Hello and welcome!
It’s hard to believe, but it was exactly 10 years ago this week that I began this blog, as I returned to Rome after being made a cardinal to take possession of my titular church, Santa Maria Della Vittoria.
In fact, the first real event that I shared with you was the Mass I celebrated for St. Padre Pio on his feast day in San Giovanni Rotondo. How providential it is that this week had the relic of his heart visit the archdiocese and it will be present as I celebrates Mass on his feast day at the cathedral.
I remain grateful to Father Brian Bachand and Kevin Shea who were with me on that trip and were a great help in those first days helping me get the hang of what was then for me an entirely new way of communicating.
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Sunday morning, the Venezuelan community gathered at the Cathedral for the Mass of Our Lady of Caramoto, the Patroness of Venezuela. The Mass was celebrated by Father Alessandro Lopez Cardinale, but I was able be present and to greet the people.
Of course, there were many prayers offered for the situation in Venezuela, which is very severe, with many going without food and basic necessities. It’s just a very difficult time in the life of that country, so it was nice to be able to join with them as they celebrated their patronal feast.
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Later that morning at the cathedral, I celebrated a special Jubilee Year of Mercy Mass for Catechists and Catholic school teachers.
The Mass was an opportunity to thank our catechists and Catholic school teachers, who have such an important mission of passing on the faith and forming our young people in the life of discipleship. In addition to my own remarks in the homily, at the end of the Mass our superintendent for Catholic Schools, Kathy Mears, and the Director of our Office of Pastoral Planning, Father Paul Soper, also extended words of gratitude to the catechists and teachers.
As we have done with the other Jubilee Year Masses, we concluded with a procession out the main doors of the Cathedral and back in through the Holy Door of Mercy.
I was very happy for the opportunity to be with them and thank them for their important work.
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Also Sunday, there two jubilee celebrations that I was unable to attend, but would like to acknowledge.
First, at St. Cecilia’s Church in Boston, Father Jim Flavin, Episcopal Vicar for the Central Region, Father John Unni, Pastor of St. Cecilia’s, many concelebrating priests, friends of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master and the community at the parish Sunday evening Mass gathered together to celebrate anniversaries of religious profession for Sister Gioviana, 70 years; Sister Lucille, 40 years; Sister Luce, 50 years.
The Sister Disciples have been an important pastoral presence in the Archdiocese of Boston for many years, praying for our priests and our people, providing liturgical goods through their shops on West Street in Boston and at the Pastoral Center and providing very helpful liturgical support at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and at the Pastoral Center. We congratulate Sisters Gioviana, Lucille and Luce on their anniversaries and look forward to many years of blessing as the community continues its ministry in the archdiocese.
Also that afternoon, Bishop Emilio Allue celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood and his 20th anniversary as a Bishop at St. Teresa’s in West Roxbury.
We also want to congratulate him on these wonderful milestones!
The Salesian Provincial, Father Steve Shafran, was present for the celebration of Bishop Allue’s jubilee and took occasion of his visit to Boston to pay me a visit at the cathedral on Monday.
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Also on Monday, we had one of our quarterly board meetings of St. John’s Seminary. The news from the seminary is always encouraging, but at this meeting we had the special joy of celebrating the upcoming purchase of the seminary annex from Boston College.
Of the 70 major seminaries in the United States, St. John’s is now the fifth-largest, so we need more space for our seminarians. It is our intention that that part of the seminary will now be refurbished for rooms, classrooms and other facilities to accommodate the expanding enrollment at St. John’s.
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Tuesday, we had our first regular meeting of the presbyteral Council after the summer. During the meeting we welcomed the auxiliary bishops back from their week-long training in Rome.
The presbyteral Council is such an important way of involving the priests of the archdiocese, through the vicariate meetings, in the important decisions and policies that are enacted in the archdiocese. We are, as always, so grateful to the priests who give of their time to participate in this very important endeavor.
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Tuesday evening, the relic of the heart of St. Padre Pio arrived at the Cathedral, brought by a group of Capuchins from St. Padre Pio’s shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.
Since they arrived early in the afternoon, they had an opportunity to see a little bit of the city of Boston.
One of the Friars happens to be a cousin of Father Antonio Nardoianni, the pastor of St. Leonard’s Church in the North End. Father Antonio joined us for a quiet dinner at the Cathedral, because the Friars had to be up very early to take the relic to its first stop in the archdiocese, Immaculate Conception Church in Lowell.
From there, it went to St. Leonard’s Church, where Bishop John Dooher celebrated Mass.
Then, yesterday morning until the afternoon, the relic was at the Pastoral Center, where Bishop Uglietto celebrated Mass, before being brought to the cathedral in the evening.
Today, Bishop Reed celebrated the Mass at 9 a.m. and I will celebrate the Mass tonight to conclude the visit.
We are amazed at how much enthusiasm the relics have generated. People have come from near and far, and every venue the relic has visited has experienced huge crowds of the faithful. Certainly, this is in line with my experience last February in Rome when I was I present when Padre Pio and St. Leopold were brought to St. Peter’s Basilica at the invitation of Pope Francis. Hundreds of thousands of people came to visit the relics there.
This is part of our observance of the Year of Mercy to have Padre Pio here, who is such a strong figure of mercy, both in the confessional where he spent all day, every day, and also in helping start one of the largest hospitals in Europe, in an area of Italy where people are woefully underserved. So, he really is a symbol of mercy, both spiritual and corporal. In his stigmata, he is a living crucifix, and that has captured the Catholic imagination making him one of the most popular saints in modern history.
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On Wednesday morning, I visited Austin Prep in Reading to bless their new multipurpose center, Meeli Hall.
I was very delighted to be there. I shared with the students that in my former life I was a high school teacher for a year at Augustinian school in Washington, D.C. We thanked the Augustinians for their wonderful work there and we are so delighted that the headmaster, Dr. James Hickey, who is a member of the order of Malta, is carrying on the Augustinian tradition there.
Following the blessing of the new hall, there was a reception at which I had an opportunity to meet many of the faculty and students.
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And, of course, yesterday was our Annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. As always it was quite a grand affair, which is so vital in helping to meet the needs of our priests.
We are so grateful to our dinner chairs, Chuck and Gloria Clough; Joe D’Arrigo and all his staff at the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust; and all those who worked so hard to make this year’s dinner such a wonderful success.
We are very grateful to this year’s keynote speaker Tim Shriver who of course has done so much with the Special Olympics and has been supportive of our efforts in opposing physician-assisted suicide. He gave just an inspiring talk on his faith, his family and his work with the Special Olympics.
We are very grateful that he was willing to come and give his witness to support the priests of the archdiocese.
It was a wonderful event and we thank all those who came out to show their love and support for our priests!
Until next week,