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13
Jul

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

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Hello and welcome!

Regular readers will remember that, as I concluded my last post, I was in Rome for a meeting of the Council of Cardinals, and it was the eve of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patronal feast of the city.

Before I move on to the events of this week, I want to share with you some of the things that took place in Rome around that feast. It is very a very grand celebration, which also happens to coincide with my birthday. (So, I always tell people the fireworks in Rome are in honor of my birthday — but nobody believes me!)

For the feast, there is a wonderful tradition in Rome of decorating the streets in front of St. Peter’s Basilica with images made of flowers and colored sawdust.IMG_0702IMG_0704IMG_0705IMG_0706IMG_0707IMG_0708IMG_0712

I also want to share with you this photo of the statue of St. Peter, which has been venerated for many centuries, but on the Feast of St. Peter is dressed in papal vestments. I always find it very impressive.IMG_0691


Another wonderful tradition for the feast of St. Peter is that the new archbishops that have been named during the course of the year gather in Rome to receive the pallium from the Holy Father. POPE-PALLIUM

The pallium is a white band with black crosses worn around the shoulders and is the symbol of an archbishop. It represents the lamb that the Good Shepherd carries on his shoulders, and the black part of the bottom is the hoof of the lamb. Pallium-GTracy-IMG_0099

Here you see my pallium on the left

It is created from the wool of lambs raised by Trappist monks and is placed near the tomb of St. Peter before it is presented to the archbishop by the Holy Father. POPE-PALLIUM

There were about 30 archbishops from around the world who received the pallium this year. A couple of them were Capuchin confrères whom I knew and there were two from the United States — Archbishop Byrnes from Guam and Archbishop Wilton Gregory from Washington, D.C. POPE-PALLIUM

So, the American Embassy to the Holy See had a lovely reception for the Americans in Rome in honor of the new archbishops.

It was held at the Ambassador’s residence, known as the Villa Richardson.IMG_0690IMG_0688

unnamed1With Ambassador Calista Gingrich and her husband, Newt


With us for the Pallium Mass was Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos, who was heading the delegation representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Archbishop Job is the Patriarchate’s representative to the World Council of Churches at Geneva and is a good friend of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.IMG_0694

It has been the tradition, for many years now, that the Ecumenical Patriarch sends representatives for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and the Holy Father does the same for the Feast of St. Andrew, the patronal feast of Constantinople, in November.

Mirroring this tradition, here in Boston we also exchange delegations between the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston and the archdiocese on the feasts of St. Peter and St. Andrew. So, that same day in Boston, we were very happy to welcome Father Demetrios Tonias, the dean of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral for the Mass at the Pastoral Center celebrated by Bishop Arthur Kennedy.StPeter-Orthodox-04StPeter-Orthodox-05StPeter-Orthodox-09StPeter-Orthodox-19


As I mentioned, the feast coincides with my birthday. So, that afternoon, I had lunch with the Capuchin community in Rome, where there were four of us who were celebrating either birthdays or name days.IMG_0696

I also had a meeting with the Holy Father at which I presented him my letter of resignation, which is the custom for residential bishops when they reach the age of 75. The Holy Father did not accept it but instead asked me to stay on for a few more years in Boston. As long as my health is good, I am very happy to serve in any way that I can.

Then, that evening, I had dinner with the Boston priests who are in Rome.IMG_0700


I returned from Rome a few days before Independence Day, and I spent some time away around the holiday.

Then, last Sunday, I went to St. Benedict’s in Somerville, to celebrate a Mass as part of the parish’s weeklong celebration of their patronal feast. IMG_0729

They also had another cake for me in honor of my birthday. (I think that was the end of the novena of cakes I seem to have been celebrating!)IMG_0730IMG_0731

It was good to be back at St. Benedict’s again and see that Father Alejandro Lopez-Cardinale is doing such a great job as administrator.


Then on Tuesday, I was visited by Archbishop Anthony Obinna of the Archdiocese of Owerri, Nigeria, who was accompanied by three of his priests who are here in Boston. IMG_0735-2

He was in town to celebrate Mass for the Nigerian community at St. Katharine Drexel Parish and wanted to greet me. So, I was very happy to be able to receive him.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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05
Jul

Reflections of a newly ordained priest: Father Joseph Almeida

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Hello and welcome!

