Hello and welcome!
I am writing to you this week from Rome, where I have been for much of this week for meetings with the Holy Father.
But before I left, on Friday I went to St. Augustine School in Andover for the celebration of their 100th anniversary.
We blessed the cornerstone for the school’s new gymnasium, followed by Mass in the parish church with the entire school.
Blessing the cornerstone
The parish is run by the Augustinians and the pastor there is Father Peter Gori. The school was founded by the sisters of Notre Dame, and there is still a presence of the sisters at the school.
With the faculty and staff
A century is a great landmark, and the school is thriving and continues to expand. I was very happy to be a part of this very joyful celebration. We were also pleased that a number of parents were able to join the celebration along with the students and teachers.
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Each year at the banquet, the Labor Guild presents awards to a union official, a representative of management, a labor attorney and a mediator. I was there to give the invocation and to congratulate the evening’s honorees.
This year’s award recipients were William McLaughlin, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 4; Thomas Ryan III, director employee-labor relations at National Grid, New England; Attorney Shelly Kroll of the law firm Segal Roitman LLP; and Paul Chabot, commissioner of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
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From there we went to the clergy Advent gathering that was being held at Sacred Heart Parish in Roslindale. The gathering is sponsored every year by Msgr. Frank Kelly. It was a great opportunity to be together with so many of our priests.
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I was there for the Holy Hour, after which I addressed the young people. It was December 6, so I spoke to them about the Advent tradition of St. Nicholas.
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On Sunday I left for Rome, and arrived on Monday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Being the patronal feast of the United States, there is always a big celebration at the Pontifical North American College.
Cardinal Pell was the main celebrant of the Mass and I concelebrated along with several other bishops and priests.
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Tuesday we began our meetings with the Holy Father, and in the evening I had dinner with the Boston seminarians studying in Rome.
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Wednesday, we had the funeral for Cardinal Jorge Mejia, who is an old friend of mine from Argentina. Cardinal Mejia was also a good friend of the Holy Father, both of them being from Argentina.
He was one of the most influential figures in Catholic Jewish relations. Argentina has one of the largest Jewish populations in the Western Hemisphere and he was brought to Rome by Pope Paul VI to be involved in the work of building Jewish Catholic relations.
He was a very cultured man who spoke English perfectly, without an accent. Over his many years in Rome, Cardinal Mejia held many important positions, including Vatican archivist.
He died at age 91; he had a long and full life.
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Thursday, Msgr. John Abruzzese, a Boston priest working at the Holy See’s Synod Office, brought us relics to bring back to the offices of the CatholicTV Network – it is a relic of Blessed Luigi and Zelia, parents of St. Therese the Little Flower. The relics of St. Therese and her parents had been brought for the opening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family to stress the importance of holiness and the family — here was a daughter who was a saint, now and her parents are also being canonized.
The CatholicTV network is under the patronage of the Little Flower and we have a small shrine to her with the relics of St. Therese, and now there will be relics of her parents there, as well.
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Throughout the week, we have been holding meetings with the Holy Father and the group of Cardinals advising him. During our meeting, I gave a report on the work of the Commission for the Protection of Children, of which I am the head, and we were very pleased to say that we hope to announce the new members of the commission soon. We will hold the first meeting of the full commission in February.
We have now received office space in the Vatican. So I was there for the first time this week.
This is my office:
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And finally, today is, of course, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Pontifical Commission on Latin America organized a Mass with bishops from throughout the Americas.
We prayed a rosary in the Vatican Gardens followed by Mass in the Basilica with the Holy Father.
At the Mass, they sang a typical Argentine Mass called a Misa Criolla, which was written 50 years ago. It is a Mass that uses many different folk instruments and tunes of Argentina and incorporates them into the liturgical texts.
The Holy Father has a great devotion to that Mass — so much so that he gave me a CD of it when I first met him a few years ago. In fact, I still play it often.
Until next week,