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Advent in Rome

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Hello and welcome!

This week, I have been in Rome for meetings of the Council of Cardinals advising the Holy Father on the reform of the Roman Curia.

I arrived in Rome on Saturday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holiday in Italy and has many traditions associated with it.

Every year since the mid-1800s, the firefighters of Rome hang a wreath of flowers on the statue of the Virgin Mary overlooking the Spanish Steps.POPE-IMMACULATE-CONCEPTION

Then, there is a visit by the Holy Father in which he prays and leaves a basket of roses at the foot of the statue. POPE-IMMACULATE-CONCEPTION

It is also the day that crèches are first put up for the season.IMG_9535IMG_9546This year, the crèche in St. Peter’s Square is rather unique. The sculpture is made of sand taken from a beach in Venice.IMG_9536IMG_9537


The crèche in Domus Santa Marta

This crèche sits next to the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, which is an Ethiopian Catholic church in Vatican City.IMG_9526IMG_9530

I thought it was very interesting, with its two levelsIMG_9532IMG_9533

It’s lit up very beautifully at night, as well

I also wanted to share with you this photo of an area inside Vatican City that I had never visited before.WallSantAngleoEnterance4-2

It is off the side of the colonnade, near the Portone di Bronzo, or Bronze Doors, that lead to the Apostolic Palace. The wall that you see in the photo contains the passageway between the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo. That passageway is mentioned in Dan Brown’s novel when he talks about having a corridor that would lead from the Apostolic Palace to the fortress. Of course, at times when the Holy See was under attack, they would have had to take the pope through that passageway to the fortress.

On Sunday, I had lunch with Father Charles Sammons and Brother Thomas Piolatta, two of the American Capuchin friars who are stationed in Rome.Charles and Brother Tom

With Brother Tom and Father Charles

Father Charles works at the Capuchin General Curia and Brother Tom, who is from my own Province of St. Augustine and made his final vows in Pittsburgh this summer, is pursuing graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University. It was lovely to see them.

Whenever I am in Rome, I try to set aside some time to meet with the Boston priests and seminarians who are there. So, on Sunday night, I had dinner with our seminarians at the Pontifical North American College and Fathers Kevin Staley-Joyce and Andreas Davison, who are pursuing graduate studies in Rome. We were also joined by Msgr. Paul McInerny and Msgr. John Abruzzese.IMG_9544

It was nice to be able to celebrate Msgr. Abruzzese’s recent nomination as a Canon of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. He has just started there and seems very happy in his new role.

Also during the week, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Msgr. William Helmick. Msgr. Helmick recently retired from his post at St. Theresa’s in West Roxbury, and he was taking some time to visit Rome during the Advent season.

Monday, our meetings of the Council of Cardinals began. This time, we discussed the preparations for the February meeting of the presidents of bishops’ conferences on the topic of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, some proposals to find savings in the operating costs of the Holy See, as well as an update on the status of the new Dicastery for Communications.c-9-december2018

We were very happy to be joined at our meetings by Bishop Marco Mellino, the new adjunct secretary of the Council. Bishop Mellino is a canon lawyer, and he will be assisting on the canonical aspects of the document for the reform of the Curia that we have just finished, Predicate Evangelium. So, we congratulated him and are happy to have his help in our work.

POPE-MASS-CONSOLATIONCelebrating Mass with the Holy Father on Tuesday

Every year a different state in Mexico puts on an exhibition of their Christmas traditions at the Paul VI Audience Hall. So, on Tuesday evening there was a reception held by the Embassy of Mexico to the Holy See to showcase it. This year the state selected was Tamaulipas, which is on Mexico’s east coast, just south of Texas.IMG_9557IMG_9554IMG_9558IMG_9555

Tamaulipas is the home state of actor Eduardo Verástegui, so he was with us for the event. Eduardo is a member of the Papal Foundation, but I am sure he will be more widely recognized for his roles in “Bella,” “Little Boy” and “For Greater Glory.”Eduardo Verastegui

That afternoon, I had lunch with the leadership of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at Domus Santa Marta.Canadian Bishops conference

With CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Frank Leo; President, Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec; and Vice President, Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg

They were in Rome on their annual visit to meet with the Holy Father and the curial offices, and they wanted to discuss some of their initiatives around child protection.

That evening I was very happy to join the Holy Father for his Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. IMG_9564

The Mass was celebrated in Spanish and there was a huge crowd of Latin Americans in the basilica. POPE-GUADALUPE

The Mass is always very colorful, with people wearing their traditional clothing.POPE-GUADALUPEPOPE-GUADALUPE

They ended the Mass by carrying the image of Our Lady in procession and singing one of the very famous hymns to Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Desde el cielo una hermosa mañana.”

I returned to Boston Thursday, and today I celebrated the Funeral Mass for Father Joseph Kane at St. Catherine Parish in Norwood, joined by Bishop Uglietto, Father Kane’s close friends Father Tom Wyndham and Father Garrett Barry and many of our fellow priests. Kane-JosephIn his homily, Father Wyndham shared how much Father Kane loved being a priest and that his almost 50 years of ordained ministry were lived in joyful service to the people of God. IMG_9569

For many years, Father Kane was the chaplain at Marian Manor in South Boston where he was much beloved by the residents and the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm, a presence he continued during his years as a Senior Priest in residence at Regina Cleri. In recognition of that service, the Carmelite Sisters and the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master joined us at the Mass. It is always good to be with the Sisters who provide such important ministry in the archdiocese, and it was wonderful to have them there as we bid Father Kane farewell.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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Beginning Advent

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Hello and welcome!

