Hello and welcome!
Saturday, I traveled to Pittsburgh to celebrate the priestly ordination of two Capuchins from my province – Brother Andrew Corriente and Brother David Domanski. Brother Andrew is one of our more famous friars because he won “The Great American Baking Show.”
The ordination was held in St. Augustine’s Church, the very church where I was professed and ordained. It’s the German parish in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania and was built as a replica of St. Benno’s Church in Munich.
It’s always a great joy to be able to celebrate an ordination.
Of course, it’s the third ordination I have celebrated in the last 30 days – we had the priesthood ordination in May, the transitional deacons two weeks ago and now this one.
I told the friars in my homily that, as I celebrated the ordination on Saturday, it had been 37 years, almost to the day, since I celebrated my first ordination, which was also held in that church. I ordained two capuchins on that day, and one of them was Brother Donald Lippert, who is now the Bishop of Mendi, Papua New Guinea. In fact, of my first five ordinations, four are now bishops, and one is a cardinal. But I told them the spell was broken after that because none of the men I have ordained since have gone on to become bishops!
From there, I went on to San Diego, California, for the annual spring assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Robert Reed and Bishop Mark O’Connell joined me there.
The meetings started on Monday, but we had committee meetings over the weekend. Because of the ordination, I was unable to be there on Saturday, but on Sunday, I had two meetings.
One was for the Solidarity Fund for Africa. That committee is in charge of distributing the funds from the collection that is taken up every year. That collection was really the brainchild of Bishop John Ricard because he realized that the Church in the U.S. has always done so much for Latin America, but Africa is the continent where the Church is growing the fastest. So, this initiative is to help provide resources to the Church in Africa for the training of leaders and catechists, the building of churches, and meeting the other kinds of pastoral needs they have. Of course, Catholic Relief Services is very much present to help in crises, but these resources are to help strengthen the structure of the Church.
As I told the bishops at the meeting, while we were gathering in California, Cardinal Antoine Kambanda of Rwanda was in Boston celebrating Mass for the Feast of the Ugandan Martyrs at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. After that, he was going to visit the Rwandan community in Portland, Maine and will return to be with us for the Eucharistic Congress tomorrow.
With Cardinal Kambanda
The other meeting was of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Archbishop Faber is the committee chairman, and Danielle Brown is the associate director. Danielle has spoken here in Boston and is just an extraordinary leader.
There were reports on some of the historical analyses that have been done looking at the Church’s involvement with slavery, and the committee has developed a Holy Hour Against Racism, which in our country is a very important theme. They also gave out copies of Bishop Braxton’s new book “The Church and the Racial Divide.”
It was a very stimulating meeting and I was happy to be invited to be a part of this committee.
As I said, the bishops’ meeting began on Monday. Every three years, our spring meeting is more of a spiritual and fraternal gathering, and that was the format this year.
We had a beautiful site for it. The hotel was right by the water in San Diego, very close to the site where they train Navy SEALs. It’s a lovely part of the country where they have wonderful weather all year round. I can certainly attest that we had great weather while I was there.
This year, our preacher–speaker was Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP of Sydney, Australia. He gave beautiful talks on the history and theology of the vocation of the bishop in the Church. We also had several group discussions around the different themes that I was able to partake in.
With Archbishop Fisher, wearing the pectoral crosses that we were given in Sydney for World Youth Day 2008
The Bishop of San Diego is, of course, Cardinal-designate Robert McElroy, and he arranged for us to say Mass on Thursday at the border between San Diego and Tijuana. We were joined for the Mass by the Archbishop of Tijuana Francisco Moreno.
With Archbishop Moreno
Archbishop José Gomez celebrated and preached the Mass. He gave a lovely reflection in which he gave a quote from Dorothy Day that I don’t recall having heard before: “You love God as much as you love one of the least.” That was a very interesting insight for me.
Sister Norma Pimentel is a member of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism and, at the meeting, I asked her about the situation at the border. She said it is still very challenging. She explained that now thousands of Haitians and Venezuelans are coming to the border, as well. Of course, a lot of that was provoked by the pandemic. Many refugees from other countries that settled in countries like Brazil and Chile, but now having lost their jobs are making their way north to see if they can join their families in the United States.
I returned to Boston on Thursday to attend the open house for priests at Regina Cleri. I was there for the open house and then to visit some of the priests who are very sick.
They gave all the priests caps that say “RC” on them. I told them I wasn’t sure if it was for “Roman Catholic” or “Regina Cleri!”
Until next week,