Greetings and welcome back,
As I am sure many of you heard in the news, this week the state of Arizona passed a law that makes it a crime under state law to be an undocumented immigrant. Perhaps most disturbingly, the new law allows police to stop anyone they suspect of being undocumented and to demand they show proof of citizenship.
It is disturbing to see such anti-immigrant prejudice being stirred up again in the United States. It was not long ago when we Irish (and other European Catholics) were the objects of this same nativism and there was a negative attitude towards us, our Church, and our culture. We have always been an immigrant Church in the United States, and we must have a special regard for those who are coming to our shores. Certainly, the United States has a right and an obligation to control its borders but, at the same time, we also need just and reasonable immigration laws. The fact that there are millions of undocumented people in the United States is an issue it behooves us to resolve. These people are paying taxes, are part of our work force, and are part of our community. It would be impractical, and indeed impossible, to deport all these people. The only way that we can really heal the situation is by coming up with a path towards legality, but that must be part of a comprehensive immigration program that has reasonable quotas. Sometimes, our quotas do not represent what the work force really needs in the United States.
Having spent my whole life working with immigrants I can say that the Europeans would love to have our problem. The children of immigrants who come to this country — whether they come documented or undocumented — will be Americans, and they will identify with this country, defend it and be part of this body politic.
Unfortunately, the proposals of President Bush and the Kennedy-McCain Bill did not pass. I realize that today’s economic climate makes it more challenging to deal with the issue, but it needs to be dealt with at a national level and with great regard for the social justice questions involved. This issue cannot be solved through the hysterical response of local communities that will cause a great human suffering, discrimination against our own Hispanic citizens and legal residents, and deeper divisions within an already polarized community.
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On Friday, I was in Atlanta for the annual Catholic University of America Cardinal’s Dinner, which raises funds for scholarships for the school.
It’s always a great encouragement to see the fine young Catholic men and women who are coming out of the university.
This year the gala was hosted by Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory. The cardinals and the nuncio were there, as were many members of the Board of Trustees, of which I am a part.
There were a number of students from the Archdiocese of Boston there as well. I was happy to be with them.
One of the students came up and introduced himself to me. I immediately recognized him from his name – Bobby Kilner. He had sung the “Star Spangled Banner” at the dinner.
He is one of nine children, and his father was also one of nine children. His grandparents belonged to my Teams of Our Lady — a Christian family movement — when I was a young priest. His father was one of my students at Catholic University. It was a great joy to see this young man who has just graduated with a degree in philosophy and is very dedicated to his faith.
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This past Friday and Saturday, we had our annual Eucharistic Congress here in Boston at Sacred Heart Church in the North End.
Father Benedict Groeschel was here this year, which was a great honor and a thrill for us. Father, despite his health problems, is still young at heart and loves to have the opportunity to speak to young people. It was a great grace to have him in our midst.
I was the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass on Saturday, and then I joined our young people for dinner and participated in Eucharistic adoration and the procession through the streets of the North End that followed.
The wonderful response of young people who participated in the conferences, service projects, Mass, and procession show the great devotion to the Church and to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that is drawing these young people to this level of participation in the life of our local Church.
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On Sunday, I visited St. Jerome Parish in Weymouth, where I celebrated a Mass and saw renovations they had recently made to the parish school.
I was struck by the work they have done on the school, particularly the SmartBoards they have put together so the students can incorporate even more technology into their learning.
Father Robert Blaney is doing an extraordinary job there, and his mother and some of his family joined us Sunday. It was nice to meet them and the other parish leaders.
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From there, I went to a surprise party for Msgr. George Carlson, pastor of Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury.
He was roasted by his fellow priests, family members and parishioners. He took all the kidding with good sportsmanship.
It was his 70th birthday. They gave him, at one point, a dunce cap to wear and these glasses that had a big 70 on them.
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We had about 1,200 people there for the Mass. It was an opportunity for me to thank them and talk to them about evangelization, and the important role Cursillo has had in my own life and the life of the Church. I also encouraged them to be faithful to their “fourth day.” For those unfamiliar with the term, the “fourth day” makes reference to the Christian call to live faithfully every day as they learn to live the faith during the three days Cursillo retreat.