I hope you all had an enjoyable and safe Independence Day holiday!

As I always like to do this time of year, I have asked a couple of our newly ordained priests to share their stories with you. I think it is an important opportunity for all of us to get to know them a little better and, hopefully, be inspired by their vocation stories.

This week, we will be hearing from Father Joseph Almeida and, later in the month, Father Brian O’Hanlon will share his reflection with you.

– Cardinal Seán


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Hello Friends,

My name is Father Joe. In 1983, I was born into a Catholic family, the fifth of eight children and we lived in Somers, Connecticut until I was 6 years old when we moved to the little town of Heath in the countryside of Western Massachusetts.

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Our faith was a very important part of our home. Every Sunday, we would put on our best clothes and head out to church as a family. After Mass, we would return home and have Sunday brunch together. Then, in the afternoon and evening, we would often play board or card games, which I have always enjoyed. Needless to say, we looked forward to Sunday throughout the week.

During and after brunch, we would talk around the table. Often in our talks, a papal announcement or some other Church related news would come up, and we would read and discuss it along with any other news one of us wanted to share. Even when I was young, I was always welcomed in the discussions, although I mostly listened. As early as this, the Lord was giving me a longing for his truth and to have a relationship with him.

Many of these talks were on topics brought forth by Pope John Paul II, and it was from then on that I could see in him a great example of Christ. In John Paul II, by his asking and encouraging for vocations, I saw the importance of the priesthood and, in a sense, the search for my own vocation was fed by his example. In these years of my early life I began a deep relationship with Christ and started serving as an altar boy at Mass.

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While I had a beautiful childhood, my relationship with my mom was very difficult. She would call me her “Slow Joe” and I took it badly. Also, I had many problems growing up; we had bad well water, and I would drink it and get very sick. My mom would have to take me often to the hospital, where they did numerous tests to try to see what was wrong. During this time, I often felt like I was a burden for my family.

When I was 10 years old, my mother, oldest brother Adam, and youngest siblings Mark and Christie were driving home when a tractor-trailer truck collided with another car, which in turn hit my mother’s vehicle. Both my mother and brother Adam, who were seated in the front, were in critical condition, while my younger siblings had only minor cuts and bruises. The doctors saved the life of my brother Adam with some major operations, but my mother had a blood clot after an operation that went to her heart leaving the doctors powerless to save her, and she died.

Having to face the reality of death was very difficult. I thank God that he gave me a large loving Catholic family and, in the light of this tragedy, we all drew closer together and relied heavily on the providence of God.

My father left his work and became a “domestic engineer,” raising us kids with great faith. His willingness to take care of us and his continual trust in God and the Church will always be a powerful example for me of a Christian man. He gave himself completely for us in order that we could have full lives.

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After high school, I began to feel that something important was missing in my life. I was going to college and, humanly speaking, had everything — friends, family, education, work, a car, money, etc. — but I felt a calling to something more. I started bouncing around from devotion to devotion, looking for something more, and I began to really question if I was called to the priesthood.

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In these young adult years, I found that I was most happy when I did some form of service for another person — whether by tutoring someone in their studies, helping someone move, or performing work for someone not able to do it themselves. In serving someone else, there was a joy for me that transcended the difficulties of the task and transformed my experience of it.

At times, I would go to the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge for a sort of Sunday retreat. There I would pray, go to confession, Mass, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Often I was with my family or, later, I would bring my nephews and nieces. Returning home afterwards, I would celebrate by taking them out for a beautiful dinner and be filled with joy for the mercy and love of God.

One of the times I went, I confessed with Bishop Emeritus Thomas Elliot of the Virgin Islands. I told him I was questioning if I had a vocation to the priesthood and he canceled all his appointments for that afternoon and told me his life story, then I told him mine. At a certain point, I mentioned that my brother John had begun the Neocatechumenal Way in New Jersey and that I was thinking of becoming part of it, as well. My brother had shared with me his experience of the Neocatechumenal Way, of meeting in a small community; living the Catholic faith in the Liturgy of the Word midweek, the celebration of the Eucharist on Saturday night, and in gathering one Sunday a month for prayer and fellowship with the community.

