Hello and welcome!
Last Saturday, I had the joy of ordaining a new Capuchin priest, Brother Akolla, at St. Catherine of Sweden Church in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Cameroonian community, so we were joined by a large number of his Cameroonian relatives and friends for the celebration.
I belong to the Pittsburgh Province, and it is always a joy when I can spend the day with our friars, especially around something as joyful as a profession or ordination.
By Sunday, which was, of course, Father’s Day, I was back in Boston and we had a Mass for the Hispanic community in the cathedral, during which we had a special blessing for all the fathers and grandfathers present.
Then, in the afternoon, I attended the 10th annual Gala Dinner to benefit the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Boston.
We were so pleased to be joined by our keynote speaker, Eduardo Verástegui. I have been inviting him for a long time to come to Boston, and it was wonderful that he was able to make it on this occasion.
He gave just an extraordinary testimony about his own conversion and his commitment to working for evangelization and the Gospel of Life in Hollywood, where so many values that are in conflict with our faith are so prevalent. There, in the midst of an extremely secular and often interreligious atmosphere, he maintains a sense of mission and the presence of God in his life, which makes him ready to risk his economic well-being and his career to be faithful to his vocation as a Catholic.
He also talked about making the movie Bella. He said that, after it was released, they received over a thousand letters from women who saw the movie and had been considering abortion, but after seeing the film, were convinced that that was not the path they wanted to take.With Eduardo and rector Father Tony Medeiros
Eduardo galvanized such a reaction from the crowd, it was just stunning. As I told the seminarians afterwards, usually the songs they sing at the end of the evening are sort of the highlight, but they were completely eclipsed by the speaker this year. The undisputed highlight of the evening was the very moving testimony of the faith of this young soap opera star-turned-apostle.
I invite you to watch his full address. (He begins in Spanish, but very quickly turns to English.)
Monday, I was visited by Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe of the Diocese of Galle, Sri Lanka, who came to the cathedral accompanied by Father Marc Bishop. He was staying with Father Bishop because he was preaching for the Mission Appeal in his parish.
He brought me the gift of this statue of a spear fisherman.
We had a very nice visit. During our discussion, he spoke about the terrible bombings that took place on Easter in his country, and he described the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that exists there. However, it was encouraging to hear that, after the terrible bombings, the Buddhist community reached out to them offering help, which was very consoling for Bishop Raymond and his people because they had never had that close relationship with the other religious communities.
Then, I went to the Boston College Club in Boston to attend the annual lunch for senior priests of the Archdiocese of Boston sponsored by the Order of Malta. Once again this year we were entertained by Dick Flavin, who was just extraordinary, reciting all of his poetry and stories about the Fenway and the Red Sox. He really is quite the raconteur. I know all the priests there had a wonderful time. Of course, the view of the Boston skyline from the Boston College Club is just stunning, and makes it a wonderful venue for this gathering.
We are so grateful to the Order of Malta, particularly Jack Joyce and Jim O’Connor, as well as the Boston College Club, for their efforts in supporting this special event.
Tuesday, I met at the cathedral with Mother Olga, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, John Flatley and Jason Jones to discuss the Night 4 Life.
The Night 4 Life itself was held on Wednesday.
I offered a reflection and benediction, but the evening featured keynote addresses by Jason Jones and Cathy “Ki” Morrissey.
Ki Morrissey shared her story of how she became pregnant in college and was encouraged to have an abortion. She chose instead to give birth and place her son for adoption.
After being separated, Ki suffered from depression and turned to God to help her through the pain. When her son was 19, he reached out to her. They reunited and were able to have a relationship. Ki said she hopes to change society’s image of birthmothers as cold and uncaring, because the choice to place a child for adoption is really one of love.
Jason Jones shared his very compelling story of how, when he was in high school, his girlfriend became pregnant. They had planned to raise the child but, tragically, the girl’s father took her by force to have an abortion.
Jason was so distraught by this that he decided that he would spend the rest of his life fighting against abortion. As a young man, he was very much an atheist and only came into the Church much later. Now, he collaborates with Eduardo Verástegui in making films, and it was providential that they both happened to be in Boston in the same week.
It was also providential that the Night 4 Life was held during the same week that hearings were held on the ROE Act at the State House. (You can read more about the hearing and the testimony offered by representatives of Massachusetts Catholic conference in our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot.)
During the event we also heard from Mayor Koch. It was very edifying to see a political figure who would speak with such conviction about the dignity for human life. Also, Rev. Gene Rivers was there representing the black community.
Also on Tuesday, I attended the wake for Phil Crotty at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline, who was a member of the Order the Holy Sepulchre, an instructor of Latin at St. John’s Seminary and a longtime supporter of the seminary.
I was happy to be there for a short wake service with his friends and relatives.
Wednesday morning, I went up to Kennebunkport, Maine to join the seminarians from the Archdiocese of Boston at their annual summer retreat at the Franciscan Guest House.
This annual event is a wonderful opportunity for the Boston seminarians from all the different seminaries to come together for a time of prayer, recreation and fellowship. This year, for their recreation, they made a boat trip to Portland to visit the cathedral there.
During my visit, I celebrated Mass with them, and then we had a conference afterwards.
Wednesday afternoon, I went to South Boston to visit with members of American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, which includes several monasteries in the United States and Latin America. They were holding their General Chapter at St. Anselm’s College, and Father Casey had invited them to come to Boston.
We had Vespers together at St. Augustine Chapel, which is the oldest extant Catholic church in Boston.
Afterwards, they hosted a lovely barbecue for us at St. Bridget’s.
Thursday, we had one of our regular meetings of the Presbyteral Council. Among the items on our agenda was a presentation by Patrick Krisak and Michael Lavigne on different young adult groups in the archdiocese and how priests could encourage an adult ministry in the parishes.
It was very encouraging to hear all that is being done to help reach our young adult Catholics.
Until next week,