Hello, welcome and special greeting to all our veterans on Veteran’s Day!
Last Thursday, I was visited by Consuelo Isaacson of Friends of Caritas Cubana, who came accompanied by Carmen María Nodal Martínez, the new national director of Caritas Cubana. Carmen was in the States for a fundraising event that Consuelo had organized in New York.
Friends of Caritas Cubana was started here in Boston but raises money nationwide and is probably the largest private source of funding for works of mercy in Cuba, particularly around food assistance and care for the elderly.
Things are very challenging in Cuba, particularly in light of the recent storms and the fire that destroyed so much of the infrastructure for fuel on the island. So, there are great challenges because of the lack of electricity, food and medicine, and Caritas Cubana is working very hard to address these shortages.
Friday, I went to Cambridge Matignon High School for a Mass to mark the school’s 75th anniversary and install the new headmaster, Dr. Paul Manuel.
We were pleased to be joined at the Mass by Abbott Mark Cooper, chancellor of St. Anselm College, where Dr. Manuel studied and worked.
It was a beautiful celebration, and students from St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge sang beautifully at the Mass. And, of course, I gave the students a free day, which they were all very happy to accept!
That evening, I joined a vocation event for young men at St. John’s Seminary. This year, we are structuring the vocation retreats a bit differently. There will be a couple of these retreats, and this one was initiated at the seminary but also involved taking the young men to different parishes.
They heard witness talks by many of the seminarians, and I was so pleased to see the enthusiasm of the men who joined us.
Saturday, I was visited by Dr. Lorenzo Berra, a member of the Memores Domini, a group of consecrated laymen of the Communion and Liberation movement.
Lorenzo had just returned from their meeting with the Holy Father and was anxious to share with me how well that went. He also told me that they will have new members coming to their residence in Cambridge. I was very pleased to hear that because many of the members who had been there in the past have been reassigned.
That afternoon, I went to the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Manchester, New Hampshire, for the Mass of Investiture for the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. We had the Rite of Induction followed by the Mass for the Exultation of the Holy Cross.
Of course, this was our first post-pandemic induction, and there were many new inductees, including John and Cathy White from the cathedral. It was a grand celebration.
Like Boston, Manchester has also recently renovated their cathedral. It is very beautiful, and I congratulated Bishop Libasci and the rector for the fine job that they have done.
Sunday, I was pleased to celebrate our annual Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. It’s always a wonderful celebration, and I consider it a very important opportunity to honor and recognize these couples who have persevered in the vocation of marriage.
As I mentioned in my homily, decades ago, only about 20 percent of the U.S. population was single, but now that figure is closer to 50 percent. So, the witness of the vocation of marriage is an especially important one in today’s world.
During the Mass, we hold a renewal of marriage vows. As I told the couples, in my Capuchin community we have the custom of renewing our vows every week. I said renewing our vows is an opportunity to reflect on our vocation and to recommit ourselves to it.
That evening, I had a dinner with a group of parishioners from Immaculate Conception Parish in Marlborough. All of them are very much involved life of the Church, and it was an opportunity to hear about their ministries and experiences.
Of course, it was also an opportunity to enjoy a fine meal and sing together, which I always very much enjoy.
Monday, I had another of my meetings with a class of our seminarians. This time, I met with the men in their third year of theology studies. This is the group who will be ordained deacons next year, and it is one of our biggest classes.
We prayed Vespers together, and then we had a meal, followed by a lengthy conversation about many topics. Among them, they shared experiences of their pastoral assignments and their adventures with the basketball team. (They assured me that this year they are almost certain to be the champions!)
It’s always a great joy to be with the seminarians and also to see how well they get along with each other. There is such a wonderful spirit of fraternity in the seminary!
Then on Wednesday, I participated by Zoom in a meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors with the leadership of the Canadian bishops’ conference who were in Rome.
It was an opportunity for me to congratulate them on the success of the Holy Father’s penitential pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation with indigenous peoples survivors of Canada’s residential school system. Of course, that visit culminated in a historic apology by the Holy Father for the Church’s role in the residential school system.
I was amazed at how much coverage the visit received in the United States — much more than many of the Holy Father’s other foreign visits. For us in the States, it was certainly a catechesis about safeguarding, repentance, and respect for the elderly and the sick. I told the Holy Father that I think that was one of his most successful trips.
I also spoke to the bishops about the number of institutions the Church runs for young people in the Southern Hemisphere. It is estimated that there are 35,000 Church-affiliated institutions worldwide involved in offering primary care to vulnerable teenagers and children, the majority of which are in the Global South. The commission’s urgent priority is to ensure that the local Churches provide a culturally sensitive standard of care and that there is oversight, particularly in the area of safeguarding. Our commission intends to do this through a system of centers that will be providing safeguarding policy development, oversight of complaint management, and victim/survivor assistance.
Wednesday, we were joined by about 200 priests for our annual Fall Presbyteral Convocation at St. Camillus in Arlington. It was an opportunity for us to discuss our pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission.
There were talks by Father Michael Rora and Father Carlos Suarez. Then, there was a time of table discussion and shared reports on people’s experience of the pastoral planning process and also recommendations for next steps. I concluded our gathering with a conference on prayer in the life of the priest.
Finally, I want to share with you some photos from an event that took place at the cathedral on Oct. 30.
That Sunday, the director of the Vatican Observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno S.J., was at the cathedral to give a public lecture, which was very well received.
After his talk, he gave me a copy of his book.
He also presented Msgr. Kevin O’Leary and me with the gift of photos of star systems taken by the Vatican telescope. They are very interesting!
Until next week,