Hello and welcome!
This past week, we were very pleased that the New York Times published an extensive article about our COVID-19 ministry team here in the Archdiocese of Boston. I realize that we are not the only diocese with a ministry like this, but we have a very dedicated group of priests who have volunteered to live in quarantine and take special training so as to be available to bring the sacraments to people who are sick with the coronavirus. They have anointed many hundreds of people, and for this, we are very grateful.
Our parochial vicar at the cathedral, Father Pablo Gomis, is part of the COVID-19 response team
We are also very gratified by the support and spiritual help that our priests have been able to give to the first responders, caretakers and staffs of our hospitals and nursing homes who are dealing with this crisis so valiantly.
The article is very beautifully written and accompanied by many lovely photographs that document the ministry and life of the priests during their time in quarantine.
I am so pleased that, in addition to English, the article has also been made available in Spanish.
On Saturday, I had a video chat with a number of children who will be receiving their First Communion this summer. It was organized by Natalia Pellicano of our ethnic ministries office, so the children represented a number of different immigrant communities.
The “icebreaker” for the conversation was asking the children what their favorite food was. Of course, the children had a lot of different answers — like pizza or rice and beans — so I wove that into my remarks. “Food is very important,” I said. “You know that I’m Irish, and we have a lot of Irish people in Boston. Well, many of them came to this country because their families had no food. People were starving in Ireland.” And so I went on to talk a bit little about the immigrants coming here.
I then spoke about important meals that we celebrate — like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner — that are more than just food, that have another meaning. I explained that Mass has another meaning, too — that Christ becomes present to make a gift of himself to us.
We concluded by praying the Hail Mary together in different languages. The children were very sweet, and it was a joy to be able to talk to them.
This week was our second Sunday of public Masses at the Cathedral, and our numbers increased a little bit, which I think is a good sign. People are still cautious, but we had over 300 people join us for the weekend Masses. I was able to share my Pastoral Letter on racism and social justice as part of my reflection at the Sunday Mass.
That evening, I was very happy to participate in an online event of Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Originally, the seminary had scheduled its annual gala dinner for this Sunday but, given the circumstances they decided to do an online event instead to reach out to seminary friends and benefactors and to thank them for their support of the seminary:
The event had the participation of former seminary honorees, Eduardo Verástegui and Dr. Lucy Bayer-Zwirello as well as an appearance by Abby Johnson, from the movie Unplanned, who will be the seminary’s honoree at the next gala dinner on Sunday, November 22.
I understand that the seminary has redesigned its website and you are welcome to check it out here.
Monday was the day that our annual spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was to have begun in Detroit. And although we couldn’t gather in person, we had many different committee meetings during the course of the week.
On Monday, we had a meeting of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, which receives the money from the Collection for the Church in Latin America and distributes it to different project proposals. It is a very important way that North American Catholics aid the Church and the people in Latin America.
Our chairman is Bishop Octavio Cisneros, who is Cuban. He was recently was in Cuba for the installation of a new bishop there, and he shared with us a report of the situation that he encountered there. Prior to the pandemic, he and some of the committee staff were also in Venezuela, where the church is involved in a massive distribution of food to aid those who are on the brink of starvation. I also was very happy to hear the report from Haiti that they are getting close to the point where they can rebuild the seminary that was destroyed in the earthquake.
It is very edifying to be a part of the subcommittee on Latin America and see the many good works that are being supported throughout Latin America. We are very grateful for the generosity of our Catholics who support this collection.
Monday evening, we had the annual board meeting of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
The NCBC provides the vital service of advising our bishops and Catholic hospitals on medical ethics problems, which are growing ever more complicated in today’s world. So, we are very grateful for the service they provide to the Church.
Tuesday, we held a virtual staff meeting for all our employees of the Pastoral Center. Because all but essential personnel have been working from home during this time, we have not been able to hold our regular all-staff gatherings. So, this was our first opportunity to meet with the whole staff since the beginning of the pandemic.
During the meeting, we heard from our Secretary of Education, Tom Carroll, who spoke about the situation with the schools, and from Chancellor John Straub, who spoke about the situation of the Pastoral Center and planning going forward.
That afternoon, our USCCB committee meetings continued with a meeting of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. Much like the Latin America subcommittee, serving on this committee is a wonderful opportunity to see how much American Catholics are doing to help the Church throughout the world.
The program’s website describes it very nicely:
Walking with Moms in Need is a year of service where Catholic parishes and communities “walk in the shoes” of local pregnant and parenting women in need.
Everyone should know how to help moms in difficult circumstances.
While not trying to turn Catholic parishes into pregnancy centers, we can support local pregnancy centers where they exist, and we can also find and share other resources with pregnant and parenting women.
And where there are few local resources, we can create our own, based on the gifts of the parish community!
We hope you and your parish will join us in this Year of Service.
Unfortunately, the launch of the program was in March, just as restrictions related to the pandemic were being put in place. So, it did not receive the attention it might have, but this is a very important program, and we hope that it will be implemented widely as soon as it is practicable.
Wednesday, we had the wake for Beirne Lovely, who passed away June 7.
Beirne was, for many years, our in-house counsel at the archdiocese. He was a very talented attorney and a man dedicated to his family and the Church. He was very involved in many aspects of the life of the Church, and he was also very active in his hometown of Milton. He loved working for the archdiocese and brought a great deal of talent and energy to everything he did. Most recently, he was involved in our efforts to obtain financial help for the parishes and schools.
He was a proud Marine and served in Vietnam. He would often regale us with stories about that time. He also told us about how, when he came back to the States, he served as a chaplain’s assistant. One of his tasks was to accompany the chaplains when they had to inform people of the death of a loved one, and he told us how difficult that was.
His last illness came on very suddenly. It was only about nine weeks from the time of his diagnosis until the time that he died, but we are very happy that he was able to leave the hospital to die at home surrounded by his loving family. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.
Thursday, we had a board meeting of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Obviously, these are very different times, and they are just beginning to reopen, but there is a lot of very good work being done there.
On Thursday, we had a virtual commissioning ceremony for our Year of the Eucharist missionaries. These are people who have committed to pray for the success of the Year of the Eucharist and to participate in and promote the year-long series of celebrations and events.
About 470 people have committed to be missionaries of the Eucharist, and over 260 of these joined us for the ceremony, which was held via Zoom. It was an opportunity to bless them and pray with and for them as they began their mission.
Although we could not be together physically, we were happy to see each other’s faces and be able to mark the start of their special mission.
Finally, I want to let everyone know that on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. I will be celebrating a special Mass at Castle Island for racial justice and healing. The Mass has been organized by the parishes of South Boston in conjunction with community leaders.
We hope many people will be able to join us as we come together as a community to pray for justice, peace and reconciliation.
Until next week,