Hello and welcome!
Sunday, I went to Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Parish in Waltham to celebrate a Mass with the parish. This was certainly the largest group I’ve celebrated Mass for since the start of the pandemic.
We had over 500 people at the Mass, which was held in the church parking lot. The lot is quite expansive and allows the people to be very spread out, but they have a very good sound system and an elevated platform with the altar and the presider’s chair, so everyone can hear and see very well.
It was very encouraging to see all the good things happening at the parish. The parish school, Our Lady’s Academy, has successfully reopened. They are having weekly adoration outside for the Year of the Eucharist, and there’s a very beautifully landscaped shrine in front of the church, so there’s a nice place for outdoor prayer, as well. The pastor, Father Jim DiPerri, and the vicar, Father Francis Pham, are doing just a spectacular job making sure that people have the opportunity for Mass and devotions while, at the same time, observing all of the requirements for social distance and safety. Of course, they are taking full advantage of the large parking lot and grounds that they have.
It was a wonderful experience. I look forward to doing more parish Masses, but I’m rather sure that this will be the largest group I’ll have for quite some time because of the present circumstances.
Monday, we had a virtual meeting of the Council of Cardinals, and we continue to make recommendations to the Holy Father concerning the reform of the Roman Curia and plans going forward.
There is also a great deal of anticipation around the Holy Father’s new encyclical, Fratelli tutti, which he will sign at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi on Oct. 3. I understand it will reflect the Holy Father’s desire to communicate a message about the post-pandemic world and the need for greater solidarity going forward in light of all we have experienced.
Tuesday morning, we had another of our monthly all-staff webinars for the employees of the Pastoral Center. There are still only a very limited number of employees reporting for work in person at the Pastoral Center, so these virtual town hall-style meetings are very helpful in maintaining communication with our staff.
We also heard from our Superintendent of Schools Tom Carroll. As I mentioned last week, we are very, very comforted by the fact that, after some initial decline in the spring, there has been a great uptick in enrollment now that the school year has begun.
This past week, Tom authored an opinion piece in The Pilot on the great progress that our schools are making. I invite you all to read it here.
Tuesday afternoon, we had a Zoom meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Bishop Joseph Naumann is our president at this time.
Among the many issues we discussed were concerns about efforts to eliminate the Hyde Amendment and the best way to plan for the National Prayer Vigil for Life and the March for Life in January. In light of the pandemic, many activities around the March for Life will likely be held virtually. So we’re looking at different suggestions about how to prepare for the January observance of the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
Wednesday evening, I went to the Faber Jesuit Community in Brighton for vespers and a time of dialogue with the Jesuit seminarians who I will ordain this Saturday. There are two deacons to be ordained priests, and eight men to be ordained transitional deacons.
All of these men have been working in different parishes of the archdiocese, and there is a long tradition of Jesuit deacons and priests working with immigrant communities. For example, the two men to be ordained priests are both from Africa, and they have been working with our African communities.
We are very blessed to have the presence of the Jesuit seminarians in our archdiocese, and we are so grateful for all that they do.
Although we did have some European members of the commission who met in Rome together with Msgr. Oliver and our staff, those of us from the rest of the world were “Zooming in.” This involves members from such far-flung countries as the Philippines, Tonga, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Colombia and Brazil — so it was hard to find times that we all could meet. Some people had to stay up very late, and others had to get up very early, but we managed to pull it off. We had perfect attendance, and we’re very glad for that!
We continue to work on revamping our website. We’ve also been holding webinars and conferences with different bishops’ conferences around the issue of child protection and best practices. Ordinarily, we would also be involved with the ad limina visits, but right now all that has come to a halt because of the pandemic. However, we are already making plans for next year’s activities, which will begin as virtual activities. It is our hope that, towards the end of the year, we will be able to once again have gatherings where we can bring people together for trainings and to study issues around child protection.
Until next week,