Hello and welcome!
Last Friday afternoon, I met with Tim Phillips of the group, “Beyond Conflict” and his friends Steve and Mary Swig. Tim was very helpful with the Church’s participation in the United States’ improved relationship with Cuba that was achieved earlier this year.
He arranged a meeting with the Swigs to provide them an opportunity to share their thoughts regarding the student debt issue in the U.S. that is having the effect of restricting young people from moving forward in life. It is a particular cause for concern that many are deferring marriage and starting a family because of their high level of student debt. It is our hope that a greater awareness of these issues can lead to developing policies that will help our young people to be making productive contributions to our society.
– – –
That evening Msgr. Frank Kelley, Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Roslindale, hosted an Advent gathering for clergy. It is always enjoyable to gather with fellow priests for socializing and fraternal support. In addition to the presence of priests from various ordination years and assignments, we were all provided a wonderful dinner.
Msgr. Kelley is also a long-standing member of the Board of Directors for the Pine Street Inn and a dedicated supporter of their mission. One of the Inn’s social enterprises is Boston Handy Works which, among other activities, produces presentation-quality cutting boards.
The workers there made a special board for Pope Francis, which I will deliver during the meetings in Rome this week.
Information about purchasing the cutting boards for gifts or personal use can be found at www.BostonHandyWorks.com. All proceeds from the sales go to the Pine Street Inn’s job training programs.
– – –
That evening, we hosted the LIFT Ministry Advent event at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. There were hundreds of young people gathered for the praise and worship service.
In addition to a number of fine musicians, the evening featured a talk by Jackie Francois, a very well-known Catholic speaker.
Before the end of the evening I also offered some remarks on the spirituality of Advent.
I was so pleased to see that so many young people availed themselves of the opportunity to go to confession.
– – –
Saturday morning, we had our annual Women Affirming Life Advent Breakfast here at the Pastoral Center.
I was so happy to see such a large crowd for this important gathering. I was also very encouraged to see that a number of the women who have been involved in Women Affirming Life over the years have also begun to bring their daughters.
We began our day with Mass and afterwards, they heard a reflection by Sister Mary Lyman.
This is always a wonderful gathering, and this year we connected it with the Year of Mercy and our great desire to promote Project Rachel as an important ministry of mercy.
– – –
Then, later that day I went to Quincy for the first profession of two sisters of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth.
This is the first class of novices who are making their temporary profession. We are very happy to see the community continue to grow. In all there are about a dozen sisters in the community between the professed, novices, and postulants.
They have settled into their new home in the convent of St. John the Baptist Parish in Quincy, where Father Bob Cullen has been very generous in receiving the sisters.
– – –
Saturday afternoon in the early evening, there was a Christmas Irish music concert at the Cathedral. The evening featured singer Emmett Cahill.
It was wonderful to see so many hundreds of people come out to support the Cathedral.
– – –
Sunday morning, I gathered at the Pastoral Center for a Mass with several of our strongest Catholic Appeal supporters. It was an opportunity to thank some of our major benefactors and also to explain to them what the priorities and plans of the archdiocese are going forward.
Following our Mass there was a breakfast, which included a talk by Father Paul Soper and myself followed by a question and answer period.
– — –
Sunday afternoon, I celebrated the Memorial Mass for Carolyn Lynch at St. Cecilia Church in Boston. We were very happy to be able to celebrate this Mass with so many members of her family, friends and associates.
Carolyn and Peter Lynch, of course, have been some of the greatest supporters of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston. Through their work, they have provided scholarships for literally thousands of needy Catholic school students over the years. But, in addition to that, she was very involved in many other ways in the Church including serving as a religious education teacher and as a Dame of Malta.
The choir for the Mass was made up of young women from Fontbonne Academy
Two of her grandchildren spoke before the Mass and, at the end of Mass, her daughter read a very touching letter written by Peter to his wife.
It was a very beautiful celebration of a beautiful life of a faithful woman who did so much to help others.
– – –
On Monday afternoon I departed for Rome to attend one of the regular meetings of the Council of Cardinals advising the Holy Father.
Our meeting coincided with the beginning of the Year of Mercy on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and I was able to enter through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and pray for the priests and people of Boston.
The crucifix in front of the altar for the Year of Mercy
That evening they had a very impressive light show in St. Peter’s Square and on the Basilica to mark the beginning of the Year of Mercy. The lights were projected for a couple hours on the façade of Basilica on the dome.
We watched the show from the roof of the North American college where I joined our seminarians from Boston for dinner.
While I was in Rome I also had an opportunity to visit with Father Mauro Jöhri, the Father General the Capuchin Order at the Generalate.
I was also able to celebrate Mass with the staff of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children.
We are well into the season of Advent and signs of preparation for Christmas are everywhere, and Rome is no exception.
The place where I stay when visiting the Vatican (and were the Holy Father has his residence) is the Domus Santa Marta, where they have set up this beautiful Nativity scene.
Until next week,