Day: November 9, 2007

Celebrating Mass for persons with disabilities

I was very happy to learn that Professor Mary Ann Glendon, an exceptional Catholic intellectual, has been named ambassador of the United States to the Holy See by President George Bush. She is a true apostle of the gospel of life and of so many Catholic causes.


Here in Boston, we are very proud of the fact that another outstanding Catholic of the archdiocese has been singled out for the very prestigious and important post. Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn was the first Catholic from Boston to be given that honor and responsibility. As Catholics, we know that our representation at the Vatican is very important for church-state relations. In addition, the Vatican has always been a listening post for the diplomatic corps. Senior diplomats from many different countries are often assigned there because it has always been seen as a very important place to have diplomatic representation.

It is wonderful that someone with the caliber of Prof. Glendon will be representing us. Sometimes these are political nominations, but Prof. Glendon has obviously been chosen for her experience and great talent. In Boston we are so grateful for her gifts in her work locally and abroad. She has served as president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and was named the first woman to head a Vatican delegation to a major U.N. conference — the U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing — by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

– – –

Last Saturday, Bishop John Boles and I addressed a seminar on stewardship at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton. Various parishes throughout the archdiocese sent representatives.

I led the group in morning prayer and shared with them some of my reflections on the importance of stewardship. Our Catholic people need to understand that stewardship is not just about fundraising. Rather, it is a way of living a life of discipleship and giving back to God. The Lord has given us everything we have and everything we are, and we must recognize that in the way we use our time, treasure and talent.

Stewardship is a very important spirituality for our lay people, and I am very pleased that so many parishes are beginning to take advantage of this wonderful program. It allows them to reflect on the Gospel teachings and invites people to lead a very deep spirituality that involves them at every level in the life of the Church.

– – –

Later that day, I traveled to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Braintree for a groundbreaking on a new addition that will add rooms and an elevator to the church, to make the building handicapped accessible and more friendly for families with young children.


Breaking the ground with Father Kevin Sepe, Pastor of St. Francis


Blessing the grounds under the rain

A number of parishioners were there, including the Nortons, a lovely family with a little boy who was in a wheelchair. His presence brought home how important accessibility is for our parishioners. He was four or five years old and as cute as a button.

The Norton family


Greeting Peg Mahoney and Sally Nilan,
two parishioners who attended the groundbreaking


Greeting Michael and Diane O’Sullivan,
also parishioners attending the ceremony

– – –

In the evening I attended the celebration closing the centennial year of St. Tarcisius Parish in Framingham. The parish is under the pastoral care of the Scalabrinian Fathers. Father Joseph Pranzo, the Pastor, was very gracious and welcoming. He is doing a wonderful job bringing together the different ethnic groups present at the parish, particularly in welcoming the Brazilian community, which is a very important part of the parish.

I began my visit to the parish by blessing their new early childhood education center as well as a new, state of the art computer center at St. Tarcisius School. The principal, Mary Ellen Wyman, is doing wonderful things there.


Blessing the Early Childhood Education Center…


… and the new technology center


After the blessing we joined the rest of the parish community in the church for the Mass to close the centennial year.




Though the Mass was celebrated in English, many of the readings and prayers were projected on this screen in both English and Portuguese throughout the Mass





At the conclusion of the Mass the children of the school performed a dance for us




Greeting parishioners after the Mass


St. Tarcisius has a rich history of ministering to the immigrant Catholics of Framingham. The parish was originally founded to serve the area’s Italian immigrants. Later, a large group of Portuguese made the parish their spiritual home and, as I mentioned above, now they have a thriving Brazilian community. As a tribute that history the readings and prayers at the Mass were proclaimed in Italian, Portuguese and English.


The parish has such a wonderful, diverse community





The evening concluded with a banquet in the parish center.


Father Pranzo leads us in grace at the parish banquet


Several Sisters of St. Joseph, who a have a long tradition of service at St. Tarcisius School, were on hand for the celebration

– – –

On Sunday, I celebrated the archdiocese’s annual Mass for persons with disabilities at St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Hanover.


