Hello and welcome!
Last Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday, a time when we especially pray for our priests and for vocations to the priesthood. So, Msgr. Kevin O’Leary and I were very happy to celebrate Mass for that special day at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Monday, we continued our regular series of weekly webinars aimed at keeping our priests and people connected and informed during this time. This week, we addressed the topic of best practices for virtual evangelization, in which we heard from representatives of parishes in Salem, Brookline and Quincy.
We are very happy to have these opportunities to share best practices, and it was wonderful to see how much good work is being carried on in our parishes despite the current restrictions on public gatherings and the need for social distancing.
We are also planning a future Monday webinar on fundraising in our parishes during this time. Without the Sunday offertory, it is very challenging for our parishes and for the archdiocese to meet our obligations. We are very pleased with the progress of 90 Days Now – For Your Parish initiative, which has already raised over $400,000 for our parishes. If you have not yet participated, I encourage you to take part in this program and also help us spread the word about it.
I also want to once again remind everyone of the ongoing effort to gather signatures for a petition to be presented to Governor Baker, urging him to include private schools — including our Catholic schools — in the allocation of funds made available through the CARES Act. Our school system is educating over 30,000 youngsters, which results in savings to the Commonwealth of over $1 billion a year, just counting the archdiocese’s schools alone.
Of course, our Catholic schools have an outstanding track record of providing a quality education, but for us, they are also a ministry. They are a way of evangelizing and helping young people to know about God, live a life of discipleship and be formed as good citizens. Every signature added to the petition will help ensure that this important mission continues.
This is the time of year when they would have gone on their annual Lourdes Pilgrimage, so I was happy to see that our local group continues to meet and stay active virtually through activities such as these Vespers celebrations.
Wednesday, I created a video message for the Virtual Marian Celebration at St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart schools in Lynn. May is, of course, is the month in which we especially honor the Blessed Mother.
In my remarks, I spoke a little bit about the tradition of the May crowning and also about the importance of Mary, not only as our protectress and intercessor but also as a model of how to follow the Lord, by saying “yes” to his will in our lives.
This morning, we held a virtual meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. While in some ways it may have been easier to hold a gathering of the commission in this way, it did present its own sort of challenge — finding an appropriate time to hold the meeting. With commission members coming from all over the world – Columbia, England, Italy, the Philippines, Samoa, Brazil, India, Zambia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Australia, Holland and Poland — some commission members aren’t even on the same day as others!
But, of course, we managed to arrange it, and we were very happy to be able to continue our work during this time. We are planning webinars on child protection and a number of other activities that the commission is involved in.
We continue to plan for the reopening of our churches and the return to the celebration of public Masses here in the archdiocese. To help us in this, we have formed a commission that has been working with our staff, under the direction of Father Paul Soper. This week, we announced the addition of several new members to the commission representing the Presbyteral Council, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and the deacon community.
Of course, we are all very anxious to be able to celebrate the Eucharist publicly once again and to have our parishioners return to receive the sacraments. At the same time, we want to do this in a way that protects vulnerable populations and will be supportive of the efforts of the entire community to overcome the pandemic that is in our midst. We are confident that, just as parishes have been so creative in coming up with ways to carry on ministry in this time of social distancing, many good ideas will come forward as to how we can celebrate Masses in a way that will allow us to gather and not put people at risk.
Finally, I want to once again express my gratitude to all our essential workers, first responders and health care workers. This Thursday, in solidarity with the #LightItBlue initiative, we lit the cathedral with blue lights in their honor.
I also want to share with you this message prepared by Bishop Bob Reed thanking those who are putting themselves at risk to keep serving us during this time.
— Bishop Robert Reed (@BpRobertReed) May 5, 2020
Until next week,