The Archdiocese of Boston announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement in principle with Boston College for the purchase and sale of additional property from the Archdiocese’s Brighton campus.
We have reached a significant milestone in announcing this agreement. Proceeds from this sale will allow the Archdiocese to invest resources for the benefit of our parishes, clergy, St. John’s Seminary and the many important programs that serve a large number of people. In keeping with my long standing commitment, St. John’s Seminary will remain at its present location. The Church has been blessed with a significant increase in the number of young men who have expressed interest in priesthood and religious life, earlier this year close to 100 men attended discernment retreats. The future is bright for St. John’s, strengthened by the participation of dioceses from throughout our region. On behalf of the Archdiocese I wish to express my gratitude to Boston College, which has been a good friend and neighbor to the Archdiocese during as we work to rebuild our local Church, and to share my looking forward to our continuing to collaborate on behalf of the people of God.
The archdiocesan offices will be relocated to a new Pastoral Center building located in Braintree and owned by The Flatley Companies.
We are grateful to Tom Flatley for working with the Archdiocese in identifying a new home for our new pastoral center. Tom has lifted the spirits of scores of people over many years through his philanthropic work and he has made many important contributions both in talent and resources to our local Church. He cares deeply about the future of our Catholic community and we pray that his commitment to the Church inspires others to help us in this important moment of rebuilding.
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Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of visiting the MIT Catholic Center and students there. I was invited by the director of campus ministry, Father Richard Clancy, to pray midday prayer with a group of students and campus ministers. They gave me a tour of the chapel, which I had never seen before. I have been to MIT for evenings with the students, but it was the first time I saw where the Eucharist is celebrated and architecturally it is a very beautiful place.
After midday prayer, there was a reception and an opportunity to meet the students and to answer their questions about the Catholic Church. There was one student there who is involved in a project in Honduras, and there were a number of people who told me about their activities on campus. Among the students was Brandon Suarez, whose father I knew when he was in high school. It was quite a surprise to see him there. I was very happy that he was there and that, like so many of the young people there, he is committed to his faith and involved in the wonderful campus ministry that is taking place at MIT.
The Catholic campus ministry at MIT also has a board of directors of lay people who are very engaged in the ministry. They do fundraising and serve as consultants. The board is a way of maintaining alumni involvement in the ministry and has been very, very effective at MIT. As a matter of fact, Father Clancy was saying during this meeting that he would like to use that model for other universities.
It is said that we have 250,000 university students in the Archdiocese of Boston. A very large percentage of them are Catholic, so we give great importance to campus ministry as a way of forming leaders in the Church. I am very grateful to all the priests, religious and lay people who are committed to this ministry.
A t-shirt you would only get from MIT students!
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The following day I attended a Mass celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordinations of our archdiocesan priests. Every year we gather with the auxiliary bishops, the jubilarians and other priests to celebrate a Mass at Regina Cleri. It is always a very uplifting experience and an opportunity to gather with the men in a spirit of thanksgiving. We offer the Eucharist with them, thanking God for the gift of the priesthood and thanking the priests for their years of service and ministry to God�s people. Only two of the jubilarians are still heading parishes � Father George Carrigg at St. Christopher Parish in Dorchester and Father John Mulvehill at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Cohasset. Many of the others are senior priests, and some of them are retired.
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On Saturday evening, I celebrated a Youth Mass for Peace at St. Peter Parish in Dorchester. We were supposed to have it outdoors at Ronan Park, but because of the inclement weather, it was moved to St. Peter Church, which is a magnificent venue and a beautiful church. The Mass was organized by Boston Catholic Youth Connection, a Catholic Charities program with 12 member parishes. The BCYC was formed in April of 2005 and has organized monthly Masses ever since. Certainly, we are very happy for the success of these peace Masses that have been moving from community to community, trying to encourage our young people to stay away from violence.
Present at the Mass were young people from several of the inner-city parishes, including our own Cathedral of the Holy Cross Some of the readings and songs were in Portuguese because there is a large Cape Verdean contingent in the inner city. They had beautiful music and good participation, as always. The young people took care of the different liturgical roles. I was happy that so many of their priests were able to be there to support them, and a number of the parents came as well.
One part of the celebration I�d like to make particular mention of is a pledge of peace that the youth make. The young people promise not to become involved in drugs or carry weapons. They sign the pledge and then place it in the offertory basket. It is a very meaningful gesture.
This the pledge they make:
�Lord, I am Your follower.
I offer to You all that I think, do and say.
Help me to know and love and serve You.
Give me the courage to show Your peace and love
to the world through my actions and my words.
Father, I am your child.
Today I promise You:
I will not join a gang,
I will not carry a weapon,
I will not use or sell drugs,
I will resolve conflict in peaceful ways,
I will seek help when I am afraid,
I will reject violence and retaliation.
You are my Father. Keep me safe.