In my homily, I quoted the first paragraph in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral statement on people with disabilities. This paragraph, which I have posted below, is a beautiful explanation of the Church’s responsibility to serve those with disabilities.


Celebrating the Mass


Distributing Holy Communion

The same Jesus who heard the cry for recognition from the people with disabilities of Judea and Samaria 2,000 years ago calls us, His followers, to embrace our responsibility to our own disabled brothers and sisters in the United States. The Catholic Church pursues its mission by furthering the spiritual, intellectual, moral and physical development of the people it serves. As pastors of the Church in America, we are committed to working for a deeper understanding of both the pain and the potential of our neighbors who are blind, deaf, mentally retarded, emotionally impaired, who have special learning problems, or who suffer from single or multiple physical handicaps—all those whom disability may set apart. We call upon people of good will to reexamine their attitudes toward their brothers and sisters with disabilities and promote their well-being, acting with the sense of justice and the compassion that the Lord so clearly desires. Further, realizing the unique gifts individuals with disabilities have to offer the Church, we wish to address the need for their integration into the Christian community and their fuller participation in its life.


Karen Murray, Archdiocesan director of the
Office for persons with Disabilities


Sr. Clarinda, a Franciscan Sister
from the Cardinal Cushing Center in Hanover

The Gospel reading that day was about Zacchaeus, and I said that, in the Gospel, the crowd kept pushing Zacchaeus away, making it impossible for him to see the Lord. That is why he had to climb the sycamore tree. I added that in our Church, we do not want to be like a crowd that pushes people away. We want to be a community that draws people closer to Christ.


Greeting a parishioner


With the Pastor of St. Mary’s, Father Chris Hickey

– – –

That evening, there was a Mass followed by the Cardinal Cushing Award Banquet for the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle at Boston College High School. Many of the former St. James priests were there, including Father Vincent Daily, who gave the benediction, and Bishop Robert Hennessey, who served in Bolivia. Three honorees — Joseph Corcoran, Joseph Milano and Donald Rodman — received the Cardinal Cushing Medal.


Preparing in the sacristy



The BC High choir did a superb job




Msgr. Finbarr O’Leary, Director of the Society, proclaimed the Gospel


Preaching the homily


The cocktail hour before the banquet


Joe Corcoran, Joe Milano and Don Rodman


It was quite a cake!


The centerpiece on the tables featured the flags of the different
countries in which the society serves: Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia


Mary Richardson of WCVB’s “Chronicle” program served as emcee for the evening


We had a chance to chat during dinner


Dr. Martin Dunn was chairperson of the banquet


Presenting Joe Corcoran with his Cardinal Cushing Award


Joe Milano receiving his award


Don Rodman speaking after receiving his award



The color guard of the East Boston High Junior ROTC did an impressive job
posting and retiring the colors at the banquet

The St. James Society is getting ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary. I will be going down to Peru to celebrate with other priests at a special Mass in January. It was 50 years ago that Cardinal Richard Cushing responded to the Holy Father’s call for the Church of North America to aid the Latin American Church because of the shortage of clergy. Cardinal Cushing had previously been involved in the Propagation of the Faith and was a man who was very mission-minded. Additionally, he was very aware of the needs of the Church and also of our need to support the mission Ad Gentes.

In the last 50 years, over 300 priests have served in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia in some of the poorest and most remote parishes. It is always very inspirational to visit them (which I do once a year) and to see first-hand the wonderful work that is being done there. They enjoy the support, the prayers and the encouragement of the Catholics of Boston, and we are very, very proud of them.

– – –

Lisa Palmieri-Billig, the American Jewish Committee’s representative in Rome and liaison to the Vatican, was in Boston this past week. Ms. Palmieri-Billig and Dr. Lawrence Lowenthal, Executive Director of the Boston chapter of the AJC, as well as several members of the local AJC board of directors, visited with me for about an hour. The meeting was very cordial and enjoyable.


