Hello and welcome!
Last Friday, I went to Atlanta to participate in their annual Eucharistic Congress.
This is a 24-year tradition for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. It was started by Archbishop John Donoghue and Archbishop Wilton Gregory has continued and augmented this wonderful event, which has grown to about 30,000 participants.
It is a two-day event that includes different language tracks, exhibitors and number of different speakers, which this year included Bishop Robert Barron, our own Mother Olga, and Catholic author and speaker Stephen K. Ray.
It certainly is the largest Eucharistic Congress in the country and it is very encouraging that it is held annually. As soon as one Congress is completed, they begin the planning for the next year’s event.
I was there as part of the Eucharistic procession Saturday morning, after which led adoration and benediction.
The procession was quite impressive; it took about an hour-and-a-half for everyone to make their way into the convention center because the crowd was so huge. You can see the banners and signs of the different communities in the far as you can see the banisters of different parishes, the Aztec dancers from the Mexican community, the banner of the Vietnamese community, for example.
I was very happy to see my relatives Brett Woods and his daughter Lauren, who were with us at the procession.
It is an extraordinary event each year, and I was very happy to be a part of it.
Sunday, I returned to Boston to take part in the Corpus Christi Mass and procession at St. Mary’s in Waltham.
We are all very delighted that Father Michael Nolan is back in the parish and doing so well after his recent health challenges.
This year, Corpus Christi, as observed United States, coincided with the feast of the Ugandan Martyrs, which is June 3. So, the parish decided to postpone their observance of the Ugandan Martyrs until this coming Sunday but also asked the Ugandan community to join us at the Corpus Christi Mass. So, the assembly was made up largely of Ugandan and Hispanic parishioners.
There were wonderful Ugandan and Hispanic choirs
Following, the Mass we had the procession with three benedictions (the tradition for Corpus Christi processions), which went from St. Mary Church to St. Charles Borromeo Church.
I led the first benediction on Waltham Common, and then Father Noland led the other two.
These processions put me in mind of the great Corpus Christi procession in Port of Spain, Trinidad, which I participated in many years ago when I was bishop in the Virgin Islands. There, they have the largest Eucharistic procession in the Caribbean, with hundreds of thousands of people. It goes on for hours with thousands and thousands of people.
They had a canopy that was on rollers with a shelf for the bishop to rest the Blessed Sacrament on, because he would have never been able to carry the monstrance for that long. They told me that when the British invaded Trinidad, the Spanish refused to surrender the island to the British until they promised that they would guarantee the continuance of the Corpus Christi procession!
It was an extraordinary sight, and I always think of it on the Feast of Corpus Christi.
That evening, I went to Quincy to attend the 9th annual gala dinner of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Boston.
I was so pleased to see so many people come out to support the seminary.We were also happy to be joined by Bishop Donald Pelletier. He is a LaSalette Father from Massachusetts who, for many years, was bishop in Madagascar.
The evening featured a video highlighting the work of the seminary and another on the life of Franciscan Father Roderick Crispo, spiritual director at the seminary, who is celebrating his 90th birthday.
The evening’s two honorees were the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States Archbishop Christophe Pierre and Dr. Lucy Bayer-Zwirello, the Chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.
They both gave very inspiring addresses.
Also during the evening, I had the onerous task of pulling out the winning number of a raffle of a yellow Corvette to benefit the seminary.
I was so glad the winner wasn’t one of my priests because people would have said it was rigged — not to mention the fact that I don’t want my priests driving around in yellow Corvettes!
As they always do, the seminarians regaled us with songs towards the end of the evening.
It was a wonderful celebration and I was very happy to be there to encourage support for the seminary.
Monday, I went to Washington D.C. to participate in the annual Cardinals Dinner to support the Catholic University of America. In the past, it has been held in different dioceses around the country but now is being held at Catholic University. The six cardinal-archbishops of the United States were all part of the celebration.
During the evening, they talked about a number of recent positive developments at the university, including the fact that this has been a record fundraising year. They also spoke about the increasing enrollment, and I was particularly pleased that Hispanic enrollment at CUA has doubled.
President Garvey has made outreach to the Hispanic community an important goal in his tenure, and clearly, those efforts are paying off.
For example, every year they seek out a prominent Hispanic leader to include among those receiving honorary degrees. They also plan to establish satellite campuses in the Southwest that will combine instruction with distance-learning. This is part of the university’s effort to reach Hispanic students in that area, many of whom will the first in their family to attend college. So, there was a lot of good news and joy. The university has done some restructuring in the academic departments that has created some tensions, but I am confident the university administration is going to work to heal those tensions. I am also very encouraged to see how popular President Garvey is among the student body. Whenever I talk to students from Catholic University, they are very enthusiastic about the leadership he is providing.
Finally, Wednesday I had lunch with around 15 of our senior priests and soon-to-be-senior priests at the Pastoral Center. It was an opportunity for me to thank them for their service and their ministry.
Prior to the luncheon, representatives of the Clergy Funds met with them to explain the services they offer to senior priests and to make sure they are aware of the programs available to them during this time of transition.
Until next week,