Hello and welcome!
Last Friday evening, I had one of my occasional gatherings with our seminarians. This time, I met with the group in their 4th year of theology, as well as those in their pastoral year.
As we usually do, we met for Vespers followed by dinner and a time of conversation at the Cathedral.
Among the topics we discussed was the Holy Father’s visit. Many of the seminarians had seen him at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. during the canonization of St. Junipero Serra.
It’s always a great pleasure to be able to be together with our seminarians and to hear about their activities and their experience of the seminary.
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Saturday morning, I had the joy of ordaining 12 men as permanent deacons at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross: Deacons Timothy Booker, Paul Carroll, Nicolas Cruz, Joseph Dorlus, James Kearney, Kelley McCormick, Jonathan Mosley, John Murray, Charles Rossignol, Jose Torres, Roger Vierra, and Thomas Walsh.
The ministry of the permanent deacon was one of the innovations of the Second Vatican Council to return to the practice of the Early Church. As many of you may know, I used to run the diaconal program for the Hispanic candidates when I was in Washington and I have always had a profound appreciation for the contribution of permanent deacons to the ministry of the Church.
With the renewed diaconate program in the archdiocese, we have a new ordination class every year, which is a great blessing for us. I am particularly happy that the ordination class this year included a deacon from the Haitian community as well as two deacons from the Hispanic community, reflecting the cultural diversity of our archdiocese.
We are very grateful to Monsignor Bill Fay, the new acting director of our Permanent Diaconate Office, who stepped in to replace Deacon Dan Burns who recently stepped down as director. We are also very grateful to Deacon Burns and all those who were part of the formation program for our permanent deacons and to the families in parishes that support these men during their period of formation and in their ministries throughout the archdiocese.
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Then, in the afternoon, I went to St. Mary’s in West Quincy for the celebration of the 175th anniversary of their parish. St. Mary’s is one of the older parishes in the archdiocese, and it is something of the mother parish for the South Shore.
We were joined by a number of people connected to the parish including Quincy Mayor Koch.
The parish has such a rich history. I understand it was built for the Irish workers who were working in the stone quarries around Quincy — this was of course before the Potato Famine and the huge influx of Irish immigrants.
The original church was built for $4,000 in 1840. (They are restoring the current church’s belltower right now, so I told them they should try to get that contractor again!) I also discovered in history of the diocese that former President John Quincy Adams was present at the dedication of the original church.
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Sunday morning, I went to St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury for a Mass to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of their patron saint. (Theirs is the only parish in the archdiocese named in honor of St. Theresa.)
I was joined for the celebration by Bishop Arthur Kennedy and Bishop Emilio Allue.
In my homily I reminded the people that my titular church in Rome is the Carmelite church with the famous statue of St. Theresa in Ecstasy.
I also spoke a little about the life of St. Theresa. As a doctor of the Church, her writings have been very important in developing the spiritual life of many people. Her theology is a theology that was lived and as I said, saints don’t just know about God they know God. St. Theresa has helped many people discover that path of interiority and prayer that helps them to know God.
One of the prayers that has helped people do that for many, many years is known as St. Theresa’s Bookmark, which goes like this:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
It is a very beautiful prayer that can be very consoling.
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Then, Sunday afternoon we had the blessing of five new bells that will hang in the Cathedral the Holy Cross. The bells are coming to the Cathedral from Holy Trinity Church, which was the German parish in Boston.
There is a tradition in the Church of naming important bells, and so as we blessed them we gave each of the bells a name. The largest of the bells was given the name of St. Gabriel, because one of the prayers most associated with the ringing of church bells is the praying of the Angelus each day at noon. Another was named for St. Therese of Lisieux, the patroness of the missions, because these bells have a mission to reach out to the neighborhood and call people to the Eucharist. Another was named for St. Boniface, the patron saint of Germany, because the original home of the bells was Holy Trinity Church, which was the traditional parish of German Catholics in Boston. The fourth was named for St. Joseph, the patron saint of the Universal Church. And the last was named for St. Helena who discovered the relics of the Holy Cross because, of course, the bells will hang in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
We are so grateful to all those who supported this effort to bring these bells to our Cathedral.
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On Monday we had our first meeting after the summer of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. All four bishops of Massachusetts were there. We received updates on different pieces of legislation with a social dimension as well as report on issues related to Catholic schools.
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Tuesday, we had our annual Peter Lynch Scholars induction Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton.
This is the sixth year they have awarded the scholarship. Each Catholic elementary school selects their Lynch scholars based on their academic success and their involvement in the community and other activities. This year, they presented over 180 scholarships.
We offered the Mass for Carolyn Lynch and for her family. Throughout her life, Carolyn made an invaluable contribution making Catholic education available to so many. She will be sorely missed and we look forward to celebrating a Memorial Mass with her family and friends in the very near future.
At the end of the Mass, our Superintendent of Schools Kathy Mears and the director of the Catholic Schools Foundation Mike Reardon addressed the young people.
Our Lady Help of Christians is quite a large church and it was almost full, which is just an indication of how much has been accomplished by the Catholic Schools Foundation and the Inner City Scholarship Fund.
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Tuesday afternoon, as sort of a preface for the Year of Mercy, we held a special convocation for our priests at St. Julia’s in Weston. Father Bryan Hehir gave a wonderful presentation on the Holy Father’s visit to the United States. Also, among other things, we discussed the upcoming Year of Mercy, the new regulations on annulments, and we also had a report on child protection in the archdiocese.
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Wednesday at noon I celebrated a Memorial Mass for Tom and Mary Shields here at the Pastoral Center. They were, of course, great supporters of Catholic education and close friends of the archdiocese, so I was happy to celebrate a mass for their family.
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Then, in the afternoon I was visited by the Betania Choir.
The choir is mainly composed of the children and grandchildren and in-laws of Maria Esperanza, the visionary from Betania, Venezuela whose cause for canonization has been introduced.
Father Richard Clancy accompanied them along with Rose Patek. Rose has made an important contribution to the spiritual life of people in our archdiocese through the center and to the activities that she has supported.
They performed a few numbers for us which were very beautiful and touching.
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Wednesday night was the annual Cathedral High School Adopt-a-Student Foundation banquet at the Seaport Hotel.
During the evening they honored the men who established the Adopt-a-Student Foundation: Jim Curvey, John Drew, and John Remondi. They founded the organization 25 years ago, and I think we can safely say that without their efforts the school probably would not exist today.
But, not only is it still open, it is thriving – with modern renovations such as the new gym, new labs and a new roof.
For me, this picture from the program really tells the story of what is happening at Cathedral High.
It says: “For the last 12 years, 100% of CHS [Cathedral High School] seniors have graduated and were accepted into college.” Not only that, but something like 85% of Cathedral High graduates go on to graduate from a four year college. The achievement is just remarkable.
Until next week,