Hello and welcome!
Like all of you, I am sure, I have been closely watching events surrounding the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. The announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson has occasioned great civil unrest, not only in Ferguson but also throughout the country, including demonstrations right here in Boston. The whole episode almost seems like a throwback to a time in our history when civil rights issues were constantly before us.
We have made great progress in the area of civil rights and race relations, but there are still things that need to be done, and the mistrust and pain surrounding this event demonstrates the need for us to continue to work for racial justice and harmony in our country.
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This week, our Office for Black Catholics held their annual Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner, which is always a beautiful event that celebrates the gifts of our Black Catholic Community.
The evening’s honorees, Lorraine Smith and Lorna DeRoses, are both extraordinary women who were recognized for their years of faithful service.
Presenting Lorna with her award
Monsignor Ray East of Washington D.C. gave a stirring keynote address at the dinner.
I knew Father Ray when he was a seminarian. I still remember his ordination well, and how enthused and pleased everyone was. We knew even then that his ministry would make a difference – and it certainly has.
The Archdiocesan Black Catholic Choir, under the direction of Meyer Chambers, performed for us.
There was also a group of young adults from St. Angela’s that sang, as well.
It was a wonderful evening and underscored the kind of respect and appreciation that needs to exist in our community.
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On Thursday, I went to Our Lady of Providence Seminary for a Mass and dinner. We have a number of young men from Boston studying there.
Our Lady of Providence is a wonderful institution that serves not just the Diocese of Providence, but various dioceses throughout New England. It is a place where college seminarians receive their priestly formation and, at the same time, are receiving academic formation most often at Providence College, which is an excellent Dominican institution.
The seminarians prepared a beautiful Mass for us and they had a great schola.
Providence auxiliary Bishop Robert Evans was there with us along with the rector, Father Christopher Mahar, and the priests on the formation staff.
Afterwards we had an opportunity to have dinner and socialize with the seminarians.
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Friday, we were very pleased to hold the groundbreaking for a new church that is going to be built in Boston’s Seaport District, which is an area of the city that is developing very quickly.
It is an area that business and thousands of people are moving into and, very happily, the Church’s presence in that neighborhood will be guaranteed by the construction of the new chapel.
This new chapel will certainly be an upgraded version of the present chapel located on Northern Avenue, which was founded 60 years ago by Cardinal Richard Cushing to serve the fishermen, sailors and longshoremen working on the waterfront.
The nautical themes that characterize the original chapel will also be incorporated into this new church, which will be located in a very visible and accessible spot in the Seaport area.
We were joined the dedication by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and John Hynes of Boston Global Inc., whose grandfather was the mayor Boston and was present with Cardinal Cushing for the groundbreaking of the original Chapel.
Both the mayor and John gave very stirring talks supporting this project and underscoring how important it is going to be for the city.
Before offering a blessing, I made remarks, as well.
Despite the cold weather, the groundbreaking was very well attended. It was great to see the huge turnout and the great enthusiasm of the people.
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That evening was the Community Leadership Award Dinner and Gala to benefit the Franciscan Hospital for Children.
During the evening, they presented awards to Dr. James Mandell, who is the former CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, and Justin Ith, a 16 year old boy from Revere who received the hospital’s Profile in Children’s Courage Award.
Justin Ith accepting his award
We are very proud of the wonderful work that Franciscan Hospital for Children is doing and I was happy to be able to give the invocation and to thank the supporters and benefactors of the hospital, which does such extraordinary work providing care and rehabilitation for children with a range of very difficult health issues.
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This year’s celebration of candidacy for men preparing for the permanent diaconate was held Saturday, during a Vigil Mass of the Feast of Christ the King in the Cathedral’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel. This year we had seven candidates: Carlos DeSousa, Alan Doty, Robert J. Dourney, Charles Landry, Van-Vuong Nguyen, Elcio dos Santos and Brian Shea.
Deacon Dan Burns and Deacon Pat Guerrini and Sister Mary Reardon from our Office of the Permanent Diaconate were there with us for the celebration. We were also joined by Father Charlie Hughes, the pastor of St. Anthony’s in Lowell who had one of his parishioners receiving candidacy.
We are very grateful that the diaconate program is now presenting a new class each year for ordination and that this year’s class exhibits the ethnic diversity that we need to be able to serve the various linguistic groups in our archdiocese.
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This weekend, there was a gathering in Boston of around 200 members of the Neocatechumenal Way who are part of a new experience of evangelization in the Church aimed at reaching the far away and the unchurched.
As part of this effort, a group of several missionary families, some with many children, are sent together with a priest to form a small faith community in difficult areas that are, for example, poor or very secularized. They do one-on-one evangelization and visit the people in their neighborhoods. The goal is to reach those who are so far away from the Church that they would not respond to more traditional outreach efforts.
Currently in the United States, there are six “Missio ad Gentes” communities — three of them here in Boston, two in Philadelphia and one in Brooklyn, N.Y. It is a joy to see how these families are carrying out the message of Pope Francis to go out to the streets to announce the Gospel.
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As we have each year since our Bicentennial Celebration, we observed the Feast of Christ the King by awarding our Cheverus Medal to about 100 recipients chosen from the parishes, regions and different sectors of the archdiocese.
The medal is given to people who have given generous years of service to the community — these are the people without whom the life of the Church would be impossible, because of their faithful involvement over such a long period of time.
The Cathedral was filled for the occasion and we were joined by many thousands more through the CatholicTV Network.
It is always a wonderful event and afterwards there was a reception at Cathedral high school. It was beautiful to see families gathering around those who receive the Cheverus Medal.
As I mentioned in my remarks, the medal bears the image of Gilbert Stewart’s portrait of Bishop Cheverus, our first Bishop of Boston, and it also has his motto taken from the Gospel of St. John: “Let us love one another”.
Certainly, our recipients are people who love Christ, love their brothers and sisters in the faith, and are so generous in serving the Church. We were happy to have this opportunity around the time of Thanksgiving to publicly thank them, and thank God for the gift of their lives.
You can hear my entire homily here:
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Finally, I want to conclude this week by inviting all of you to join me in accompanying the Holy Father in prayer, as he travels to Istanbul to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to further deepen the ties of respect and affection that join the Catholic Church to the Orthodox Churches.
As we were all poised to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am very happy that I will be with many members of my family tomorrow. I offer Thanksgiving for all of you, and all the priests, deacons, religious and faithful people of the Archdiocese of Boston, whose faith and fidelity is a source of strength to all of us.
Until next week,