I am your servant. I pledge to be an instrument of Your peace.�
The basket where they placed the peace pledges
Following the Mass, the youth were invited for basketball and refreshments at the Catholic Charities Teen Center at St. Peter�s, where Brother Tino worked for so many years. The center will be opened longer hours during the summertime to accommodate our young people and to give them a safe and nurturing environment to gather. It is normally open weekdays from 2:30-6 p.m. and for the summer will be open every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.I want to thank Paulo DeBarros, director of the Catholic Charities Teen Center at St. Peter�s, who has been a moving force in this. I would also like to thank Vivian Soper, the director of community services for Catholic Charities, and of course Father Dan Finn, administrator at St. Peter�s and pastor at St. Mark Parish in Dorchester.
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On Sunday I traveled to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Brockton to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the parish. The musical program was certainly extraordinary, far beyond what you would expect in an average suburban parish. They had two choirs joined together and it was truly very, very professional and very, very beautiful. The music is a source of pride and satisfaction for the whole parish community. The community was certainly a reflection of the catholicity of the Church in the archdiocese. It was obvious that there were people of so many different ethnic groups, and it was almost like a Pentecost experience to witness them worshiping and praying together and united in one heart and one mind. The pastor there, Father Frank Cloherty, gives outstanding leadership. He has been a vicar and is so involved in the life of the archdiocese.
Following the Mass, there was a luncheon in the hall and two of the servers who are twins actually put on a musical number. They did a very good job!
On my way back from that Mass, I traveled to St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Cohasset for a celebration of Father John Mulvehill�s jubilee. When we arrived, the Mass had ended, and the people had gone to the hall. Many of them were standing outside. We wondered why they were standing there until we got there and realized that the hall was so crowded that people actually had to wait to get in! It was a wonderful show of support and affection for Father John. I was very pleased to be able to meet members of his family, and I also got a kick out of the fact that I met about a half a dozen O�Malleys, including one woman who told me that her name was Grace O�Malley. �You know there�s a play about you on Broadway now,� I told her. She replied, �Yes. I�m going to go see it.�
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On Monday, I attended the commencement of Boston College. It was a beautiful day and the keynote speaker was Jack Connors who is an outstanding lay leader in the archdiocese.
Jack Connors delivers his address
He is very committed to Catholic education at every level and gave an inspiring talk. He challenged the graduates not to simply rush out and try to earn as much money as possible. He encouraged them to use their talents and to give back to society. He talked about the great satisfaction that it has been in his life to be able to do just that, and he also showcased the importance of his family, his wife and children.
It was a very important testimony to the young people in a time when marriage and family are not always on young people�s radar screen. Everyone was very pleased with what he had to say, and I think that the graduates went away with a message that was meaningful.
In addition to Jack, there were a number of other honorees who received doctorates. One of them was a Cape Verdean woman from St. Patrick Parish in Roxbury, Isaura Mendes. She lost two sons to the violence in the city but has been instrumental in mobilizing the Cape Verdean inner-city community, drawing people together to work toward a safer environment for our young people. She is a very lovely person, and I was so glad that she was honored in this way. I was pleased to meet her family and neighbors who accompanied her.
Another honorary degree recipient was a Jesuit priest, Father George Coyne, who for two decades ran the Vatican Observatory telescope at Castel Gandolfo. I was teasing him afterwards, telling him that there are something like 36 craters on the moon named after Jesuits. There is actually a comet named after this priest. So I told him that, in regard to the capuchins, the only thing we had named after us was a cup of coffee!
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Also on that day, I visited Boston University for the presentation of the Cardinal Medeiros scholarships. Every spring BU has a ceremony at which the president of BU and the Archbishop of Boston name the recipients of the Medeiros scholarships and give them certificates. I was very impressed by the caliber of the recipients, obviously many of them are valedictorians or salutatorians in their classes. I was also very pleased to see how engaged they are in their faith and the life of the Church. There was such a variety of people from different backgrounds � Asian and Indian. They are a cross-section of what the Catholic Church is in Boston now.
When Dr. John Silber was president of BU, he instituted this scholarship in honor of Cardinal Humberto Medeiros. Each year one graduate from each of the area Catholic high schools is given a full four-year scholarship to BU, which is worth quite a bit. We are very grateful to BU for this ongoing support that they give to our Catholic school students. We are also very proud of the outstanding work of Father Paul Helfrich, the Brotherhood of Hope, Sister Olga Yaqob and all of those involved in the campus ministry at BU, which is one of the finest Catholic communities at an institution of higher learning in the archdiocese.
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On Tuesday evening, I attended an event called the �Friend Raiser� at the San Lorenzo Friary, a capuchin formation house.
San Lorenzo Friary
The event was an open house to which the friars invited a number of friends and benefactors. They gathered for a short prayer service, and it was an opportunity for them to learn more about the ministries that the capuchin friars are doing throughout the world, but particularly here locally in the archdiocese.
Here are some photos taken at the friend raiser:
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The ongoing issue of immigration reform is very important to us as a Church. The bishop�s conference is still very engaged in this conversation, and we are monitoring the various proposals that are being brought forth. We are still advocating for a comprehensive solution that will put immigrants on a path towards citizenship and full participation in the life of the community. The solution must also protect family reunification, which has been the bulwark of American immigration policy.