Hello and welcome!
Since many dioceses have been unable to hold their Diocesan In-Services, the 6th and final milestone of the V Encuentro process, this national gathering was organized to allow dioceses to connect and then break up into diocesan delegations for discussion.
On Friday night, I was among a group of bishops who dialogued with young adults. Then, on Saturday, I was involved in two breakout sessions with our participants from the archdiocese. We are very grateful to Father Alejandro Lopez Cardinale and Sister Elsa Narvaez-Rodriguez for their all they have done in organizing and coordinating our local Encuentro activities.
The Virtual Encuentro concluded Saturday evening with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, who is also the president of our bishops’ conference.
This Encuentro process has been a very good way to help people focus on Hispanic ministry, and we are confident it will bear fruit for years to come.
Sunday, I celebrated the Spanish Mass at the Cathedral, and I would like to share the video of that with you here:
Monday, The Feast of Our Lady of Aparecida, I went to the Mount St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham for the profession of final vows of Sister Karla Gonçlaves. Sister Karla worked with us for several years at the Pastoral Center before she began her vocation with the Trappistines.
Because of the pandemic, the number of people who were able to attend the profession was very limited. Thankfully, they were able to live stream the profession so that Sister Karla’s many friends and relatives here and in Brazil could be part of this joyous event. With us in person were, of course, the sisters of the community; their new abbess, Mother Sofia Millican; Dom Vincent Rogers, the Abbot of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer; Father Kevin Hunt, the chaplain to the sisters; and several members of Sister Karla’s family.
I celebrated the Mass, and Abbot Rogers concelebrated and blessed the robes and led the profession ceremony along with Mother Sofia.
In my remarks, I told the sisters how very grateful I am for the many wonderful things that Cardinal Cushing did, and one of them was to bring the Cistercian Sisters of the Strict Observance, the Trappistines, to Wrentham. I also commented on the fact that the Archdiocese of Boston has such a young population, and yet so many of our young Catholics don’t know any religious women.
I also said that I was very pleased that, in the last couple of months, we have had three religious professions — The Daughters of St. Paul, the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth and now Sister Karla’s Solemn Profession as a Trappistine nun. I told them that this is a great sign of hope, and we pray that it will inspire other young women to embrace the vocation of consecrated life in the Church.
“Muito amor,” Portuguese for “much love,” is a quote from the Gospel of Luke 7:47, which is the Gospel that Sister Karla had chosen for the profession. It is the story in which Jesus visits Simon the Pharisee, and a sinful woman comes and anoints Jesus’ feet, bathes them with her tears and wipes his feet with her hair. Jesus says to the Pharisee, “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.” I thought it was a very beautiful reading.
Monday, I led the wake service for Father Arthur Flynn. Unfortunately, I was unable to celebrate the funeral Mass because it coincided with the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, which was held on Tuesday.
At the wake service, we heard a very beautiful testimony from Father Ron St. Pierre, who said that Father Arthur was the pastor in his second assignment. He said his first assignment was very, very difficult, and Father Arthur was really very helpful to him and encouraged him in his priesthood.
In the spring, just before lockdown, I was able to visit Father Arthur in Regina Cleri. We had a very long conversation, and it was a very beautiful encounter. He was an extraordinary priest and a wonderful pastor.
Of course, the following day, we had the meeting of the Council of Cardinals advising the Holy Father on the reform of the Roman Curia that I mentioned. During this session, we focused on an updated draft of the constitution “Praedicate evangelium” that will reorganize the Roman Curia.
As regular readers of the blog will remember, the council members have met several times virtually, but this was the first time the Holy Father has been able to attend since our last in-person meeting in February.
We are very grateful that the Holy Father has reappointed us all to another term on the Council, and he has also added Cardinal Fridolin Besungu of Kinshasa, who is also a Capuchin. So, from six we’ve gone to seven, and we have a new secretary for the Council, as well. Bishop Marco Mellino has been named to replace Bishop Marcello Semeraro, who has been appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Thursday, we had one of our regular gatherings of priests who have been ordained in the last five years. There are probably about 40 men who attend these gatherings now.
We began with Midday Prayer, and I’m happy to say that we have devised a way to do it via Zoom without all the cacophony! Unfortunately, I couldn’t offer them a meal, so I had to give them a raincheck until we are able to gather again in person!
During our gathering, I asked the priests who were ordained this summer (those I jokingly refer to as the “Sons of the Pandemic”) to share their experiences because their entire ministry has been lived during the lockdown and the challenges that we are currently facing. It was very encouraging to hear their reflections.
In my remarks, I spoke about the Holy Father’s new encyclical, “Fratelli tutti.”
I reflected on the power of fraternity, friendship and solidarity in the life of the Church. I related that to celibacy and spoke about the importance of priests having friendships and community. I also spoke about the challenges of racism and how this is an antidote for those kinds of divisions and hatred that divide communities.
We also spoke about ecumenism and how, after the Second Vatican Council, there was great interest in ecumenism and a lot of activities, in particular with the mainline Protestant churches. I noted that, at that time, very often, the evangelicals were somewhat hostile to the Catholic Church. However, I told the priests, as time has gone on because of the Catholic Church’s outspoken defense of the Gospel of Life, our relationship with the evangelicals as well as the Mormons has changed considerably. But in all this time, our relationship with the Orthodox Church has remained a very important one— a Church that is so close to us in terms of sacramental life and theology.
I also talked about the idea of applying solidarity and friendship to the world of politics. We live in a society that is so polarized, as we are currently seeing with the race for president and the Senate confirmation hearings.
I told them that evangelization in the Early Church, of course, was announcing the Kerygma, but it was also in the life of the community. The people saw the unity, fraternity and solidarity that existed among the disciples, and this also led people to embrace the faith.
The feast brought to mind this lovely hymn, which is adapted from the writings of St. Teresa.
Until next week,