Day: December 18, 2009

The 40th Anniversary of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs



I would like to begin this week’s post with some wonderful news.

On December 11, the Holy See announced the beatification of Fray Leopoldo de Alpandeire, a Capuchin lay brother who was a “quester” — his mission was to quest for alms. He did that for 50 years in the city of Granada, Spain. He died in 1956 at the age of 92. Brother Leopoldo is buried at the Capuchin church in Granada.

Unlike John Paul II, who presided over all the beatifications himself, Pope Benedict appoints the Prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes or another cardinal to preside at beatifications.

I am honored to say that the Holy See has asked me to preside at this celebration, which will be held on September 12, 2010.



As I mentioned, Fray Leopoldo was a brother quester. In the Franciscan tradition, some friars are assigned to beg for the community. Particularly in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and Germany, this was a very important function. These friars would go out and usually they would not be begging for money, but for food for the friars.

This mission brought them into people’s homes every day. In those visits, they would teach catechism, pray with the people and visit the sick. These brother questers became very important spiritual fathers in the community because they became so close to the people. The first Capuchin saint was St. Felix of Cantalice, who was also a brother quester. He was called “Brother Deo Gratias,” because whenever people would give him something, he would say, “Deo gratias.”

I first came to know of Fray Leopoldo through Sister Manuela, a Carmelite sister of Vedruna who worked with me for many years in Washington. She is from southern Spain, near Granada. She said her family had a great devotion to him and she talked about pilgrimages to Fray Leopoldo’s tomb.

Interestingly enough, the next person to discuss Fray Leopoldo with me was the wife of Jose Saramago. Jose was at UMass-Dartmouth after he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Portugese literature and I was invited to have lunch with him there. His wife is from Granada, and has great devotion to Fray Leopoldo.

They are expecting a huge celebration because of his 50 years of going door-to-door in the city and being so close to many families. He was certainly a figure very well known and beloved to the people of Granada.

In fact, one of our priests in the archdiocese is actually from Fray Leopoldo’s very parish, Father Israel Rodriguez. He hopes to accompany me and be present at the beatification as well.

I will be very pleased to see the Archbishop of Granada, Francisco Javier Martinez, who is a very dear friend of mine. I know him from his time studying in Washington. Archbishop Martinez, who is very close to the Communion and Liberation movement, has been very active in interfaith outreach to the Muslims who are now very numerous in that part of Spain.

– – –

On the Second Sunday of Advent I celebrated Mass at The Bethany Chapel for the Cardinal’s Leadership Circle of The Catholic Foundation.


Following Mass we had a reception in the lobby of The Pastoral Center.


In addition to providing a home for the ministries and programs of the archdiocese, the lobby of our Pastoral Center provides a wonderful space for hosting special events.


Steve Colella of our Office of New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults spoke about the important work of his office.

He thanked the members of the Leadership Circle for their gifts, which provide essential support to his ministry and all the ministries of the archdiocese.

CLCAdventMass2009_04 With the Driscoll family

CLCAdventMass2009_05With Rick and Colette Crowley

CLCAdventMass2009_01 It was Jack Shaughnessy’s 83rd birthday that day and I joked that this was all just a big surprise party for him!


With C. Michael Daley and Jack McKinnon, along with Damien DeVasto from our staff

This was the third annual Cardinal’s Leadership Circle Advent gathering and is a special occasion to express my appreciation to members of the Leadership Circle for their meaningful gifts, and for us together to give thanks for our blessings and welcome in the Advent season as a community.


– – –

Now, on to some details of my week.

On Thursday evening, I spoke at the 40th anniversary celebration for our Planning Office for Urban Affairs. It was a beautiful reception, held at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square.

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

In the 40 years since Cardinal Cushing founded the Planning Office, the Planning Office has been responsible for creating affordable housing for about 10,000 people. Though I imagine that many Catholics aren’t even aware of this important ministry of the Church, it has been a great service to the community.

We’re very proud of the work that is done there. Msgr. Groden and Lisa Alberghini particularly have made incredible contributions.

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

POUA president Lisa Alberghini, real estate developer and long-time supporter of the office Ed Fish and Msgr. Michael Groden

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

Ed Fish, who was also the chair of the celebration, spoke about the important work of the office …

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

  … and then I added a few words of my own

A great many people were present for the celebration. It was a recognition of what an impact the office’s work has made on the community.

Planning Office for Urban Affairs 40th Anniversary Celebration Dec. 10, 2009, Hotel Commonwealth, Kenmore Square, Boston.
Photo by Gregory L. Tracy

The staff of the Planning Office

Over the years they have created many beautiful properties.

Near the Cathedral, we have the Rollins Square development, which is a beautiful building for people of mixed-income. In fact, many homeless people were given lovely apartments in that building.


