Hello and welcome!
As regular readers will remember, for much of the last couple of weeks I had been in Rome for meetings with the Holy Father in relation to the work of the C9 Council of Cardinals and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Those meetings concluded over the weekend, but before I departed Rome, I had an opportunity to attend the ceremony for the 201st anniversary of the Gendarmerie of the Vatican.
It was a beautiful celebration held in the Vatican Gardens with members of the gendarme and their very impressive band.
At that celebration, I had the chance to meet Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil. Father Tom, who is originally from India, was held captive by ISIS for more than 18 months before being released a few weeks ago. Many may recall the story of his kidnapping during an attack on a nursing home run by the Sisters of Charity in Yemen. Sadly, a number of people we killed in the attack, including four sisters.
With Father Tom and Archbishop Carballo, the Secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
As I mentioned, my meetings concluded over the weekend and I arrived back in Boston on Monday.
On Tuesday, I was visited by Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, who was in Boston as part of a series of visits to cities in the U.S. and Canada.
With Cardinal Zen and Msgr. Bill Fay, the director of our Office of the Pontifical Mission Societies
Of course, he is a very outspoken prelate on behalf of human rights and freedom of the Church in China and he wanted to share with me some of his concerns about the situation of the Church in Hong Kong and China.
During our visit he gave me this lovely image of the Madonna.
On Wednesday morning, I went to St. Mary’s Church in Lynn for a Mass to celebrate the inauguration of the Holy Father’s new Share The Journey campaign.
Share the Journey, which the Holy Father announced at his general audience at the Vatican earlier that day, is an initiative that will run over the next couple of years and is designed to help people come to know and understand the situation of refugees and migrants through personal encounters and experiences.
We chose Lynn for the local launch of the initiative because it is such a diverse city, and home to so many different immigrant communities.
At the Mass we were joined by members of the local community who hail from a number of different countries.
We were also very pleased to be joined by the students of the three Catholic schools in Lynn – Sacred Heart, Pius V, and St. Mary’s High School.
In my homily, I spoke about the experience of refugees during the World War II, when many refugees were turned away from the United States and European countries. Tragically, many of those refugees later perished in concentration camps because no country would accept them.
I also spoke about our ideals expressed in Emma Lazarus’s poem on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty professing that we are a country that is prepared to receive refugees who are fleeing from oppression, tyranny and hunger.
The Holy Father is inviting us, during this time, to consider our own personal calling to be a welcoming community.
Wednesday evening, I went to Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary for their annual Lawn Party, which is always just a wonderful event. With over 350 people attending, this was the largest crowd the event has ever seen!
In addition to many supporters of the seminary and priest alumni, we were also joined by former rectors Father Bill Palardy, Msgr. Connie McRae, and Bishop Peter Uglietto.
John and Julie Corcoran and their family once chaired the Lawn Party this year.
As they do each year, two seminarians were invited to share the stories of their vocation with us.
This year, we heard from Deacon Maurice Culver, who is a retired physician and Navy officer, and from Cory Bassett-Tirrell who used to work in the funeral industry and is a convert to Catholicism. They both gave just inspiring talks.
Of course, we also heard from the rector of Pope John Seminary, Father Brian Kiely. He was very happy to announce that the seminary is filled and is thriving.
Then, last night, we had our annual Celebration of the Priesthood Dinner at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. This was our ninth annual dinner held to support the needs of our active and retired priests.
I am so pleased to say that this was the largest turnout we’ve ever seen for the dinner, with almost 1,700 people in attendance.
Before the dinner, we were treated to a performance by the archdiocese’s Black Catholic Choir.
And, once again this year, Bishop Robert Reed served as our very capable emcee.
We also heard remarks by Clergy Fund Chairman John Kaneb and dinner co-chairs John and Cathy White.John Kaneb
Cathy and John White
We were very blessed to have actress Roma Downey as our featured speaker of the evening. She offered just an extraordinary witness talk about her own life, her faith. Her brother is a priest in Ireland and she and her husband do such important work promoting the message of faith and gospel values through the media.
Each year, there is which is shown during the dinner highlighting the very important work our priests do. This year it focused on three priests: Fathers Anthony Cusack, Stephen Donohoe and Dick DeVeer. I thought it was just inspiring video and I would like to share it with you here:
Also, I wanted to share this video with you of Roma singing a number with the Black Catholic Choir backstage:
We are so grateful to John and Cathy White, John Kaneb, Joe D’Arrigo, the members of the dinner committee and all the staff of the Clergy Funds and archdiocese who worked so hard to make the evening a great success.
Finally, this morning, I went to Laboure College to celebrate a Mass to mark their 125th anniversary.
As I always like to point out, Jesus’s first priority (at least according to the space dedicated to it in the Gospels) is care for the sick.
This is a ministry that the Sisters of Charity started over a century ago and has trained thousands of people for healthcare work and ministries of mercy.
They gave me a tour of the facilities and I was able to meet with many students and teachers. It was wonderful to be there and see the type of work they do first-hand.
Finally, though this is a week of many important events, it is also a week with some important feast days.
Today is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Rafael so I thought to share this picture with you of Castel Sant’Angelo which has St. Michael at its top.
And, on Sunday, we will celebrate the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux who is beloved by so many because of her meekness and life of humble service.
Until next week,