On Friday, the night before the ordinations, we gathered with the deacons to be ordained priests the next morning. We prayed vespers in the Blessed Sacrament chapel in the cathedral and then had dinner together. As I do each year, I gave them their ordination gift, a ritual book and the oil stocks because I want to emphasize the priest’s special ministry to the sick. Then I met with each of them individually to give them their first parish assignments. I tell them that I give it the night before the ordination in case any of them want to bolt!
The next day we had the ordination in the cathedral. It was a very prayerful event.
We tried to observe all the safety practices given our circumstances of the pandemic, but it didn’t prevent us from having a beautiful celebration and a good number of people present at the cathedral for the Mass.
The fact that it was on CatholicTV allowed friends and family members who could not be physically present to participate virtually.
I want to share with you my homily here.
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August 2 was the Feast of the Portiuncula, Our Lady of the Angels. It is also the day I was consecrated a bishop on the Virgin Islands 36 years ago.
I have always had a great love for this feast day. As child, we would go with my grandmother to the Poor Clares and the Franciscan friars to pray the prayers for the indulgence of the feast. Pope Honorius granted a plenary indulgence to St. Francis for this feast day because he wanted people who were unable to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to have the opportunity to receive the same indulgence by visiting the church of the Portiuncula and praying for the intentions of the Holy Father. This indulgence was also extended to other Franciscan churches.
It is a beautiful celebration, and in our own diocese we have a replica of the Portiuncula in Hanover.
That is where Cardinal Cushing is buried, at the Cardinal Cushing Center. He was very devoted to children with special needs and the Franciscan sisters that ran that institution.
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On Monday afternoon I participated in a Zoom call with Father Michael Dell a Penna, OFM, Pastor of St. Leonard of Port Maurice Parish in the North End, and Michael Bonetti a member of the St. Anthony Society Feast Day Committee.
There is a St. Anthony Society for men and a St. Lucy Society for women. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the St. Lucy Society. They have solicited help in obtaining a relic of St. Lucy for next year’s celebration for the 100th anniversary. They have a relic of St. Anthony, and they hope to have one of St. Lucy for next year. They do a lot of charitable work in the community and have a chapel in the North End to St. Anthony and St. Lucy and the annual procession is one of their major events.
Due to the current public health restrictions the Society will not be able to proceed with the traditional celebrations of St. Anthony and St. Lucy later this month but will sponsor a virtual celebration each evening from August 27-30, including a livestream ed Mass from St. Leonard Church. Information about the virtual celebrations can be found at: http://www.stanthonysfeast.com/.
We are grateful for the pastoral outreach of the parish and the Society during these challenging times. It is my hope to join in the traditional celebrations next summer, circumstances at that time permitting.
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On Tuesday morning, the Feast of St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Parish Priests, we had the Chrism Mass at the cathedral.
As I told the priests and the people in attendance, we have all heard of Christmas in July, but now we have Holy Week in August. But I am very pleased that we waited for the Chrism Mass because it was a very prayerful experience and it did allow us to gather a large number of priests, something that, if we’d had it virtually during Holy Week, we would have missed out on.
Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Church, who usually joins us, was unable to be with us, but he did send his greetings and best wishes to the priests of the archdiocese.
As we always do, we prayed for the priests and bishops who have died in the last year. We also singled out the jubilarians and the newly ordained as well as the COVID-19 priest response team, who administered the sacraments to COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.
This celebration allows us to have an experience of the unity of the priesthood as together we bless the oils . Those same oils will be used in all the celebrations of the sacraments throughout the archdiocese for baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, and anointings of the sick. It is also the Mass at which we renew our priestly vows.
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On Tuesday evening the Knights of Columbus opened the 138th Supreme Convention in a virtual format. It began with a televised opening Mass from the beautifully restored St. Mary Church in New Haven, Connecticut, a restoration funded by the Knights.
Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford was the principal celebrant for the Mass, joined by Archbishop William Lori, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights, and other priests present. During the Mass, Archbishop Lori shared Pope Francis’ well-wishes to the Knights of Columbus, sent to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson by way of a letter from Vatican Secretariat of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin.
The message acknowledged the meeting’s theme, “Knights of Fraternity,” and the Order’s work during the pandemic, saying, “In these days, your Order has provided charitable support on the local, national and international level to individuals and communities suffering because of the pandemic or otherwise often forgotten or marginalized” and continued that “His Holiness is grateful for these and for the many other countless ways in which the Knights of Columbus continue to bear prophetic witness to God’s dream for a more fraternal, just and equitable world in which all are recognized as neighbors and no one is left behind.” Additionally, the papal message included the Holy Father’s appreciation for the Knights’ work on behalf of persecuted Christians, the unborn and all those marginalized because of the pandemic or other circumstances, as well as his confidence that the recently announced beatification of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Order, “will be a stimulus for Knights to deepen their commitment to live as missionary disciples in charity, unity and fraternity.”
In his annual report, Carl Anderson highlighted the activities of the Knights this past year. The Knights of Columbus have donated more than $187 million and volunteered more than 77 million hours of service valued at more than $2 billion. In this time of a pandemic, they put in place a program to help people most vulnerable to the illness, as well as supported blood drives and food banks. They also offered million-dollar lines of credit to dioceses in financial trouble.
The video of the Opening Mass and other important information concerning the Knights of Columbus can be found at: https://www.kofc.org/un/en/news-room/convention/2020/opening-mass-video.html. We’re grateful for the extraordinary work that the Knights of Columbus do, and we all look forward to the beatification of Father McGivney, scheduled to take place at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut on October 31st this year.
Until next week.