Hello and welcome,
Last Friday, I celebrated the funeral Mass of Father John Sassani who most recently has been the pastor of Sacred Heart and Our Lady Help of Christian parishes in Newton. He had, of course, also worked for a long time with the Office for Spiritual Development, Cursillo and as a spiritual director.
There was a memorial Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians on Wednesday, but the final funeral Mass was at St. John’s in Swampscott, the parish of his family and where he was baptized. I was the principal celebrant of the Mass, and Father Jack Ahern was the homilist.
Maryann McLaughlin, who worked with him for many years at the Office for Spiritual Development, also gave a very moving reflection on his life at the end of the Mass. He was a man of prayer and a teacher of prayer, and his passing had a great effect on many people.
Saturday, I went to Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine in the Seaport to celebrate confirmations for college students from the various campus ministries in the archdiocese.
With us at the Mass was Father Eric Cadin, who oversees our campus ministry, as well as a number of FOCUS missionaries, priests and deacons involved in campus ministry.
It is always a great joy to be able to celebrate these confirmations.
Later that day, I met with our Survivors Advisory Panel. This is a small group of abuse survivors established about two years ago, who work with our Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach to provide support to others who been abused as well as those impacted by abuse, including families, parish communities and priests. The panel has helped organize healing Masses, wellness workshops, rosaries, parish missions, and other activities for survivors and their families.
I was very happy to have this opportunity to hear about some of the successful activities that the group has carried on; their participation in some of our formation programs, particularly for our deacons; and their outreach to prisoners.
Saturday evening, I attended the annual gala dinner for the Oblates of The Virgin Mary at the Seaport Hotel. I gave the invocation for the evening, which brought together people from the places all over the country where the Oblates minister.
We are very grateful for the work the Oblates do here in the archdiocese at St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine and at the Prudential Center Chapel, and we are also pleased to have their seminarians studying at St. John’s Seminary. So, I was very happy to be able to be a part of that gala to support their ministries.
From the gala, I went to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral to join their celebration of the Easter vigil.
As they graciously do each year, they invited me to read the gospel passage and to address the people. We also heard the Easter message from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the message from Metropolitan Methodios.
From there, I went to our own cathedral where, on the same night, our Ge’ez Rite Catholics were celebrating their own Easter Vigil. The Ge’ez are Eastern Catholics belonging to the Ethiopian Rite of the Church, which is similar to the Ethiopian Coptic Rite. Like the Orthodox, they follow the Julian calendar for their liturgical year.
We are very pleased to have these Ethiopian Eastern Rite Catholics as part of our Cathedral Parish. Their presence demonstrates the catholicity of our Church, which is not just the Latin rite, but also all the Eastern Rites of the Church. Their presence also underscores the way that the cathedral, which was built by immigrants, is now serving the new immigrants who come to Boston from Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
The following day was Divine Mercy Sunday, and so I went to our St. John Paul II Shrine of Divine Mercy in Salem to celebrate Mass with them.
With us was, of course, the pastor Father Robert Bedzinski and we were also joined by Bishop Mark O’Connell and Bishop Wieslaw Lechowicz from Poland who had celebrated confirmations in Polish at the shrine the day before.
Divine Mercy Sunday is the highlight of the shrine’s year, and I was very pleased to be able to be there to celebrate the Mass with them.
We are very pleased that the shrine is very active with Masses and confession, novenas and adoration. I see the shrine as very important, particularly given the fact that it is in Salem, where there is a concerted effort to promote witchcraft and the occult. It is wonderful to see that sign countered by the presence of the Divine Mercy Shrine.
For much of the rest of this week, I have been attending a seminar here in Washington entitled “Pushing Back Against the Darkness, Cultivating Relationships in Pastoral Care for Abuse and Trauma.” It was sponsored by the Catholic University of America in conjunction with the group Spirit Fire, and Msgr. Stephen Rossetti and Teresa Kettelkamp from our Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors were also very much involved in the planning of this event.
The seminar was attended by a group of about 80 people, almost all of whom were bishops or survivors of abuse. It was focused on ways to help survivors find a path to reconnect with the Church and also to make use of their important contributions around outreach to other survivors, as well as educational efforts on the part of the Church in general.I gave one of the morning talks and participated in the different dialogues and discussions. I think it was a very fruitful encounter and certainly demonstrated the importance of working with abuse survivors as a path forward in our Church to bring about justice, healing and safeguarding of children. Survivors have much to contribute, and it was a very wonderful experience.
Because I was in Washington for this very important event, unfortunately, I was unable to be present for the visit of the relic of the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, to the archdiocese.
The relic was venerated at the cathedral as well as at the Pastoral Center, St. John’s Seminary, the Divine Mercy Shrine and Blessed Sacrament Church in Walpole.
This is the second time that the relic has been here, which is a great blessing for us. It is a reminder of the call to holiness of all of our priests. The Curé d’Ars was a parish priest whose presence in the pulpit, the confessional and his parish helped to bring about a spiritual revival in his parish and in the Church. We pray that those who were able to be in the presence of the relic experience this same sort of revival of the spirit in their own lives.
Until next week,