Hello and welcome!
I want to begin this week noting that on Tuesday we had our annual Spring Gala to benefit Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.
I was very happy that this year they honored the outgoing board chair, Jim Gallagher. He has been a great supporter of Catholic Charities over the years, and we were pleased that he allowed them to recognize his service at the gala.
We are also pleased to welcome Kevin MacKenzie, our new incoming chair, who is a longtime member of the board. We know he will do a fabulous job.
Catholic Charities is the second largest social services agency in the Commonwealth, after the state itself. We are very proud of the wonderful work that they do, and are so grateful to the many benefactors, supporters and volunteers who make the work of Catholic Charities possible each day.
Much of last week, I was in Rome for meetings of The Papal Foundation, as well as meetings of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Our meeting of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was on Wednesday. In fact, this particular type of gathering of the congregation is commonly known as the “feria quarta,” or “fourth day,” because they are always convened on a Wednesday. These are special sessions of the congregation that are called periodically to discuss important matters and form recommendations to be presented to the Holy Father. There are about a dozen cardinals who attended this meeting and, as a member of the congregation, I was requested to attend.
That evening, I celebrated Mass at my titular church in Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria, for members of the Papal Foundation. There were a number of bishop concelebrants with us including the new Archbishop of Washington Wilton Gregory, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver and Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas. We were also joined by a number of Boston priests, and our seminarians served the Mass.
Thursday was the meeting of The Papal Foundation. In this photo, you see Eustace Mita, president of The Papal Foundation, addressing the members.
The young priests you see in the photo are scholarship recipients of the Foundation. The Papal Foundation has given scholarships for about a thousand priests and religious sisters from Eastern Europe and mission countries to be able to study in Rome.
This is just one of the many examples of the great work that the Papal Foundation carries out. They also support many of the charities of the Holy Father, help Mother Teresa’s community and do a great deal of work helping in relief efforts after natural disasters, just to name a few.
Thursday evening was the annual Rector’s Dinner of the Pontifical North American College. The honoree this year was Cardinal DiNardo who, unfortunately, was unable to be present due to his health, though we were very happy to hear a message from him and to learn that they will hold a gathering for him later in the year when he is able to travel.
Also honored during the dinner were Mr. and Mrs. George Strake Jr. of Houston.
The Strakes have been exceptionally strong supporters of the Church. In fact, Mr. Strake’s father was the person who, for many years, underwrote the cost of the excavation of the Scavi, the necropolis under St. Peter’s Basilica, begun by Pope Pius XII. That excavation led to the discovery of the bones of St. Peter.
Friday, the members of The Papal Foundation had an audience with the Holy Father, and I invited Msgr. Kevin O’Leary and the Boston seminarians to accompany me.
After the audience, we celebrated a Mass together followed by dinner at the Lateran Palace. I had actually never been in the Lateran Palace, so I was very happy to be able to see it. It is just stunning, with many beautiful paintings, tapestries and sculptures.
In the last few years, the Lateran has been refurbished, and it looks just stunning. It is one of the original Constantinian basilicas of Rome. It is the pope’s cathedral as Bishop of Rome and, during the Middle Ages, it was where the Holy Father lived.
That is the palace that St. Francis went to with his first friars seeking approbation for the Franciscan Rule. The famous story goes that Pope Honorius III had a dream in which he saw the Lateran Basilica collapsing and a scruffy friar holding up. Then, the next day Francis arrived. So, he was anxious to approve the rule!
On Saturday, I had dinner with our Boston priests and seminarians who are in Rome. I also asked Eduardo Verástegui and Alejandro Monteverdi who were with us for the meetings of The Papal Foundation to join us. Many will remember Eduardo and Alejandro for their work on films such as “Bella” and “Little Boy.”
In fact, we will be welcoming Eduardo to Boston in June for the gala to benefit our Redemptoris Mater Seminary.
Sunday, I came back to Boston, and on Monday evening I went to St. Camillus Church in Arlington to celebrate a bilingual Mass in honor of Our Lady of Fatima. Father Michael Zimmerman has a Marian Mass at the parish once a month and this month was, of course, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.
Tuesday, I was very happy to join our Pastoral Center employees who were participating in Parish Service Week at the Tri-Parish Collaborative in Brockton.
Each year, employees from the Pastoral Center spend a week working at a parish or collaborative in the archdiocese. Throughout the week, they help with a variety of chores — everything from landscaping and planting to cleaning and painting.
Every year they come up with a new toy for me to use. This year I got to use the weed wacker!
We are so pleased that our staff spends this week serving in our local parishes. It is very much a sign of the connection between the Pastoral Center and the parishes. When people visit the Pastoral Center, they see the photos of all the parishes lining the walls throughout the building, which symbolize the fact that the Pastoral Center exists to be of service to the parishes. This practice of having us go out to help in the parishes is a very meaningful reminder of that connection.
Then, at noon, I was very happy to be able to celebrate a Mass at the Pastoral Center Chapel for our permanent deacons who are celebrating their 25th and 40th anniversaries of ordination this year.
During the Mass, the deacons renewed their ordination promises.
Afterwards, we had a very nice lunch with the deacons and their wives.
That evening, we had one of our Sts. Martha and Mary Dinners for young women considering a vocation to religious life. Modeled after the St. Andrew’s Dinners for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood, last year we began holding these dinners for young women, as well.
We were joined for the evening by a number of young religious sisters, two of whom gave witness talks — a young novice from the Daughters of St. Paul and a novice from the Sister Disciples.
I think these dinners are a very important step to introducing the young women of our archdiocese to the vocation of religious life. As strange as it may seem to those of us of older generations, many young people today have very little contact with religious. Some have never even met a sister. This is a great concern for me, and so I’m very pleased that we have begun hosting these dinners to help connect our religious women to our young people.
Wednesday, I gathered with my brother priests of the archdiocese for our spring convocation. This is an opportunity for us to gather together as a presbyterate, celebrate a day of fraternity and to reflect on our ministry and lives as priests.
During the day we heard from two excellent speakers — Msgr. Dennis Sheehan and Father Tom Macdonald. Msgr. Sheehan has been a priest for 55 years and Father Macdonald has been ordained for 6 years, and each witnessed for us their experience of the priesthood.
There were also different reports given to the priests, and I was able to address them as well.
The convocation is also an opportunity for us to honor two or three of our fellow priests. This year, the honorees were Father Bill Kelly and Father John Kiley.
It was a beautiful day, and I know it was a very enriching experience for all our priests.
Bethany Health Care is an extraordinary organization, which consistently receives some of the highest ratings in the state. The sisters do extraordinary work, and the care that is given there is just exemplary, not just for the sisters but also laypeople. In fact, it is a place that many of our priests recommend for their parents because they know they will receive extraordinary and loving attention. So, it really is a wonderful institution in the archdiocese, and I was happy to be there to support them. It was also a chance to publicly thank the Sisters of St. Joseph for their witness and service, which is such an important part of the history and life our archdiocese.
Finally, I want to remind everyone that tomorrow we will be ordaining 13 men to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. It will be our first opportunity to hold ordinations there since the renovations have been completed. It is perhaps fitting that our inaugural ordination of the refurbished cathedral will be the largest class in many years.
Though I understand that not everyone will be able to attend the ordination in person, I invite everyone to watch the Mass on CatholicTV and in that way be able to share the joy of welcoming these 13 new priests for the Archdiocese of Boston.
Until next week,