Ms. Palmieri-Billig offered an overview of the work of Catholic-Jewish relations, as she sees it from Rome. She emphasized that Pope Benedict’s positive outreach to the Jewish community has been appreciated. She noted that among the first things the Pope did after his election was to contact several Jewish leaders to assure them that he intends to continue to build up the relationship and dialogue so beautifully fostered by Pope John Paul II. As a result of the late Pontiff’s good work, there are presently many initiatives in Italy between Jews and Christians. For example, with the support of the Italian bishops, one day each year is specifically devoted to dialogue between Jews and Catholics in local Italian communities.


Lisa Palmieri-Billig and Father David Michael, Pastor of St. John Chrysostom in West Roxbury and liaison to the Jewish community in Boston

Ms. Palmieri-Billig was very pleased to learn of the longstanding relationship we have in the Archdiocese with members of the local Jewish community. I pointed out to the group that a great deal of the very close relations in Boston date back to the time of Cardinal Cushing. I told them that last year I preached at a synagogue in Andover, and at the dinner the rabbi told me how much the people appreciated Cardinal Cushing opening a Catholic hospital there. He said that the Jewish doctors were not accepted in the other hospitals. And I said, one of the reasons that Cardinal Cushing opened the Catholic hospital was that Catholic doctors were not allowed in other hospitals either! At that time many Catholic boys were coming back from the service and graduating from medical school with G.I. bills. We had a first generation of Catholic doctors. Caritas Christi is part of this wonderful tradition of serving the people but also providing a place for Catholic and Jewish doctors to be able to function in a professional setting at a time when the other hospitals were not open to receiving them.


Lisa Palmieri-Billig and James Kaufman, past President of the Board of AJC Boston Chapter

Dr. Lowenthal and the other guests at the meeting also spoke of their appreciation for our ongoing dialogue and relationship. They expressed their hopes that this good work could be further extended into our local parishes and synagogues. I support any efforts for Catholics to reach out to their Jewish brothers and sisters in order to learn more about one another and to work together on the many issues that challenge us.

– – –

On Tuesday, I met with Father George Madathiparampil, a long time friend who was studying for a doctorate at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. and working as an associate pastor at St. Matthew Cathedral during 1970’s, when I was stationed in Washington.


Father George Madathiparampil

Fr. George, vicar general of Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago (which has oversight of all the Syro-Malabar parishes in the United States and Canada) is in Boston for a retreat for the Malayalam-speaking community of New England. More than 200 people — Catholics, non-Catholics and some non-Christians — are expected to attend the retreat, which will take place at St. Mary Parish in Waltham from Nov. 9-11 and be led by Father Joseph Puthenpura, OFM Cap. Fr. Joseph is the vicar provincial and first definitor in St. Joseph Capuchin Province, India.

The Syro-Malabar Community in New England area celebrates Sunday Mass each week at Fernald Center Chapel in Waltham. Father Kuriakose Vadana is their mission director and also assists the Archdiocese by serving as part-time parochial vicar at St. Julia Parish in Weston.

– – –

The New England Conference of directors of Religious education met in Boston on Tuesday.


Celebrating Mass for the group

They gather several times each year to discuss the state of religious education in our dioceses. They rotate their meetings, and every time they invite the bishop of the hosting diocese for a Mass, dinner and a conversation on different topics related with religious education.


We had a lively conversation


The New England group


The Boston group

I am always delighted to take part in those meetings, not only because of the importance of religious education for the Church, but also because it reminds me of my years as a pastor in Washington D.C. having to deal with many of the challenges they are facing to pass the faith to the next generation of Catholics.

– – –

For the photo of the week I leave you with a photo from my visit last week to a community of retired Jesuit priests at the Campion Center in Weston. The photo did not arrive on time for last week’s blog but I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight again the many priests who have devoted their lives to the Gospel in many different ways.


November 2007

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