Hello and welcome,
This week we saw a U.N. world meeting on climate change, held in Paris. We are hopeful that this gathering will make the people of the world more conscious of our situation and the need to address the problems that we face as a planet. We must do this realizing that our behavior will have very grave consequences for future generations. Perhaps we can hobble along with the status quo but, if so, in the future people will suffer mightily and they will hold us responsible for our inaction and indifference to their plight.
Hopefully, the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter Laudato Si’ and this conference in Paris will help the people of the world take an honest look at this problem. It is also an opportunity for us to work together as human beings, despite political and ideological differences, to work for the common good — the common good that will affect all our futures and our children’s futures.
– – –
Now on to the events of my week…
I took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with my family.
As we usually do on Thanksgiving, we celebrated Mass at St. Richard’s Church in Miami.
I’m always very pleased that, in our family, we have a chance to have Mass together and give thanks for the blessings of the year. I’m not able to be with them every year, so was very happy that I was able to join them this year, coming back through Miami from Central America.
There were about 50 of us gathered there and then afterwards we went to my cousins, the Mulligans, for Thanksgiving dinner.
In this photo the family is beginning to come together for a prayer of Thanksgiving. We always offer a prayer of thanksgiving followed by grace for the blessings that our country and our family have received.
Thanksgiving is a very beautiful feast in our country and one that still has a deep religious meaning — being grateful to God for his loving providence and care for us. It is also time that brings families together in a way that other holidays no longer do.
– – –
Also, while I was in Florida, I was asked to celebrate a Mass for the 5th anniversary of the death of Father Armando Llorente, the Spanish Jesuit who is one of the founders of the Agrupación Católica Universitaria.
In fact, Father Llorente was in the news recently. When Pope Francis visited Fidel Castro, he gave him a copy of the writings of Father Llorente, because he had been one of the teachers at the Jesuit school of Belen where Fidel and Raul Castro had studied.
With us at the Mass was Father Willie García-Tuñón, who is the director of Belen high school and is now going to be heading the Agrupación. Also with us was Father Nelson García, the former director, as well as a number of priests from Miami.
With Father Willie
There were at least a couple hundred people at the Mass, which was held outside.
Afterwards, there was an exhibit displayed on the life of Father Llorente. He was certainly an extraordinary man who, after the Cuban Revolution, came to the States and continued the Agrupación here.
He was very instrumental in gathering families together and, through his retreats and preaching with the Agrupación, he was able to keep these families intact and very much involved in the Church. They have a very strong community of families and their ability to pass the faith on to their children is just extraordinary. Out of those families have come many vocations. He did just an extraordinary work of evangelization and turned the Agrupados into evangelizers.
As I told the people, the success of the Spanish Catholic Center in Washington was in great part due to the generosity and participation of all the Agrupados who helped as volunteers in the clinics, and all the other activities. And all this came out of the spiritual vision and discipline that Father Llorente inspired in these families of the Agrupación.
– – –
I was able to visit my family for a couple of days and then, by the weekend, I was back in Boston.
On the First Sunday of Advent I celebrated the closing Mass for the Year of Consecrated Life. There was a wonderful turnout of religious priests, brothers, sisters, consecrated virgins and diocesan hermits.
It was a very beautiful celebration, and afterwards there was a reception for all the members of consecrated life at the Cathedral High gymnasium.
– – –
Then, in the afternoon, we had the Cheverus Awards Vespers Service, at which I presented the Cheverus Medal to over 120 people for their service to the Church in the archdiocese.
The service concluded with the blessing of the Jubilee door that will be opened on December 13, the day that cathedrals throughout the world will open their Holy Doors of Mercy. It is a custom that, during Jubilee years, there be Holy Doors in Rome and that has been extended to cathedrals throughout the world.
I was very moved to see that the Holy Father chose to open the first Holy Door of Mercy in the Central African Republic, where his presence was truly a mission of mercy amidst the violence, war and sectarian hatred that has afflicted the people of that region.
– – –
Each year, when I am able, I like to join the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston for their celebration of the Feast of St. Andrew.
St. Andrew and St. Peter were brothers. St. Andrew is the patron of Constantinople and St. Peter is the patron of Rome and so there is a mutual celebration of their feast days among the Catholics and Orthodox in Boston.
Typically on the Feast of St. Peter, June 29, a delegation of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis will come to our celebration of our patron feast, and then on the Eve of November 30, we will join them for their celebration of the feast of St. Andrew.
We had a Vespers celebration – which lasts about an hour-and-a-half in the Orthodox Church. During the service I had an opportunity to greet the people and convey the greetings of the Roman Catholic community of Boston.
It’s a very beautiful service that includes the blessing of the loaves and the procession of the icon of the saint.
The five loaves are a symbol of St. Andrew who was the disciple who told Jesus, “Look, there is a boy here with five loaves and two fish…” when Jesus fed the 5,000.
– – –
On Monday I was visited by Father Tim Butler who has served for a number of years as an Air Force chaplain and he was home visiting. We are very proud of the wonderful work that all our military chaplains from Boston do serving the Armed Forces.
– – –
Also that day I was visited by the President of Thomas More College, Dr. William Fahey.
It was very good to see him and speak to him about some of the college’s initiatives and plans for the future.
– – –
Wednesday, I was very happy to attend the rededication of the Lower Mills Campus of St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester. The school looks absolutely beautiful.
Mickey Atchinson, in the center, was the inspiration for this renovation. She is between her husband Bob and Jack Sebastian, who were the co-chairs of the fundraising campaign for the renovations.
This is Mark and Dawn Donovan, with Mark’s mother, Elinor Donovan Courtney. Dawn and Mark named a classroom in memory of Mark’s father, Robert. All rooms were named in honor of someone.
The highlight of the morning was the testimony of seventh grader Orianeh Byron-Gabelus, who gave an extraordinary testimony of her faith. It was just a beautiful talk and I know everyone was very moved by it.
We are very proud of the fact that St. John Paul II Catholic Academy is the largest primary school in Boston, bar none.
The team who helped to raise the funds was from Pope St. John Paul II Academy school and Boston Catholic Development Services, including young people who are serving the church.
– – –
Finally, Wednesday evening, we had one of our regular meetings of our recently ordained priests.
One of the things I gave them was a copy of the talk I gave in Rome last month, which was based on their comments to me about the joys and challenges of priestly ministry.
And in honor of the Year for Consecrated Life, we invited some of the recently ordained religious priests in the archdiocese to join our gathering. So we were very happy to be joined by men from the Jesuits, the Redemptorists, the Assumptionists and the Holy Cross Fathers for our Holy Hour and conversation.
Until next week,