When I said this, Bishop Thomas stopped me and told me that he is not part of the Neocatechumenate but that he had been to some of their events and was impressed with their spirit. He told me that the Neocatechumenal Way would help me in my discernment. Encouraged by that, I moved out to Boston in 2005 to become part of a Neocatechumenal community.image015

Through the Neocatechumenal Way, I began to see the events that I experienced in my life, especially the death of my mom, in a different way. I started to see more and more how God had been present with me through all the sufferings and difficulties. I saw how he had used these to form a relationship with me and to call me to enter into his plan for my life. Within this context, I was invited to an international meeting of men considering the priesthood, and I was sent to the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Boston. image017

In the seminary, I found a great sense of fraternity with the other seminarians and was touched by the spirit of mission within the house. We would help each other and be constantly involved in the evangelization in Boston. My time in the seminary established in me the rhythm of prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours and formed the discipline to pray in times of peace, joy, and fecundity, as well as in times of difficulty and dryness. It was a beautiful time full of graces, in which I experienced the faithfulness and mercy of God deeply.

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image023Now as a priest, I have found great Joy in doing priestly things and serving the people of God. My first assignment is to serve as parochial vicar in the Sacred Hearts Collaborative in Bradford and Groveland. Having been a month in ministry here, I already have seen God working powerfully in the lives of the people and am in awe of how He can use me to carry out His work. image025

image027Being outside of the city and more in the countryside, Sacred Hearts Parish reminds me of where I grew up in Western Mass., which is a blessing for me and helps me to feel right at home. Little by little, I am coming to know the people of Sacred Hearts Parish and visiting the sick and ministering to those in need has given me the opportunity to share a little of the love and comfort I have received from the Lord in my life.

I am just beginning, but already I am finding joy in my ministry here. Please pray for me that God may continue to bless me and give me the grace to live faithfully the call I have received to follow Him.

Yours in Christ,

Father Joseph

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29
Jun

The Feast of Corpus Christi

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Hello and welcome!

Last Saturday, I attended the 60th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Father Patrick, a Capuchin at the friary in Jamaica Plain.IMG_0663

It was a wonderful occasion to gather with his family, friends and our friars to celebrate his jubilee. I reminded him that this year Father Raniero Cantalamessa is also celebrating 60 years as a priest — so he is in good company!


That afternoon, we had a Mass at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline for the institution of new lectors and acolytes. These are sacramentals that our seminarians receive in preparation for priesthood.

These important moments for the Church impress upon the young man the need for his spiritual preparation and discernment in his vocation. The lector is instituted to proclaim readings from Scripture, and the ministry of acolyte allows a man to have the prerogatives of what we used to call the subdiaconate. He can now be an ordinary minister of Communion, distributing Communion at Mass and taking Communion to the sick.IMG_3060IMG_3072

The new lectors were Francis Trewin and Diego Alejandro Peña and the new acolytes were Jose Ignacio Montero, Diego Valdez, Gabriel Hanley, Giovanni Argote, Paolo Strudthoff and Mateus Martin.IMG_3108

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It was a very joyful celebration and, of course, afterwards there was a lovely meal.

During the evening, the seminarians entertained us with a number of Mexican songs that they prepared for the visit of Eduardo Verástegui at the Redemptoris Mater Gala last week. IMG_3212IMG_3218

I again teased them that at the Gala Dinner they are usually the stars, but this year they were eclipsed by Eduardo’s brilliant testimony. But, I told them, I was happy to be the beneficiary of all their practice and preparation for performing at the Gala Dinner!


The following day, I celebrated the Mass of Corpus Christi at St. Mary Parish in Waltham, where Father Michael Nolan is the pastor.

It was an extraordinarily diverse and vibrant bilingual celebration. I think only in Boston would you have had Ugandan, Hispanic and American parishioners all celebrating together.IMG_0668IMG_0669IMG_0671

In my homily, I spoke about the importance of remembering God’s love for us, which is manifested in his providential care, but particularly in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, he makes a complete gift of himself to us so that we will have the strength to be his people and to make a gift of ourselves to God and others.