POUA_Rollins Square


– – –

On Friday, I had holy hour and dinner with a small group of our seminarians at the Cathedral. In addition to the meetings I have with all the seminarians of the archdiocese, where sometimes I give them a conference and we have a dialogue, we decided to have small groups of seminarians come to the Cathedral for holy hour, dinner, and an opportunity for more intimate conversation.






– – –

Following the Holy Hour I was able to stop in at the celebration for the eve of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was held at the Cathedral.



Bishop Emilio Allué celebrated the Mass. It was a large crowd with several hundred people there. 

Guadalupe_IMG_1327 They even had mariachis


– – –

Later that evening, I attended Catholic Charities’ Greater Boston Christmas Dinner.







There was a wonderful presentation, particularly about the shelters that are run by Catholic Charities and a dance presentation by Cape Verdians from the Teen Center at St. Peter’s.



Members of the Teen Center performed a dance about the Nativity


Kathleen Armstrong accepting the inaugural Richard D. Armstrong, Jr. Award on behalf of her brother, Richard D. Armstrong, Jr.

This year, we inaugurated the Richard D. Armstrong Jr. Award, which honors those who live the Catholic Charities mission through service and an ongoing commitment to caring for those in need.


– – –

On Saturday, I blessed the new parish center at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Chelmsford. The pastor, Father Paul Ritt, is doing an excellent job there.




They have built a magnificent parish center that matches the architecture and the lines of the church, and the brick, and everything. It’s a center with a lot of windows and high ceilings. It’s really a very attractive building. It opens right off the church itself.

StJ_Chelmsford_SJEpc pic for invitation



It’s a wonderful facility.  There are meeting rooms, classrooms, and a gathering space.

Gaudete Sunday was a wonderful time to celebrate this great joy.

– – –

That evening, I went to Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden to mark the third anniversary of the ordinations of Bishops Hennessey and Dooher that took place on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Unfortunately, Bishop Dooher could not be there with us.


Besides Bishop Dooher and Bishop Hennessey, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is also the anniversary of Bishop Elliott Thomas. I was able to speak to him in the Virgin Islands. He was marking the occasion there.

– – –

On Sunday, I went to St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Westford — Father Peter Quinn’s parish. I had a Mass and a reception with the people there.






It is a parish with many young families.




The children of the parish gave me a giant Christmas card

They have an extraordinary music program — a children’s choir and an adult’s choir. It was very beautiful music.






I was also impressed by the use of lights in the church. At different moments, they would light up the pulpit and light up the altar. In the beginning, everything was in darkness for the lighting of the Advent wreath. It was very beautiful.

– – –

The following day, I was in Washington, D.C. for board meetings of the Catholic University of America and the Papal Foundation.

At Catholic University, we are regrettably accepting the resignation of Father David O’Connell who, after 11 years, is moving on to other endeavors. He has been an outstanding president of the university who has done so much to further the university’s Catholic identity and vastly expand its enrollment. One of the tasks that we are beginning to discuss now is the search for a new president for CUA.

Whenever I am on the CUA campus, I meet young people from Boston who are studying there. One young man with bright red hair came up and told me he was studying political science, and I told him to come back because we need him to run for governor in Massachusetts.

The Papal Foundation raises funds for the Holy Father to be able to help in projects throughout the third world, particularly where there are great economic needs.

Projects supported by the foundation assist the poor, sick and infirm. It provides for the construction and operation of shelters and hospitals, as well as the reconstruction of religious places like churches, seminaries, and retreat houses. The foundation also provides relief to victims of natural disasters, assists refugees and migrants, and funds pro-life programs and residences for elderly priests and religious.

Cardinal Bevilaqua serves as the chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The Foundation asks bishops or superiors of religious communities to submit grant requests to the Vatican’s Secretary of State. The Holy Father and the secretary of state, in turn, review the requests, and then submit the final grant requests to the Papal Foundation.

– – –

Unfortunately, the board meeting at the university coincided with the episcopal ordination of Bishop Bob Evans, the new auxiliary bishop of Providence.

I was not able to attend but many of the bishops and priests from Boston were there.


I understand it was an extraordinary celebration. The choir at the Cathedral in Providence is internationally known, and one of its great voices is Terry Donilon, our Secretary for Communications.

– – –

Finally, as we approach Christmas day, I would like to remind you of the importance of the Christmas collection that will be taken at all Masses on Christmas eve and Christmas day for the benefit of the medical and retirement needs of the priests. It is one of the most meaningful ways we can show our gratitude for their service. We have launched a new website to support this collection,, which includes a video Christmas message that I would like you to watch.

Please join me in contributing to the collection, and be assured of my deep appreciation for your generosity and your kindness.

Cardinal Seán

December 2009