Hello and welcome!
As I have mentioned in some of my recent posts, for much of the first half of this month I have been travelling quite a bit for my meetings with the Holy Father and visits with my family. As such, I was unable to make a full blog post each week, just snippets here and there. So, I want to begin by thanking Fathers Karlo Hocurscak, Mark Storey, Michael Drea for their participation in the blog while I was in Rome and away.
Now that I’m back to my first full post in a while, I want to begin by catching up a little bit.
Earlier this week I met for first time with our new Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Kathleen Mears, whose appointment we announced today.
Our meeting was the final step of the review process for her candidacy. It was very clear to me that in addition to her marriage and her family, Catholic education is Mrs. Mears’ vocation and her passion. I am confident that we will be greatly blessed by her commitment to this important work. Also, I wish to further share my gratitude to Bishop Uglietto, Mr. Jack Regan and all the members of the Search Committee for the many, many hours given to their work and for bringing forth such an outstanding candidate.
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During my time away, the Holy Father also made a number of changes in the Boston Province.
Here in the archdiocese, he recently accepted Bishop Walter Edyvean’s retirement.
We are very, very grateful for the outstanding and generous service he has provided to the Church over the years and we know he will continue to be a presence in the archdiocese. We wish him health and Godspeed in these years of retirement.
We have also had two new bishops named to the province. In addition to Bishop Edyvean, Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell and Fall River Bishop George Coleman have also begun their retirements.
We are very grateful for their presence in the province and the ministry they have so generously provided to God’s people. We look forward to the installation of their successors, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski for Springfield and Bishop Edgar da Cunha for Fall River.
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As you know, I am unable to discuss much of what occurs in my meetings in Rome, but one thing I did want to share was how I came to see this particular fountain, called the Galea Fountain.
During the time when I was meeting with the Holy Father and the council of cardinals, one evening I went to dinner with Msgr. John Abruzzese, who is from the archdiocese and is working in the Synod of Bishops. And after dinner, he wanted to show us this fountain in the Vatican that I had never seen before. In fact, I did not even know it existed. It sits behind the Vatican Museums in an area where people seldom go.
He told me there are 100 fountains in the Vatican but of all of the fountains, this is the most unusual, with this huge ship sitting in the middle – it is practically life-sized! So I wanted to share this with all of the readers of my blog and tell you that, if you are ever visiting the Vatican, I hope you get a chance to see it in person.
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This year, the Capuchin province of St. Augustine, of which I am a member, had our profession ceremony on Saturday, July 19. (For many years our profession services were always held on the feast of St. Bonaventure, which was July 14 but now, since the liturgists have changed the feast day to the 15th, I tell people that I was professed on Bastille Day!)
We had the profession of our seven novices who just completed their novitiate and for the ceremony we use the Chapel of the Franciscan Sisters of Mount Alvernia who have always been very close to the Friars. They work in many of the parishes that we work in and I believe their order also has German roots, so there was that connection as well.
There were about 70 or 80 Friars there to witness the event and I was edified to be one of them.
It is an opportunity for all of us to renew our vows as we accompany these men in their life of consecration and we pray that the Lord will grant them perseverance in their vocations. We also pray that the Lord will continue to bless us with young men who want to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis.
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Sunday I visited St. Patrick’s Manor to visit Bishop John Boles and Bishop Frank Irwin, who are in residence there. We were greeted by Sister Bridget who is always so gracious.
I want to share with you this picture of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which is in the hallway there and think is very beautiful.
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Monday, I paid a visit to Sunset Point Camp in Hull, which is run by Catholic Charities. This is a summer camp that serves over 400 inner-city children who are able to spend a wonderful vacation at the shore. Thanks to the generosity of the Flatley family the camp has been refurbished and I was there to bless the newly restored camp.
During my visit, the children sang songs for us and I was able to take a tour where I met many of the volunteers, counselors and supporters of the camp who all do so much to serve these children.
We are grateful to camp director Brian Ahl, Catholic Charities president Debbie Rambo and Beth chambers who is the regional director for Catholic Charities.
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On Tuesday, I went to Merrimack College for dinner with the new Augustinian provincial, Father Michael Di Gregorio, and Father Bill Garland, who is a very close friend of mine. It was a chance to meet with the new provincial and thank him for the wonderful contribution that the Friars make to the life of the archdiocese.
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On Wednesday, I met with Lisa Alberghini and Bill Grogan from the Planning Office for Urban Affairs at their annual meeting to discuss the great work and accomplishments of POUA over the past year.
POUA, one of the justice ministries of the archdiocese, has played an important role in developing permanent affordable housing for families and people in need. Lisa explained the leadership and advocacy roles that POUA has played in working to eliminate homelessness, prevent foreclosures, enable residents to have access to housing and repeal the casino law.
POUA recently completed the development of 51 units of affordable family housing on the former St. Joseph’s Parish property in Salem, which will provide decent, affordable housing in the Latino immigrant neighborhood.
Lisa also talked about POUA’s partnership with St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children and Holy Family Parish in Dorchester to develop 80 units of affordable family housing, with 20 units for homeless families. This special partnership of three Archdiocesan ministries combines their missions, expertise and commitment to serve the poor. Construction at the development looks great and is expected to be completed in 2015.
Lisa also updated me on some of POUA’s current development work, including its work with St. Francis House on a significant development in Boston, and its work with the Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and Sorrowful Mother in Brockton on the potential redevelopment of their campus into housing. The increased need for affordable housing and the limited resources to develop housing make the work of POUA all the more critical and important.
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That evening, I attended a meeting of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management at the Boston College Club.
They had a dinner for Catholic philanthropists from throughout the country during which they spoke about ways that they could contribute to best business practices in the church and help the church in the area of administration, transparency and efficiency.
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On Thursday I was very happy be joined for lunch by my cousin Suzy O’Malley Stevens and her husband Dr. Mark Stevens and one of their children, Brooke, who is a tennis champion.
They were in town because Brooke was taking part in a high school tennis championship being held at Harvard and they stopped by for a visit. As always, it was lovely to be able to see them again.
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I was very touched to see the news this week of a meeting on Thursday between Pope Francis and Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Sudan because of her faith. She fled Sudan with her daughter and her husband and made her first stop in Rome, where she had the opportunity to meet the Pope. He thanked her for her courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith. Meriam’s commitment to her faith is inspirational, and it should encourage us to deeper faith and a willingness to share that faith with others.
Lastly, I ask you to join me in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are suffering greatly these days because of their faith. I’m sure many of you have watched the news coming out of Iraq, particularly out of Mosul where there are very few Christians left after being forced out by Islamic jihadists. Christians have lived in Mosul, which is Iraq’s second largest city, for nearly two thousand years. Now convents, monasteries and churches have all been evacuated and Christian families are being forced out because of their faith.
Last Sunday Pope Francis offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who are “persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything with them.” He also called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts. Please join me in praying for our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq: we stand in solidarity with them, and we suffer with them, for as scripture says – when one member of the body suffers, all suffer.
Until next week,