Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday evening, I attended the Diamonds of Dorchester Gala to benefit the St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children.
This year, instead of honoring an individual, they honored all those who have been served by the Center. This was a wonderful idea because it gave them an opportunity to showcase the transformational services they provide for mothers and children, helping them turn their lives around.
Of course, with us for the evening was director Alexis Steel, and several of the former directors, as well.
Our emcee was Paula Eben of WBZ. She told us that she was one of 11 children and that, when she was growing up, her parents would take in young women who were experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
She was very glowing in her remarks about her parents, and it sounds like she came from just a wonderful Catholic family. So, it was very nice to hear the witness of her life, as well.
It was a very successful evening and we are all very proud of what the Church is doing for these mothers and children by providing housing, education, and opportunities for job training.
Friday, I went to Ursuline Academy in Dedham for a Mass to mark the school’s 75th anniversary. The Mass was on the Feast of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. As I told them at the Mass, when Columbus arrived in the Virgin Islands, he named them for St. Ursula and the virgins.
It was wonderful to meet several of the young women.
The school is still sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters, and they do a wonderful job maintaining the spirit and ideals of St. Angela Merici, the foundress of the Ursulines. As I told the young women, my mother studied at Ursuline College, and I also knew Sister Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline Sister from Cleveland who was one of the churchwomen murdered in El Salvador.
It was a wonderful occasion and I was very happy to be a part of their anniversary celebration.
Saturday, I took part in our annual Social Justice Convocation, which was held in a virtual format once again this year. The theme was “Migrants and Refugees, Who are They, Where are They?”
We began our gathering with a Mass that I celebrated in the CatholicTV studios. Then, I joined our online host, Deacon Timothy Donahue, to provide some introductory remarks.
During the course of the convocation, we heard a keynote address by Sean Callahan, the president of Catholic Relief Services. He gave a very moving talk about the work of CRS with refugees.
We also heard from Marjean Perhot of Catholic Charities of Boston who spoke about some of their work assisting refugees who have arrived in our local area.
It was very uplifting day, and we are very grateful to Pat Dinneen and Father Bryan Hehir for organizing this convocation again this year.
That afternoon, I went to Quincy for a Mass to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Church of St. Ann, which is a worship site of Divine Mercy Parish.
It was a very joyful celebration. We were, of course, joined by the pastor, Father Louis Palmieri, as well as several former priests from the parish, including Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, Maine, who returned for the celebration.
During the Mass, I blessed their beautiful new pulpit.
On Sunday, I went to St. Agnes in Arlington for a celebration of the parish’s 150th anniversary. They have a very beautiful church and it is certainly one of the oldest parishes in the archdiocese.
As at St. Ann’s, a number of priests from the parish came back to be there for the Mass.
Father Marc Bishop is the pastor and they are doing excellent work there with the parish and the school.
The music program was spectacular, and I was very happy to be there to help them celebrate the anniversary of their parish.
That evening, I departed for Spain for a conference I was giving at the Pontifical University of Salamanca.
My flight landed in Madrid. So, on the day I arrived, I had a chance to spend some time in the city. We visited the largest park in the city, El Retiro, which has an artificial pond where people can rent a rowboat.
We also passed by Plaza de la Cibeles. So I took this picture of the fountain, which depicts the Roman goddess Cybele, the goddess symbol of earth, agriculture and fertility.
And we had a chance to see the very historic Church of San Ginés. Playwright Lope de Vega was married there, poet Francisco de Quevedo was baptized there and composer Tomás Luis de Victoria is buried there.
I was also very happy to visit with two young women whom I baptized many years ago as part of my Portuguese ministry in Washington D.C. They now live in Madrid, and it was nice to be able to see them again.
From there, I went to Salamanca to give the three-day conference entitled “Prayer in a world that suffers.”
When I arrived, I was greeted by the Bishop of Salamanca José Luis Retana, rector Mirian Cortés, and professor Miguel Anxo Pena, who also participated in the conference.
They have a beautiful chapel there, which dates back 300 years to when this part of the university was a Jesuit seminary. So, they have images of St. Ignatius and other Jesuit saints throughout the artwork. It’s just a spectacular old building.
The altar is stunning with a golden retablo.
In the lower portion of this picture of the cathedral, you see a building that was formerly the Irish College. There is still a Scottish College there, and there is also English College in Valladolid.
These seminaries were established by the bishops of England, Ireland and Scotland during the persecution, when they couldn’t run seminaries in the British Isles. The Irish have closed their seminary, but the Scots are still there.
While I was at the University, they announced that they will be presenting me with an honorary doctorate. They will also be presenting an honorary doctorate to Patriarch Bartholomew I, so they will look for a date when we can both be present to receive it. It is very humbling to be honored alongside Patriarch Bartholomew and to receive this degree from this university, which is so important in the history of Spain.
From Spain, I traveled to Rome for meetings and activities related to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at the end of this week.
Since those are still underway, I will share the details with you next week.