Hello and welcome,
I would like to begin this week sharing with you the statement I released Wednesday regarding the verdict in the case of former officer Derek Chauvin:
The killing of George Floyd has had a traumatic impact on our society. The suffering he endured and the immense loss his family has experienced speaks to us on a very human level.
The death of Mr. Floyd in a very public and raw manner catapulted this case into the conscience of the nation. The resulting anger and protest that culminated in the trial and conviction of Derek Chauvin is one important step in the process of addressing the broader issues facing our country in terms of racism, a criminal justice system many feel needs reform and the reality of living as a person of color in America.
As a nation we must face these issues with a real desire built on a foundation that values human life. We have a moral responsibility to not let George Floyd’s death become a distant memory in the years ahead but a force for building communities of love, acceptance and fellowship. It is not enough to simply want to end racial injustice, we are called to work towards that goal. We can begin that process by each of us examining our own conscience and considering how we can help heal our nation.
We call on all members of our Church to embrace the Gospel ideals Christ has taught us by working to change hearts and to promote healing and unity in our country.”
On Friday, I traveled to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to be present for the ordination of the new bishop, Bishop Jerome Feudjio. He is the fourth bishop of the Virgin Islands since I left in 1992.
Two of the bishops who followed me have died, Bishop Elliot Thomas and Bishop George Murry, S.J. Bishop Herbert Bevard retired recently because of ill health and has been replaced by a priest of the Diocese of St. Thomas, Father Jerome, who I ordained many years ago.
It was wonderful to be back in the Virgin Islands. I have gone back very few times in the decades since I left, usually for a funeral or the installation of a bishop. This was a very happy occasion.
The cathedral looks beautiful. It’s where I was ordained a bishop. I was actually the first bishop ordained in that cathedral.
There is an Irish bishop buried there from the 1800s who was bishop of Dominica. At that time, the Virgin Islands was part of the Diocese of Dominica.
Redemptorist Father Edward Harper, the first bishop of the Virgin Islands, was buried there as well.
He was the prelate of the Virgin Islands before it became a diocese. It was part of the Diocese of San Juan in Puerto Rico, where Bishop Harper had worked as a Redemptorist priest and was a provincial there. He is the one who ordained me in the cathedral. He himself had been ordained at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston. He was bishop in the Virgin Islands a very long time, about 25 years, and I followed him.
I was delighted to see many people I knew from my days as the bishop there. One of my classmates who has helped out there in the past, Father Simeon Gallagher, was also there for the occasion, and I was happy to see Father Jose Herrera who was also a priest I ordained many years ago. He has been a chaplain in the armed services and was back for the ordination of Father Jerome.
The weather was interesting when we arrived last Friday. There were some very dark clouds caused by the ash from volcanic eruptions on St. Vincent Island. The next day it was a very clear, beautiful sky. Of course, it was quite a contrast with Boston. My flight was delayed two hours because of the snow here that day, and they had to deice the wings of our plane. Then getting off the plane in the Virgin Islands it was 85 degrees and sunny.
I was amazed to see the number of visitors that there are in the Virgin Islands, despite the fact that they still have no cruise ships coming to and from the islands, which of course is a big part of the tourism there.
It was a journey down Memory Lane, as it were. I was very happy to be there with the people and the other bishops for the ordination. The nuncio was also there, and of course Archbishop Wilton Gregory. He is the metropolitan because, by some strange work of history, the Virgin Islands are actually the only suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Washington. So even though it’s 2,000 miles away and closer to Venezuela than to Miami, it is a suffragan see of Washington.
I have known Bishop Jerome Feudjio for a long time. In fact, I was the one who put him in the seminary and ordained him for the Diocese of St. Thomas. I’m very proud and happy to see that he has been ordained the Bishop of St. Thomas. He has spent his entire priesthood serving the people there. He is originally from Cameroon and was living in Washington, D.C. where he has family. He was an immigrant to the United States when I met him. As a layman, he actually helped me to start the Haitian Ministry at Sacred Heart Church in Washington, D.C.
Some of his relatives from Cameroon came to the ordination. They had a beautiful ceremony with a procession bringing the Gospel books in. They were all, of course, in their native costumes. It was lovely.
The Mass of Ordination was broadcast by EWTN.
Wednesday, back in Boston, I met with the superiors of the Ursuline Sisters via Zoom. It was a meeting to talk about their plans on how to maintain their identity and spirituality in the schools sponsored by their province. They have a school in Dedham, Ursuline Academy, and their president was also present.
I told them that my mother was a beneficiary of their community. She studied at Ursuline College many years ago, which is a college that they run in Cleveland. We’re very grateful for the presence of Ursuline Academy, which originally was on Commonwealth Avenue and then moved to larger quarters in Dedham.
Wednesday and Thursday I had the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. All of our members from all over the world attended. Of course, for some of them it was late at night, for others it was very early in the morning. Thanks to Zoom we were able to do that. A couple of our people were in Rome with the commission staff, including Professor Ernesto Caffo from Italy and Professor Miriam Wijlens from Holland. The rest of us were on the Zoom connection from all over the world.
We heard reports on the different activities that we have been involved in, particularly the recent seminar at Harvard and the meeting on safeguarding with the Brazilian bishops. It was a very good meeting.
It was the first meeting that Juan Carlos Cruz attended as a new member from the United States by way of Chile. And it was the last plenary session that Monsignor Oliver was with us, so we were very anxious to express our gratitude to him for the many years of service and his dedication to working for safeguarding in the Church.
Until next week