Hello and welcome!
As I shared with you last week, after my visit to Cuba, I returned to Santo Domingo, where the archbishop asked me to preach at the dedication of their new Santuario del Cristo de los Milagros (Sanctuary of Christ of the Miracles) in Monte Plata.
This basilica is the new home of a 500-year-old image of the crucified Christ, which has been credited with many miracles and cures over the centuries. Its original home was in a smaller church, so the government constructed this new, large basilica that seats over 1,500 people.
Of course, the liturgy included the consecration of the altar and walls and all the other beautiful rites for the blessing of a new church. The celebration lasted over three hours, but I promise, it wasn’t because of my homily!
He was also a very committed and faithful Catholic who was very much involved with the life of the Church. He was a member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre for nearly 40 years, serving as Lieutenant of the Northeast Lieutenancy and later Vice-Governor General of the Order worldwide. Within the archdiocese, over the years, he served on the boards of our Planning Office for Urban Affairs, St. Elizabeth Hospital and St. John of God Hospice, and he was chair of the finance committee of the Caritas Christi Hospital System. (Mary Ryan, one of his children, is continuing that legacy of service as a member of our Archdiocesan Finance Council.)
In addition to many of his friends, family, and members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, we were also joined by a large group from the Community of Jesus, an ecumenical religious community on Cape Cod.
On Monday morning, I was honored to celebrate the funeral Mass for Marine Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo at St. Mary of the Assumption in Lawrence. Johanny was one of one of the 13 American troops killed at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, while she was helping women and children flee the country.
Although there were other public memorials, the Mass was private, with just the family and few invited guests, including officials from the Dominican Consulate; Mayor Kendrys Vasquez; Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito; Senators Markey and Warren; and Congresswoman Lori Trahan.
In my remarks, I noted that Johanny had been a volunteer at our Cor Unum Meal Center at St. Patrick Parish; she had a long history of volunteering and service and had long aspired to become a Marine. I spoke about the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and I said that Johanny followed that example, serving and, ultimately, giving her life for others.
It was a sad but beautiful moment, as we celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for this young woman who gave her life in the service of her country.
Tuesday, I departed for Rome for meetings of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. For many months, we had been holding our gatherings virtually, so it was good to meet once again in person.
Thursday, I went to greet the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, and welcome him to his new post. The archbishop had studied English at St. John’s Seminary when he was a young priest and became good friends with Father Michael Nolan and Father David Barnes while he was here.
When we met, he told me that he remembered me from those days in Boston, when I would come to visit the seminarians from Fall River who were studying at St. John’s. It also turns out that he was in the seminary with my good friend, Bishop Alberto Martinez of Paraguay. In fact, he called Bishop Alberto to tell him that I was coming to visit him. So, it was nice to make that connection, as well.
Whenever I am in Rome, I like to take the opportunity to meet with our priests and seminarians who are here. So, Thursday night, I had dinner with Joe Ferme, who will be ordained a deacon at St. Peter’s Basilica at the end of this month, Msgr. John Abruzzese and Msgr. Paul McInerny.
It was very good to be able to see them once again.
Until next week,