Hello and welcome!
While I’m sure there were many of you who followed the Holy Father’s recent visit to Iraq very closely, I know there were others who were unable to. So, I want to begin this week by sharing with you this video from the Holy See that gives a very good summary of the Holy Father’s apostolic journey in just under 20 minutes.
Friday, I met with the provincial of the Jesuits’ USA East Province, Father Joe O’Keefe, as part of his routine outreach to all the bishops in his province.
It was the first time I had spoken to him since he was elected provincial. He was, of course, formerly in the education department at Boston College and was very active in supporting our Catholic schools. He has now been appointed provincial of their new USA East Province that is composed of the former New England, New York, and Maryland provinces. The Jesuits are the largest religious order of men in the archdiocese, and they carry out many important ministries here. So, I was very happy to have this opportunity to speak to him and receive an update on the Jesuits’ activities.
Later that day, I was very happy to join Gov. Baker for a visit to St. Mary’s School in Lynn. With us were Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Mass. Secretary of Education James Peyser and our Superintendent of Schools Thomas Carroll, along with St. Mary’s Board Chair Bill Mosakowski and Head of School Dr. John Dolan.
Our visit included a tour of some of the school’s facilities, during which we stopped into an AP Biology class.
It was very impressive. The students were looking at their DNA through digital microscopes. I thought to myself: When I was in high school, I didn’t know what DNA was, let alone have a chance to see it!
We also had a dialogue with the students about their experience of in-person learning during this time. The school has been open continuously since the beginning of the school year – they have not lost a single school day due to the pandemic.
Our Catholic schools are doing a wonderful job, and this was acknowledged by the governor and others. We are so grateful to Tom Carroll and his staff at the Catholic Schools Office for the extraordinary job they have done helping to shepherd our schools through the pandemic – helping to keep them open and making sure they have the technology and supplies necessary to carry out safe, in-person instruction during this challenging time.
Friday evening, I had a Zoom meeting with our local FOCUS missionaries. It was an opportunity for them to share their experience of their annual national gathering, the SEEK Conference, which was held in a virtual and small group format this year.
It was very good to be with them once again and hear their reflections.
Saturday morning, I was very happy to join in a virtual workshop sponsored by the archdiocese’s Social Justice Ministry looking at issues of racial justice.
The keynote speaker of the day was Danielle Brown, the associate director of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Her address focused on the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Racism “Open Wide Our Hearts.”
Afterward, we heard from Father Scott Euvrard of the Cohasset/ Hull Collaborative; Patrick Krisak of our Office of Faith Formation and Missionary Discipleship; Lorraine Valentine and Joe-Ann Fergus of the St. Katharine Drexel Parish Social Justice Committee; and Lorna DesRoses of our Office of Faith Formation and Parish Support on what is being done on the local and parish level to address the issue of racism.
Saturday, Sister Sara Grimaldo Sanchez of The Missionary Sisters Servant of the Word came for a visit accompanied by Sister Maria Garcia Ramirez, who has arrived as the new local superior and is working in evangelization and religious education for the Hispanic community.
Sister Maria and Sister Sara
Sister Sara is moving on to a new assignment and will now be stationed in Columbus, Ohio. She did such wonderful work at the cathedral, and she will be sorely missed.
Catholic University is doing a very fine job serving the students as best they can during the pandemic. However, we are still not at the point where we could have a meeting together in Washington, so we met via Zoom.
On Tuesday, we also had a meeting of the board of St. John’s Seminary.
We are very encouraged that the seminary has been reaccredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, known as NEASC, for another 10 years. We are very grateful to the rector, Father Stephen Salocks, the faculty and members of the Board of Trustees who worked so hard to prepare for the accreditation process
Wednesday was, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, the patronal feast of the archdiocese, and I celebrated the noon Mass at the cathedral. Concelebrating with me were Msgr. Kevin O’Leary and Father Marcelino D’Arthenay from the cathedral; Canon Francis Kelly, who is a former Rector of Pope John XXIII Seminary; and Father Joseph Briody, a professor at St. John’s Seminary who is from Donegal.
While things were a bit different this year because of the pandemic, we able to maintain some of our beloved St. Patrick’s Day traditions, such as the blessing and distribution of the shamrocks and wonderful Irish music for the Mass. For me, the highlight is always the singing of Our Lady of Knock, which was sung very beautifully.
I invited Father Briody to serve as the homilist for the Mass. He offered a wonderful reflection on the life and ministry of St. Patrick, noting how the sufferings of St. Patrick’s years in bondage were a preparation for his ministry later as a missionary bishop.
Father Casey was very gracious to invite us to be part of their St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
I’m very jealous. I want to know when we are going to dye the Atlantic Ocean green!
We are very fortunate to have such an extraordinary group of volunteers who serve in this very important body. Without their hard work and advice, it would be impossible for us to run the archdiocese, and so we are very grateful for their service.
Thursday afternoon, I took part in a conference at Georgetown University organized by John Carr and Kim Daniels entitled “The Francis Factor at Eight Years: Global Impacts, U.S. Challenges,” which is part of their Francis Factor Dialogues series.
They invited me; Michelle Gonzales Maldonado, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Scranton; and Cindy Wooden, who is the Rome Bureau Chief of the Catholic News Service, to address themes and impacts of Pope Francis’ pontificate.
Also with us was Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. When he was a young priest, he used to come and help me out in the Virgin Islands during the summer. So, I’ve known the cardinal for many, many years. His training is in Scripture and, when he would come in the summer, he would always give Bible classes to the deacons and the people. He was very beloved, and we are so grateful for the pastoral work he provided to the people there.
It was a very good discussion, and they had a very good turnout of about 2,000 people participating online. As John Carr noted, there is no venue at the university that can hold more than 700 people so, thanks to the pandemic, they were able to have three times as many participants than if we had gathered in person.
Today, Pope Francis is celebrating the eighth anniversary of his Petrine Ministry, which began on the Feast of St. Joseph in 2013, when he received the ring and the pallium in St. Peter’s Square. Pope Francis has a deep devotion to St. Joseph and has not only included the symbol of St. Joseph in his coat of arms as a bishop and now as Pope but has also included the name of St. Joseph in all the canons of the Mass. On December 8, he proclaimed a special Year of St. Joseph, which we are marking here in the archdiocese. I look forward to our upcoming observances, including a celebration in the fall with the Sisters of St. Joseph.
On this St. Joseph’s Day, I would like to leave you with a lovely prayer from our own Bishop Robert Reed:
St. Joseph, you held the son of God close to you, and when the child Jesus was lost you felt the concern and worry of a parent. Be like a father and counselor to me; protect me by your prayers in time and in eternity.
With the same care that you had for Jesus, intercede for me that I might grow in wisdom and grace before God. Preserve me from the corruption of this world, and pray that I may, in one eternal day, see Jesus’s face and be united with you, Holy Mary, and all the saints in Heaven.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, Who rested in your arms and Who is Lord, for ever and ever.
Until next week,