Hello and welcome,
As I begin this week’s post, our nation, the state of Florida and in particular the community of Parkland are shocked and stunned by the senseless and devastating gun violence at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday. We pray for the victims of the shootings: the students, teachers and school personnel, their families and loved ones, and all who are so terribly impacted.
It is more than tragic that our country is repeatedly experiencing these attacks and that the number of innocent victims, of which one would be too many, continues to climb. As I have previously shared, there can be no rational justification for allowing private citizens to have personal arsenals of assault weapons. As a nation, we can and must do more to prevent these deadly occurrences. We must develop reasonable and effective policies that prevent access to such weapons by persons who have no need of them. We must not blame or stigmatize mental illness, but we must identify the factors that indicate a person is at risk for harming others and make the commitment to achieve better understanding, treatment and care for this terrible illness.
May our Lord, who stands with us to bring strength and consolation to these moments of grief and crisis, guide our deliberations and actions on behalf of the people of our country.
Friday, I was visited by Don Giuseppe Comi, who is a priest of the Archdiocese of Catanzaro-Squillace in Calabria, Italy and a professor at La Pontificia Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Meridionale. He was visiting Boston, so wanted to come and present me with a copy of his new book, “La fede di Gesù” (“The faith of Jesus”).
Friday evening, we continued our regular series of dinners with a group of our seminarians.
Some of the seminarians who were with us this time shared their experience of traveling to Chicago for the inter-seminary Father Pat O’Malley Invitational Basketball Tournament hosted at Mundelein Seminary. The whole tournament was live-streamed, so the men back in Boston were able to watch our men from St. John’s Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Seminary compete.
The team photo of our men from Boston
They said they had a wonderful time and enjoyed the opportunity to meet seminarians from other parts of the country.
Saturday, we held our annual Mass for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families at the Pastoral Center’s Bethany Chapel. Of course, that came only a week after our archdiocesan Mass of Prayer and Penance that I celebrated in Lowell.
At the Mass, we prayed for all of those affected by sexual abuse.
We are so grateful to Vivian Soper and her staff at the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach for organizing the Mass and all that they do in outreach and providing services to victims and their families.
We had a beautiful celebration with very uplifting music, and afterward, there was a reception for the teens.
It has been my experience that every parish that has a Life Teen program has greatly profited from it, bringing enthusiasm and drawing young people into more active participation in the life of the Church. For example, in Hingham, the Life Teen group has participated in mission trips to Haiti, and I understand they have another one planned for later this year.
Life Teen has made a great impact in the community in Hingham, and it was wonderful to be able to celebrate with them.
On Monday, I visited Immaculate Conception Church in Revere to bless the tabernacle that has been installed in the newly renovated chapel of the parish rectory.
I am always very pleased when our priests are able to put a chapel in the rectory so that they have an opportunity for private prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Afterwards, we joined the administrator, Father Daniel Lazo, and the parochial vicar, Father Felipe Gonzalez, for a lovely dinner.
Tuesday, I was visited by Consul General of Portugal in Boston José Rui Velez Caroço, who came to present me with the official documents related to the Grand Cross of Prince Henry the Navigator, which Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa conferred on me last year. I was so grateful to receive it.
He also let me know that President Rebelo de Sousa is planning a trip to the U.S. and hoped that I would be able to meet with him while he is here.
Wednesday was, of course, Ash Wednesday and, as I like to do each year, I celebrated the noontime Mass at the Pastoral Center.
Ash Wednesday is always a very special time in the life of Catholics when people come to begin Lent by receiving their ashes. All Catholics receive the ashes as a sign of penitence and as a reminder of the brevity of our earthly journey.
As usual, there was a very large crowd for the Mass.
That evening I celebrated Mass in Spanish at the Cathedral, which was also very well attended.
I was also very happy to hear that at our new Seaport Shrine in South Boston, Our Lady of Good Voyage, they had 10 Masses and distributed ashes throughout the course of the day.
This year, the start of Lent coincided with St. Valentine’s Day. So, in my homily, I reflected on the similarities and differences between Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday.I’d like to share my homily with you here:
Later that afternoon, I went to Wilmington to attend the wake of Gerald Tully, the brother of Father Gene Tully. Gerald had a long career with the Massachusetts State Police and then went on to teach Criminal Justice. So, in addition to his many family and friends, there was a large number of officers in attendance.
I was very happy to be able to attend and offer my condolences to his wonderful family.
Finally, yesterday we had one of our regular meetings of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. These meetings are an opportunity to share common concerns among the dioceses of Massachusetts, and typically the four bishops of Massachusetts attend along with staff members from each of the dioceses.
Jim Driscoll is the executive director of the MCC and at the meeting, we learned that they had recently brought on a new staff member, Stephanie Acquaviva, as executive assistant.
At this meeting, we were also visited by Father William Leahy and Father John Butler from Boston College who spoke to us about proposals for programs they are developing that will be put at the service of the diocesan priests of the four dioceses of Massachusetts.
Until next week,