Hello and welcome!
My good friend Pablo Eduardo came to visit me recently, and it was great to be able to catch up with him. The family is from Bolivia, and his father was the editor of El Pregonero, my newspaper in Washington, D.C.
He has a studio in Gloucester and does a great deal of religious artwork. He is presently working on some pieces for the new Christ Cathedral of Orange County, California.
Locally, he’s done a number of projects at Boston College, such as statues of St. Thomas More and St. Ignatius. He has also done work for some of our parishes, creating beautiful tabernacles, crucifixes and Stations of the Cross.
Last Thursday evening, I met via Zoom with a new support group for Hispanic priests that has been formed by Father Americo Santos of Holy Redeemer Parish in East Boston. I always encourage our priests to form support groups to promote their own spirituality and a sense of fraternity. So, I was very pleased that Father Americo is taking this initiative.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to be with them via Zoom, and I look forward to the day when I can join them personally for one of their gatherings.
Sunday, I visited the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Roxbury. It’s a very old monastery, and they have been a constant presence in that neighborhood for generations. It’s been quite a while since I last visited them, so I was happy to go there for Mass.
We are blessed with the presence of five contemplative communities of sisters in the archdiocese, and they are a great blessing for us. So, I was happy for this opportunity to be with them. After the Mass, we had coffee together and a dialogue about religious life and the state of the Church. It was just wonderful to catch up with the sisters. They have a young postulant and a number of women who are in the process of discerning with them. That was very encouraging news.
Monday, I went to St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Roxbury for our annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In years past, the celebration would be held as a Prayer Breakfast. However, this year, because of the pandemic, it was held as an interreligious prayer service. It was mostly an online event, though there were a small number of people present, including John Dolan of St. Mary’s in Lynn. It was very good to see him. He introduced me to Brandon Mayes who plays in the band that supports the Archdiocesan Choir. Brandon has played with the Choir for 10 years and he is also the music director at St. Mary’s.
The Archdiocesan Black Catholic Choir was there and sang many beautiful hymns. They had a number of people do readings from the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King. And, of course, Father Oscar Pratt was the emcee for the service.
The service featured four speakers who offered reflections on the legacy of Dr. King: myself; Kayla August, a young woman from Louisiana who is a graduate student at Boston College; Rev. James Hairston, the BC campus minister for multi-faith programs; and Imam Abdullah Faaruuq of the Islamic Center of Boston.
It was an opportunity for us to pray with people from other faiths, and it was a wonderful way for us to observe this very special day. Last year we weren’t able to have a celebration, so we were grateful to be able to mark this holiday, which is so important, particularly in light of the fact that the country is still convulsed by racial strife.
On Tuesday, I left for Washington, D.C. to participate in events around the annual March for Life.
I was pleased that so many bishops were able to join us, along with a large number of priests and seminarians. This year, we had a great many Orthodox bishops join us, as well, including the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and our own Metropolitan Methodios of Boston. Their presence is always a sign of solidarity.
We had thought that the crowd might be limited because there was a permitting process, and we didn’t know what the limits would be, but we were very, very pleased to see so many priests, seminarians, religious and young people with us at the Mass. As always, the large number of young people in attendance was so encouraging.
It was wonderful having our new chairman of the pro-life committee, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, celebrate the Mass for us. He gave a wonderful reflection in his homily. Archbishop Lori pointed out the Sisters of Life and commended them and the other religious women for the pro-life ministry that they carry out so wonderfully in the name of the Church.
In other years, following the Mass, our seminarians would have been involved in holy hours throughout the night. This year, however, there was a holy hour and rosary immediately following the Mass, after which the Basilica was closed until the following morning when we had the Closing Mass.
I was honored to be asked to celebrate the Closing Mass and was pleased to have Bishop Robert Deeley of Maine and Archbishop Lori concelebrate with me.
Like the evening before, there was a very large crowd, with many priests and young people including, of course, our pro-life pilgrims from Boston. Several hundred of them came with their schools, and our Superintendent of Catholic schools, Tom Carroll, was also with us for the Mass.
We are so grateful to Colleen Donohoe, who did so much to make this pro-life youth pilgrimage a reality. During their time in Washington, they have had a wonderful program. Thursday night, they had Mass and dinner at our Capuchin church in Washington, Sacred Heart. Then, there were events of today with the morning Mass and the March for Life, and on Saturday, they’ll be visiting the Franciscan Monastery for Mass and a tour of the shrine.
I like to say that, in many ways, the March for Life is a great crossroads of Catholicism. I always have the opportunity to meet new and interesting people and run into old friends and acquaintances that I haven’t seen in years. For example, this year, I was very pleased that some people who had been adopted came up to talk about my homily at the Closing Mass, in which I spoke about the need to celebrate adoption. It was nice to hear their stories.
Then, another woman came up to me, who turned out to be the niece of one of the sisters that I worked with in the Virgin Islands. I hadn’t heard anything about that sister in years, and sure enough, her niece who lives in Washington wanted to take a picture with me to send to her aunt.
It’s always an interesting experience!
Until next week,