Friday, I went to the IBEW Hall in Dorchester for the Labor Guild’s annual Cushing-Gavin Awards Dinner.CGA-Image-3We are very proud of the work that has been done by the Labor Guild, which is one of the very important initiatives begun by Cardinal Cushing. Historically, the Church in the United States, since the time of Cardinal James Gibbons, has been very supportive of our labor unions and the right of workers to collective bargaining. In these days of apparent prosperity in our country, income inequality continues to grow. Part of this is because workers do not have a strong voice in their economic future. This is where unions can play such an important role.

Each year at the dinner, the Guild recognizes four individuals for service in labor-management relations: a member of the labor community, a member of the management community, a labor mediator and a labor attorney. This year, the honorees were Stephen Finnigan, Stephen Coyle, Attorney Sarah Kerr Garraty and Attorney Anne Sills.CGAward18

With Guild Chaplain Father Bryan Hehir and awardees Stephen Finnigan, Anne Sills, Sarah Kerr Garraty and Stephen Coyle

That evening, I went to St. Mary’s in Waltham for a meeting with the local members of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Also with us was Father Eric Cadin of our Vocations Office, who is overseeing our campus ministry.CardinalDinner-1

The FOCUS missionaries are recent college graduates who, after a time of training, work with the Catholic campus ministry at a university to encourage the students to be involved in their programs and to develop a personal relationship with Christ. Currently in Boston, we have missionaries working at Harvard, MIT and Boston University, and hope they will be able to expand their presence here in the future.

The dinner was an opportunity for us to hear about their experiences ministering here in the archdiocese.CardinalDinner-3

Being an archdiocese with nearly 70 colleges and universities and nearly 400,000 students, this is a very important ministry for us. We are very grateful for all that FOCUS does here in our archdiocese and throughout the country.

Sunday, I went to Quincy to celebrate Mass with Mother Olga and her community, the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth. Their presence is a great blessing for us and I am so pleased to see that they continue to have young women interested in joining their community.IMG_9502

Sunday was the Feast of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and his is one of the charisms that has inspired the Daughters. So, I was happy to celebrate Mass with the Sisters on this special feast day.IMG_9500 (1)

That evening, I gathered with the members of the Boston Area Order of Malta for their annual Advent celebration at St. John’s Seminary.

We began our gathering with a Mass celebrated in the seminary chapel. 20181201Malta_gm_007820181201Malta_gm_008320181201Malta_gm_009020181201Malta_gm_009420181201Malta_gm_0112

During the Mass, they honored Jack MacKinnon with the Bishop Fitzpatrick Award, which I presented to him.20181201Malta_gm_0104

Following the Mass, we gathered for a dinner in the refectory. There, we heard a talk by Father Stephen Salocks, the interim rector of the seminary, on the history and mission of St. John’s.20181201Malta_gm_025520181201Malta_gm_0291

I also offered remarks, in which I reflected on the meaning of this season of Advent and the ways in which the Order of Malta puts into practice Christ’s call for us to love and serve one another.20181201Malta_gm_0307

Damien DeVasto is concluding his time of service as the Boston Area Chair and he is being succeeded by Nancy and Craig Gibson. So, at the end of our gathering, we took some time to recognize him and a number of members of the Order offered words of thanks for his exemplary leadership and many accomplishments during his time as Area Chair.20181201Malta_gm_0351

On behalf of the Order, I presented Damien with a lovely crystal bowl as a sign of their appreciation.

Sunday morning, we had our Annual Catholic Appeal Appreciation Mass at the Pastoral Center. We hold this Mass each year as an opportunity to thank the people for their support of the Appeal.

Appeal 2018 logo

We are grateful for all that they do in helping to advance the mission of the Church in Boston.

Sunday evening, I gathered for dinner with several members of the Neocatechumenal Way in Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in East Boston. They actually came to the Cathedral and prepared a nice dinner for me.IMG_9511

We had a lovely meal together, during which they shared their personal witness of the work of God’s grace in their lives and their families’ lives. It was a wonderful encounter.

Tuesday I met with Father Timothy Kesicki, who is the President of the Jesuit Conference of the U.S. and Canada along with Father Michael Boughton, the rector of St. Peter Faber Jesuit Community in Brighton and Father Tom Stegman, the Dean of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.Jesuits

With Fathers Boughton, Stegman and Kesicki

It was good to hear about the many Jesuits in formation at the Faber Community and the Jesuit priests residing there while pursuing advanced studies at the B.C. School of Theology and Ministry.  I thanked them for the presence of their young priests, who are helping out in so many of our parishes and ethnic ministries. I know their presence is so greatly appreciated by the priests and people of the archdiocese.

Father Kesicki has significant responsibilities as president of the U.S./Canada Jesuit Conference and shared with us reports of the good work that is being done by the Jesuits in many dioceses throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Wednesday, I met with Jim Towey, the president of Ave Maria University in Florida. I am on the board of the university and he wanted to update me on some of their activities and projects.IMG_9515

One of those projects is a special institute on Mother Teresa. As part of that, they take students to Calcutta and many different places in the world so they can work with Mother Teresa’s sisters. I understand it has been a wonderful experience for them.

That afternoon, we had one of our regular meetings of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. The meetings bring together the ordinaries of the four dioceses of Massachusetts and members of their staffs to discuss issues of common concern.MCC-Logo

It was a very good meeting in which we discussed ways to help people understand what the response to the crisis in the Church has been in the four dioceses of Massachusetts since 2002. We will certainly be speaking more about that in the future.

And finally, that day I also met Eustace Mita, who is the president of the Papal Foundation, of which I am now the chairman.

He came to meet with me about the Foundation but also to discuss the work of his men’s conference Man Up Philly. He has been very successful in creating this conference and helping to initiate it in different parts of the country and offered to help us if we wanted to start another men’s conference here the Archdiocese of Boston.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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