The Mass was followed by a wonderful procession through the streets Waltham with benediction outside. It was truly a great way of celebrating Corpus Christi, which is always one of my favorite feasts.StMarys-1StMarys-4


Immediately after the procession, I departed for Rome, where this week I have been attending a meeting of the Council of Cardinals advising the Holy Father. Much of our work this time was dedicated to considering recommendations we have received for Praedicate Evangelium, the document on the reform of the Roman Curia.IMG_0677

We have received numerous recommendations from different bishops’ conferences, Catholic universities, theologians and members of the various dicasteries here in Rome. So, it is quite a task to go through all the recommendations, but I think it will certainly improve and enrich the document, which will be very important for the curia going forward.


The Holy Father celebrated a Mass Thursday to mark the golden wedding anniversary of Guzmán Carriquiry and his wife, Lídice Gómez. IMG_0679Guzmán is a layman from Uruguay who has worked in the curia for almost 50 years and under five popes. He wrote speeches for John Paul II, helped prepare many of the Holy Father’s trips to Latin America, and he was with us at the Encuentro in Texas last year. As the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, he is the highest ranking layman in the curia. Cardinal Ouellette, who is in charge of the Congregation for Bishops, which is over the Commission for Latin America, was also with us for the Mass. IMG_0024.JPG

He and his wife have been very much involved in the life of the Church throughout their marriage. So, in a marvelous gesture, the Holy Father offered to celebrate this Mass at St. Peter’s for them. Many of their friends from Latin America and the curia gathered with them for this beautiful celebration where, with the Holy Father, they renewed their vows and exchanged rings at the Altar of the Chair.IMG_0025.JPG

The Mass was very moving and ended with the singing of the lovely song for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Desde el cielo una hermosa mañana — and the whole congregation sang it out loud and clear.

I was very moved by the fact that the day was also the Holy Father’s anniversary of episcopal ordination, but no mention of that was made. Of course, the Holy Father would never want to eclipse the couple that he was honoring at the celebration.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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22
Jun

Welcoming Eduardo Verastegui to Boston

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Hello and welcome!

Last Saturday, I had the joy of ordaining a new Capuchin priest, Brother Akolla, at St. Catherine of Sweden Church in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Cameroonian community, so we were joined by a large number of his Cameroonian relatives and friends for the celebration.dsc_0016_48082781551_odsc_0056_48082883192_odsc_0070_48082883047_odsc_0092_48082787521_odsc_0204_48082823793_odsc_0249_48082886707_odsc_0264_48082822653_o

I belong to the Pittsburgh Province, and it is always a joy when I can spend the day with our friars, especially around something as joyful as a profession or ordination.


By Sunday, which was, of course, Father’s Day, I was back in Boston and we had a Mass for the Hispanic community in the cathedral, during which we had a special blessing for all the fathers and grandfathers present.

Then, in the afternoon, I attended the 10th annual Gala Dinner to benefit the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Boston.RMSGala19b-GTracy-02RMSGala19b-GTracy-04RMSGala19b-GTracy-05

We were so pleased to be joined by our keynote speaker, Eduardo Verástegui. I have been inviting him for a long time to come to Boston, and it was wonderful that he was able to make it on this occasion. RMSGala19b-GTracy-01

He gave just an extraordinary testimony about his own conversion and his commitment to working for evangelization and the Gospel of Life in Hollywood, where so many values that are in conflict with our faith are so prevalent. There, in the midst of an extremely secular and often interreligious atmosphere, he maintains a sense of mission and the presence of God in his life, which makes him ready to risk his economic well-being and his career to be faithful to his vocation as a Catholic.RMSGala19b-GTracy-07

He also talked about making the movie Bella. He said that, after it was released, they received over a thousand letters from women who saw the movie and had been considering abortion, but after seeing the film, were convinced that that was not the path they wanted to take.RMSGala19b-GTracy-10With Eduardo and rector Father Tony Medeiros

Eduardo galvanized such a reaction from the crowd, it was just stunning. As I told the seminarians afterwards, usually the songs they sing at the end of the evening are sort of the highlight, but they were completely eclipsed by the speaker this year. The undisputed highlight of the evening was the very moving testimony of the faith of this young soap opera star-turned-apostle.

