live according to their faith. The provincial, Mother Loraine Maguire, received the award on behalf of the Sisters.
Sheila Snow Hopkins received the award for her long term service as the director for social concerns and respect life for the Florida conference of Catholic Bishops.
And George Wesolek received the award posthumously for his social justice work as director of public policy and social concerns in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. His wife, Gail, and one of his daughters accepted the award on his behalf.
We are very grateful to Bishop Guglielmone for his wonderful hospitality while we were there. We are also very grateful to Tom Grenchick, Kimberly Baker, Deirdre McQuaid and all of the staff of USCCB Office for Pro-Life Activities for all they did organizing this event and making it such a success.
With the staff of the office
Until next week,
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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,