Last Friday, I invited Metropolitan Methodios to come visit the Pastoral Center for lunch. It was his first time here. This year he is celebrating his 25th anniversary as the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Boston. I look forward to going to his anniversary celebration on Spy Wednesday. Also, he will be visiting our cathedral on Holy Tuesday for the Chrism Mass.
During his visit he gave me a beautiful commemorative book that has been printed to mark the occasion.
Archbishop Methodios is a very close friend of the Church and it is an important relationship for us to foster in order to further Christ’s desire for unity within the Church.
One of the more recent milestones in that relationship was our September 2007 ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome, Istanbul and St. Petersburg.
In the Vatican
The metropolitan and I with several priests who on the pilgrimage outside the Church on Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg
Metropolitan Methodios and I led the trip of about 100 pilgrims which included members of both the Catholic and Greek Orthodox communities as well as several Catholic and Orthodox priests. It was a moving experience and there were many wonderful opportunities to pray together, to share our faith, and to learn more about the wonderful traditions of our Church that was one Church for the first thousand years of Christianity.
Praying together at the Orthodox Church of St. Theodore in Rome
It is our hope that, in the future, we will once again enjoy that same unity we had for the first millennium.
Touring the Haggia Sophia in Istanbul
On the international level, there has been a new patriarch elected in Russia and we trust that will also help to bring about advances in the process of working towards reuniting the Catholic Church with the Orthodox Church in the world.
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That evening, I had dinner with the priests at St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton: Father Brian Smith, Father Brian Flynn and Father Lino Pereira.
We took advantage of the dinner to present Father Brian Smith with his certificate for having participated in the Good Leaders Good Shepherds program. We have had about 50 priests involved in that program and it has been, by all accounts, an excellent tool in enhancing the ministry of our priests and their leadership skills.
Father Lino is a priest from Cape Verde who has been helping at St. Edith Stein. That parish has a very large Cape Verdean community. We are very, very grateful to Father Lino and his bishop for the many years he has spent working with the people there.
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Sunday morning I met Bishop Gregory Mansour, of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn. He was in Boston for a celebration of the Feast of St. Maron at Our Lady of the Cedars Parish in Jamaica Plain. He came to pay me a courtesy visit along the pastor there, Chorbishop Joseph Lahoud.
Bishop Mansour and I have been together on a number of different committees at the Bishops Conference and we were very touched that he would take the time to come and say hello and allow us to be able to celebrate a little bit of St. Maron’s Feast with him.
Bishop Mansour is hoping to start a community of sisters in Boston, and we are encouraging him in his efforts to do that.
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On Sunday, the Office of Black Catholics, in conjunction with St. Patrick’s Parish in Roxbury, organized a liturgical observance of Black History Month.
At the Mass, gospel music was showcased by the choirs and it was an opportunity to reflect on the growing importance of the black Catholic community — not just in our local Church but throughout the world.
The number of Catholics in Africa is very large and has experienced great growth in recent decades. Our Holy Father will be visiting that continent very soon as a sign of the Church’s recognition of the importance of the Church in Africa.
I was very pleased to see that among the exquisite stained glass windows in St. Patrick’s one is dedicated to the baptism of the Ethiopian by St. Philip. It is certainly an uncommon theme for a window and I pointed that out during the homily. I also pointed out the fact that, historically, the first personage to oppose slavery in his writings was St. Patrick.
Slavery, particularly in the United States, caused so much suffering to the black people and the legacy of that has been racism and poverty and discrimination that our black Catholics and black Americans have suffered with over their history in this country.
The election of a black president does mark an important advance in our culture’s evolution away from the racism that was so strong here historically.
Lorna DesRoses, the head of our Office for Black Catholics, did a wonderful job organizing the event and I was glad to see so many people there, including the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver.
I was also happy to be able to concelebrate Mass with Father Russell Best who, because of health problems, was not able to continue at Cathedral High School but who is now living and helping out at St. Patrick’s.
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The following day was President’s Day, so I took advantage of the office being closed to fly to Pittsburgh to attend the funeral of one of our friars, Father Marvin Justi.
Father Marvin, who was one of my professors in the seminary, was a man with great priestly gifts and was beloved by all. He was a man of such great charity and had the gift of communicating joy and a sense of God’s love for the people and he served in the seminary, as pastor and, most recently, as a hospital chaplain. In all of his ministries and in all of his religious life, he touched the lives of so many people and I was happy to be able to be there at his funeral.
The funeral took place in the Parish of St. Cecilia in Rochester. They built a new church there, because the old church was condemned and it was my first opportunity to see the new building. It’s a brand new church but built in a traditional style, with a lovely bell tower.
During my stay I also had an opportunity to meet with the novices there.
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Tuesday, I went to Fontbonne Academy for a LIFT rally. This is my second appearance at LIFT. For two years they have been meeting monthly at the auditorium of Fontbonne Academy.
It was a standing room only event, with young people gathered there for praise and worship, Adoration and the Eucharist. It lasts from about 7-9 p.m. and is a very powerful prayer experience as well as an opportunity for faith formation for our teenagers and young adults. I was asked to talk to them about the saints and I talked for about 45 minutes on the role of the saints in our lives, mentoring us by their example and encouraging us by their friendship and their prayers to lead by discipleship.
I’d like to express my thanks to Father Matt Williams, who has been very instrumental in organizing and supporting the LIFT ministry.
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Wednesday, we had the opportunity to celebrate the funeral Mass for Father Robert Tyrrell at his home parish of St. Agatha’s. Father Tom Foley gave a beautiful reflection on the role of the parish priest. Father Tyrrell’s nephew gave a lovely eulogy at the end of the Mass and the choir was spectacular, as always.
Father Peter Casey, the pastor at St. Agatha’s, was very pleased to show me the renovated downstairs chapel and hall. The last time that I was there was for Tom Flatley’s funeral and I had not seen the latest addition.
Until next week,