I invite you to watch his full address. (He begins in Spanish, but very quickly turns to English.)


Monday, I was visited by Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe of the Diocese of Galle, Sri Lanka, who came to the cathedral accompanied by Father Marc Bishop. He was staying with Father Bishop because he was preaching for the Mission Appeal in his parish.IMG_1353-2

He brought me the gift of this statue of a spear fisherman.IMG_0661

We had a very nice visit. During our discussion, he spoke about the terrible bombings that took place on Easter in his country, and he described the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that exists there. However, it was encouraging to hear that, after the terrible bombings, the Buddhist community reached out to them offering help, which was very consoling for Bishop Raymond and his people because they had never had that close relationship with the other religious communities.


Then, I went to the Boston College Club in Boston to attend the annual lunch for senior priests of the Archdiocese of Boston sponsored by the Order of Malta. Once again this year we were entertained by Dick Flavin, who was just extraordinary, reciting all of his poetry and stories about the Fenway and the Red Sox. He really is quite the raconteur. I know all the priests there had a wonderful time. Of course, the view of the Boston skyline from the Boston College Club is just stunning, and makes it a wonderful venue for this gathering.

We are so grateful to the Order of Malta, particularly Jack Joyce and Jim O’Connor, as well as the Boston College Club, for their efforts in supporting this special event.


Tuesday, I met at the cathedral with Mother Olga, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, John Flatley and Jason Jones to discuss the Night 4 Life. IMG_0644-2

The Night 4 Life itself was held on Wednesday. A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault

I offered a reflection and benediction, but the evening featured keynote addresses by Jason Jones and Cathy “Ki” Morrissey.

Ki Morrissey shared her story of how she became pregnant in college and was encouraged to have an abortion. She chose instead to give birth and place her son for adoption. A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault

After being separated, Ki suffered from depression and turned to God to help her through the pain. When her son was 19, he reached out to her. They reunited and were able to have a relationship. Ki said she hopes to change society’s image of birthmothers as cold and uncaring, because the choice to place a child for adoption is really one of love.A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault

Jason Jones shared his very compelling story of how, when he was in high school, his girlfriend became pregnant. They had planned to raise the child but, tragically, the girl’s father took her by force to have an abortion. A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault

Jason was so distraught by this that he decided that he would spend the rest of his life fighting against abortion. As a young man, he was very much an atheist and only came into the Church much later. Now, he collaborates with Eduardo Verástegui in making films, and it was providential that they both happened to be in Boston in the same week.A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault

It was also providential that the Night 4 Life was held during the same week that hearings were held on the ROE Act at the State House. (You can read more about the hearing and the testimony offered by representatives of Massachusetts Catholic conference in our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot.)A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault

During the event we also heard from Mayor Koch. It was very edifying to see a political figure who would speak with such conviction about the dignity for human life. Also, Rev. Gene Rivers was there representing the black community.A Night 4 Life held in Quincy, June 19, 2019.
Pilot photo/ Jacqueline Tetrault


Also on Tuesday, I attended the wake for Phil Crotty at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline, who was a member of the Order the Holy Sepulchre, an instructor of Latin at St. John’s Seminary and a longtime supporter of the seminary.Crotty

I was happy to be there for a short wake service with his friends and relatives.


Wednesday morning, I went up to Kennebunkport, Maine to join the seminarians from the Archdiocese of Boston at their annual summer retreat at the Franciscan Guest House. IMG_0646

This annual event is a wonderful opportunity for the Boston seminarians from all the different seminaries to come together for a time of prayer, recreation and fellowship. This year, for their recreation, they made a boat trip to Portland to visit the cathedral there.IMG_0652

During my visit, I celebrated Mass with them, and then we had a conference afterwards.


Wednesday afternoon, I went to South Boston to visit with members of American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, which includes several monasteries in the United States and Latin America. They were holding their General Chapter at St. Anselm’s College, and Father Casey had invited them to come to Boston.

