Hello and welcome!
We were very pleased with the announcement earlier this week that the Holy Father has decided to remove the pontifical secret in cases of abuse. This is in keeping with the conference that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors organized last month in Rome to discuss the issue of the pontifical secret, the seal of confession, confidentiality and transparency.
The purpose of the pontifical secret was never to hide crimes, but to guarantee confidentiality. However, there is always the potential for this to be abused, so the Holy Father has very wisely decided to take this step in order to assure greater transparency, which is so important.
Friday morning, I presided at the funeral Mass of Father Gerry Dorgan at St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Danvers, where he had served. Many members of his family, former parishioners and former students from his days at St. John’s Seminary gathered with us for the funeral Mass.
Every time I visit St. Mary’s, I am always struck by the tabernacle there, which was created by sculptor Pablo Eduardo, whose father used to work as the editor of my Spanish-language newspaper in Washington, El Pregonero.
He has been very much involved in liturgical art and statuary for Catholic churches. One of his latest works was for the new Christ Cathedral (the former Crystal Cathedral) of the Diocese of Orange, California. Of course, he is also well known as the artist who designed Boston’s Marathon Bombing Memorial.
Saturday morning, I attended the annual Mass and breakfast of Women Affirming Life. We had a wonderful turnout this year for the gathering, which is organized by Marianne Luthin and our Pro-Life Office.
The Fund is administered by the Pro Life Office to provide support to mothers and babies served by its Pregnancy Help ministry. Over the years, the Catholic Daughters have been the largest donor to the fund – over $150,000 since 1999. The money is raised through its “Pennies for the Unborn” campaign where CDA members collect pennies and other spare change at different parishes and meetings.
I thanked the CDA for their exceptional generosity and told them I appreciated that they presented it by check rather than bringing all the pennies they collected!
For several years we have been holding these rallies for the Hispanic youth of the archdiocese, and it was a wonderful gathering of about 700 young people. Following the Mass, the young people heard several different talks, including one by Father Marcos Enrique.
The shrine serves Hispanic as well as Portuguese speaking communities of the area, and we are very grateful for the wonderful work they do. During my visit, the pastor invited me to visit the Brazilian children who were holding their religious education classes at the shrine at the same time. In one of the classrooms, the children were preparing gifts for the homeless. It was very edifying to see these immigrant children so concerned about people in need in their community.
Sunday, I celebrated our annual Catholic Appeal Advent Mass at the Pastoral Center. It is a way to recognize and thank benefactors and others who do so much to support the vital work of the Catholic Appeal.
The Mass was followed by a brunch, at which we heard remarks by Father Eric Cadin, who spoke about his work with the university students and vocations. It was a very compelling talk, and I know the people were very encouraged by what they heard.
That evening, I gathered with members of the Neocatechumenal Way from the Cathedral Parish, Immaculate Conception in Marlboro and Our Lady of the Assumption in East Boston who were completing one of the stages of their itinerary of formation centered around prayer. They had been participating in many months of catechesis and study in their parishes and were coming together for a brief rite to mark the conclusion of the stage.
As part of the rite, each person was presented with a set of the books of the Liturgy of the Hours and they committed themselves to daily prayer.
It is edifying to see so many laypeople embracing the breviary as a prayer-form in their lives. It is the official liturgy of the Church and, although it has traditionally been the prayer of priests and those in consecrated life, the Church is anxious to have the laity participate in the Liturgy of the Hours. So, this was a beautiful moment to see so many people committed to developing their interior life.
Each year around Christmas, I like to visit with inmates in some of our local correctional facilities. So, on Monday, I went to MCI Framingham, the women’s facility for the state. The chaplain there is Sister Maureen Clark. She is doing just a wonderful job and has a fantastic team of volunteers who assist her.
At MCI Framingham, I visited the women in solitary confinement and the hospital unit, after which we had an Advent Mass in the prison Chapel. After the Mass, I had a chance to visit with the women who are participating in the work release program at the neighboring South Middlesex Correctional Center.
Of course, they have been serving in those roles for several months now and they have done a great job. So, the Board of Trustees was very happy to endorse their appointment to those positions on a permanent basis. We look forward to holding their installation ceremony in the new year.
Wednesday, I went to Mattapan for the groundbreaking of the new Cote Village development, which is a project of our Archdiocesan Planning Office for Urban Affairs in collaboration with Caribbean Integration Community Development.
Bill Grogan, our new director of the Planning Office, has been working with government and private agencies to develop about 75 units of affordable housing, including several units for people transitioning out of homelessness.
After the Mass, we always hold a light reception for the employees featuring our annual gift raffle, over which Bishop Peter Uglietto presides with great enthusiasm. The gifts include things like small items and gift cards donated by different offices and local organizations, but the most coveted prizes are the indoor parking spaces at the Pastoral Center!
Wishing you a merry and blessed Christmas,