As usual, the singing was just overwhelming. Someone said to me after the Mass, “What if the singing at our Sunday Masses was like it was here tonight?”
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The following day, I had Confirmations at St. Joseph Parish in Malden.
Father John Mulloy is the parochial vicar there, but he is also the Episcopal Vicar for the region.
The pastor, Father Bill Milligan, said that in the house he’s the boss, and when Father John goes out, Father John is the boss!
They had a lovely Confirmation class. Father Bill, who has been there for many years, said that when he came, these children were in second grade. Now they are all taller than he is!
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On Wednesday morning at our Pastoral Center, I attended the gathering of the pastoral associates from our parishes.
Sister Patricia Boyle has been functioning as our liaison together with Father David Couturier ever since Sister Dorothea retired.
We had a very lovely prayer service and listened to testimony about the wonderful work that is being done.
I said a few words to them towards the end of the gathering
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On Wednesday evening I visited St. Augustine Parish in Andover to participate in their 5th annual Vocations Awareness Week. The parish Vocations Committee, under the guidance of Father Peter Gori and Father Joseph Narog, and assisted by the young adults of the Augustinian Volunteers, has had great success in raising awareness about the reality that vocations are everyone’s business. The committee helps young people to understand that priesthood, religious life, marriage, parenthood and single life are all vocations in the context of our faith.
With the parish Vocation Committee
With Father Richard, Brother John DelCasale, Father Peter Gori and Father Joseph Narog
With Augustinian Volunteers Charles Knibbs, Erika Esposito and Andrew Slike
The parish turned out in great numbers for this event. The church was filled as together we prayed the Augustinian Corona and offered a reflection on my own experience of being called to religious life and priesthood. The Corona (which means “crown”) is an Augustinian devotion, consisting of 13 Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Be’s, that prayerfully meditates on the Apostles’ Creed and is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Mother of Consolation. The friars presented me with my own corona before the prayer service. I noted that it had far fewer beads than the Franciscan rosary we wear with our habit and wondered if they were getting a shortcut on their prayers!
For over three years the Corona has been prayed at St. Augustine Parish each First Friday for the specific intention of an increase in vocations. I am very grateful to Father Gori, all the friars, and the entire parish community for their dedication and commitment to this important work on behalf of the Church.
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We are pleased to announce that Father J. Bryan Hehir, Cabinet Secretary for Social Services and Health Care, has been invited to participate in a symposium hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican this coming October. The topic for the symposium is “Caritas in veritate and the United States” and is the result of a joint collaboration with the Pontifical Council and the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is a ministry of the Holy See dedicated to promoting justice, peace and human rights throughout the world. Pope Benedict XVI, in his latest encyclical, Caritas in veritate, speaks to the issues of “integral human development” and what justice means in today’s global economy.
Father Hehir is an international expert in the area of ethics and foreign policy and the role of religion across the global landscape and in American society. His work has encompassed a broad range of challenges that he has met with distinction, including taking leadership of Catholic Charities USA two days prior to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He very carefully and capably guided that agency through some of our nation’s most difficult hours, ensuring that Charities’ essential services continued to be provided during the crisis. He also served on the staff of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressing issues of both foreign and domestic policy for the Church in the United States.
I am very grateful to Father Hehir for his continued service to the Archdiocese of Boston as priest, cabinet secretary, strategic advisor and professor and for his long standing commitment to pastoral ministry in the prisons, our parishes and with Pro-Life ministries.
Having known Father Hehir for more than 20 years, he was one of the first people I asked to join me when Pope John Paul II appointed me Archbishop of Boston. He has brought a vast understanding of the important place our Church has in society and inspires us with his compassion, vision and fidelity to the work of the Church. His voice brings clarity to our message and mission in serving the Catholic community here in Boston.
We are pleased and honored that Father Hehir has been invited to participate at the Pontifical Council symposium and are confident he will provide many helpful and important contributions to the proceedings.
Until next week,