This week we were praying for the spiritual success of the Holy Father’s visit to Korea, which was his first trip to Asia.
It was a very joyous and successful trip, unfortunately the Holy Father’s joy was quickly tempered by the death of three of his family members. His nephew, a young argentine physician, coming home from vacation was involved in a serious automobile accident that has put him in critical condition in the hospital and caused the death of his wife and two young children. I know that people throughout the world are praying for the Holy Father and for his family at this time.
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Another very tragic event this week was the murder of a young journalist from New Hampshire, Jim Foley.
He is from a Catholic family that’s very involved in the life of the Church in their parish. There was a very active prayer group praying for his safety in his last months. There are many beautiful accounts of Jim Foley’s devotion to the Rosary, that being a source of strength for him in his captivity. The death of Jim Foley just underscores the violence that so many people are suffering in the Middle East.
Friday, at the Mass for young Catholic adults on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady at St. Leonard’s in the North End, we prayed in a very special way for the Church in Iraq, where so many are fleeing ISIS.
Youth entering St. Leonard’s before the Mass
The very ones that killed Jim Foley are also killing religious minorities there, enslaving the women, and have marked the houses of Christians — giving them just hours to decide whether they would convert to Islam or abandon their homes. So, Christians have been leaving in droves from the traditionally Christian parts of Iraq where there have been Catholics since the beginning of Christianity. Now they are being displaced because of this fanatical persecution of the Church by ISIS and people who share their worldview. The Archdiocese will be taking up a collection to help the Christian refugees there, and we urge everyone to continue praying for peaceful solutions in that part of the world. At the Mass at St. Leonard’s, Mother Olga spoke about the situation in Iraq.
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The next day, I met with a group of leaders from our local Iraqi Catholic community.
The priest, Father Bassim Shoni, Chaplain to the Iraqi Community of Boston, was there with them.
It’s very, very disturbing. All of them have families who have been displaced and who have lost their homes and all of their possessions. Their lives have been in danger.
Later that day, they had a special Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes parish in Newton to pray and offer support for Iraqi Christians. Father Michael Harrington, director of our Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity, presided at that Mass
At the end of the Mass they processed outside to offer their intentions before the Virgin Mary.
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On Sunday I went to Brockton to visit the Sisters of Jesus Crucified, a Lithuanian order of sisters that has been in the Archdiocese for many years and has run schools and a nursing home. They were having their chapter, and I always preside over the installation of their provincial superiors.
So, we had the installation of the three sisters — the major superior and the two councilors. It’s a very small community. There are very few sisters left in the world. That’s the only convent they have. Some of these communities that were founded for ethnic groups never opened beyond that ethnic group and so when the language within that group was gone the vocations kind of dried up.
Part of their ministry of hospitality has been taking people in and they have Dominican sisters from Vietnam with them who are learning English.
All of the themes in their chapel represent the passion and the crucifixion.
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Every year we have a meeting and retreat for the bishops of the New England Region at Saint Edmund’s on Enders Island. That’s the Hartford and the Boston provinces.
This time we had a number of new bishops in attendance. Of course, Bishop Deeley is the new Bishop of Portland, Maine. He was there, and also Bishop Rozanski who was just installed in Springfield, as well as the new Archbishop of Hartford Leonard Blair and the new and future Bishop of Fall River, Bishop da Cunha.
Msgr. James Moroney preached the retreat. There were almost 20 bishops there. It’s always a very wonderful week. We were blessed with great weather, and the retreat house staff takes such good care of the grounds.
They also have a number of ministries promoting the arts. I took some pictures of the stained glass windows in the sacristy — all on a resurrection theme.
They also do a lot of work with people suffering from addictions. They have a recovery residence, The Saint Maximilian Kolbe Sober Living Community. They told me that Saint Maximilian Kolbe has become known as the patron saint of addicts, which I did not know.
They have this beautiful brochure about their ministry with great photos and more information.
Until my next post.