We had Vespers together at St. Augustine Chapel, which is the oldest extant Catholic church in Boston.IMG_0654

Afterwards, they hosted a lovely barbecue for us at St. Bridget’s.IMG_0656


Thursday, we had one of our regular meetings of the Presbyteral Council. Among the items on our agenda was a presentation by Patrick Krisak and Michael Lavigne on different young adult groups in the archdiocese and how priests could encourage an adult ministry in the parishes.

It was very encouraging to hear all that is being done to help reach our young adult Catholics.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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15
Jun

The USCCB Spring Meeting

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Hello and welcome!

Last Saturday, we had the joy of ordaining seven transitional deacons at the Cathedral the Holy Cross. These are men who, next year, will be ordained priests. It is always a very happy moment for the Church to be ordaining men to ministry.Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

I was struck that the number of those being ordained was seven, which was the number of the original deacons in the Acts of the Apostles. In my homily, I teased them a little bit about that, saying that there are many things that come in sets of seven — the Seven Wonders of the World, the Magnificent Seven and, of course, the Seven Dwarves — but most importantly there are the seven deacons in the Acts of the Apostles who were ordained to carry on the ministry of mercy and to work to heal divisions in the community. These are still very important functions of our deacons today.Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

Of course, the diaconate represents the servanthood of Jesus Christ, which is manifested in this ministry. The Church has the tradition of ordaining men as deacons before they are ordained priests, but they will always be ordained into this ministry of servanthood, which will perdure in their priesthood, as well.Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata are ordained transitional deacons June 8, 2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.<br />
Pilot photo/ Gregory L. Tracy

The word deacon means “servant,” and Jesus said he came to serve, not to be served. He is calling us to follow the example that he gave us at the first Eucharist — The Last Supper — in which he washed the feet of the disciples and told us that he was doing this to give us an example of fraternal love and service to one another.


Pentecost Sunday, I went to the Madonna Queen Shrine in East Boston to celebrate confirmations for the Brazilian community. It was a very large group of about 150 confirmands.62486407_2537792409588221_5763047006796775424_n62643820_2537792292921566_6870472502657679360_n64490072_2537792439588218_6310823038329815040_n

The Mass was also an opportunity for us to welcome the two new Don Orione Fathers who have arrived to minister at the Shrine – Father Antonio, a Brazilian priest who was previously working in the Philippines, and Father Angel who is a Spanish priest and is now stationed at the shrine with responsibility for the Spanish-speaking community.

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On Monday, we began our annual Spring Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.IMG_0631

In conjunction with the plenary session, there are also always a number of committee and other meetings that are held either before or during the plenary session.

One such meeting that I attended was a meeting of the board of directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center on Monday. The NCBC actually began in Boston and is a national center that has been invaluable in the life of the Church, particularly around questions of medical ethics.NCBC

The founder and first director of the center, Dr. John Haas, is finishing up his long tenure there. So, this was his last meeting as president. DrJohnHaas-2

He has given just extraordinary service to the Church in this area that is becoming more and more complex and more and more important in the life of the Church. It was an opportunity for the bishops and the others present to express our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Haas for his tireless work. He has served the Church in so many different ways.

At the meeting, we were also introduced to the new president, Dr. Joseph Meaney, who had previously served as Director of International Outreach and Expansion for Human Life International. We were very pleased to welcome him.Meaney


That day we also had a meeting of the U.S. Bishops’ committee for the Church in Africa. This committee was founded thanks to the efforts of Bishop John Ricard, who is a Josephite. Because of his work on the board of Catholic Relief Services, he became acquainted with the tremendous growth and also the great economic challenges that the Church in Africa faces. So, he asked the conference to begin a special collection for the Church there, very much like the special election for the Church in Latin America and the Church in the Middle East. It is always very encouraging to see the wonderful things that are being done through this collection.


On Tuesday, we began the general sessions where the key issue being dealt with was the issue of accountability, transparency and involvement of laypeople in the path forward to resolve challenges in reporting and investigating allegations of misconduct concerning bishops and superiors. BISHOPS-SPRING-MEETING

There had been great expectation around the November bishops’ meeting, which was frustrated by the postponement in making decisions requested by the Vatican. Then, in January, bishops had the opportunity to gather in Chicago at Mundelein Seminary for a wonderful retreat, which was a chance to reflect more on the issue and to wait for direction from the Holy See that would apply to bishops’ conferences around the world. That document came out recently and was the basis for our deliberations and the decisions that have been made here in Baltimore. I think there was great unity shown among the bishops and resolve to confront this challenge. So, I think the bishops feel very positive about the meeting.

For those who want to learn more, I’d like to share with you this question and answer document prepared by the USCCB, which gives a broad overview of our work on this issue:

MOVING FORWARD

Concrete Steps to Hold Bishops Accountable

1. What happened in Baltimore?

The USCCB voted on several proposals to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual abuse of children or vulnerable persons, sexual misconduct, or the intentional mishandling of such cases. We specifically committed to involving and utilizing lay professional experts. We also established a new, independent mechanism for the reporting of such cases.

2. Isn’t the “Metropolitan Model” just bishops policing bishops?

While we have seen Metropolitan investigations achieve success in uncovering, publicizing and punishing bishop misconduct multiple times in the past year, the body of bishops agreed in Baltimore that independent lay oversight is crucial. The combination of lay involvement, Metropolitan leadership and the final judgment of the Holy See will ensure that complaints are evaluated thoroughly, and justice is achieved for victims and survivors.

3. How exactly will the laity be involved?

We’re building upon the well-established practice of lay expertise in the Church, starting at the very beginning of this process. Laypeople will assist us in informing the public about how to utilize our new reporting mechanism. A lay person will be informed any time a complaint comes through that process. Lay investigators will be identified at the provincial level by Metropolitan Archbishops and will play an active role in investigating individual complaints against bishops.

4. Is this process transparent? What will the public know about credible complaints against individual bishops?

Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio includes whistleblower protections that will allow anyone making a complaint to publicize it however they wish. The new Directives require those making a complaint to be given documents describing the process. As noted, the bishops are also committed to lay involvement in both the receiving of complaints against bishops and in any investigations. With these safeguards, the bishops are committed to making the process as transparent as they possibly can.

5. Level with me: Will the policies approved in Baltimore protect people from abuse at the hands of bishops?

We’ve achieved a goal stated by USCCB President Cardinal DiNardo throughout the process: We’ve filled the gaps in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and now build upon its success. The Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, the new Directives, the renewed Episcopal Commitments, the third-party reporting system, and the heavy emphasis and reliance on lay expertise in the United States will bring unprecedented accountability throughout the hierarchy of the American Church.

The national reporting mechanism may not be ready until next spring, but we already have something in place in the Archdiocese of Boston. When the bishops of the Boston Province realized what the timeframe was for the national program to be launched, they asked to come on board with Boston, so that we can begin this program immediately while we wait for the bishops’ conference to be able to launch the national program.  Of course, the program will involve laypeople in the process. So, we are very happy to welcome them and there will be further announcements about this in the very near future.


While the issue of accountability was our primary focus, there were some other items from our meeting that I want to share with you.

For example, we also heard a presentation by Bishop Robert Barron on millennials, evangelization and apologetics, in preparation for a more fulsome presentation that he and his group will be presenting at the U.S. Bishops’ meeting in November.BISHOPS-DEATH-PENALTY

There was also a request from Bishop Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan to advance the cause of canonization for Mr. Irving Houle.

Mr. Houle was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a veteran, an athlete and a father of a family — he was a man who led a very ordinary, but a very holy life. BISHOPS-HOULE-CAUSE

He is being held up as an example of sanctity in the ordinary circumstances of the life of a Catholic. He is now a Servant of God and with the approval of the bishops’ conference his cause can advance.

And, of course, the bishops were also very pleased when it was announced that Father Augustus Tolton, a former slave who became the first black priest in the U.S., was put on the path to sainthood by Pope Francis when, on Wednesday, he signed the decree of recognizing his heroic virtue.POPE-CAUSES-TOLTON

We also took a vote on the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States.


The bishops’ meeting happened to coincide with the birthday of Bishop Robert Reed. So, on Wednesday we had a small birthday party at a local Italian restaurant for him.IMG_0628_2

It was nice of him to plan his birthday in a way that all the Boston bishops could be together for the celebration!

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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