Hello and welcome!
Friday, I went to Pittsburgh to attend the wake and funeral of one of my classmates, Father Jonathan Williams. The celebration was held at St. Augustine Church, where we made our first professions and were ordained, which was very moving.
Our novitiate class
Father Jonathan was from Kansas and worked for several years in the Appalachians of West Virginia, in a very rural parish where he lived in a trailer with another one of our classmates. Then, he went off to Papua New Guinea, where he worked for 40 years and was recently the provincial. However, he became sick with Parkinson’s and tuberculosis, so he came home. The last time I had an opportunity to see him was a few months ago at our province chapter.
One of the brothers crafted his coffin
Sunday, I went to St. Rose Parish in Topsfield to celebrate their Family Mass with Father Dan Hennessey and Father Karlo Hocursak. It was very encouraging to see so many young families and such a large number of children.
At the Family Mass, they follow the same practice I had in my parish when I was a priest: They have the Liturgy of the Word with the little children, and then, afterward, they go to another place.
As you can see from the photos, they still had their Christmas decorations up, following the tradition, still observed in many countries, that the Christmas Season extends to Candlemas Day, February 2.
You may also have noticed the two paintings on either side of the sanctuary.
I like them very much, not only because they depict St. Peter trying to walk on the water and the Flight into Egypt, but because they are actually used to cover TV screens. The screens are sometimes used if they have a teaching Mass or want to project the readings or the hymns. I thought it was a very clever idea!
During my visit, Father Dan told me that one of their initiatives since the pandemic is offering people house blessings. He said how gratified he is that so many people have taken advantage of inviting him and Father Karlo to come to visit their homes. And, of course, when people hear that their neighbors are having a house blessing, they ask for one, too. I thought that was a wonderful way to connect with parishioners.
Monday, I had one of my regular meetings with a class of our seminarians. This time, I met with the group in second theology. As always, we met for Vespers, dinner, and a time of conversation.
I very much enjoy these opportunities to get to know the seminarians better, hear about their ministries in the parishes, and talk to them about issues that are important to them. They were very excited to tell me about the upcoming basketball tournament that will be held in Milwaukee, and I told them that I’m hoping they’ll bring a trophy back to the seminary!
Tuesday, I was visited by Father Carlos Flor, the pastor of the Jamaica Plain-Roxbury Collaborative.
They are doing a remodeling of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, and he brought with him artist David Lopez and the team who are helping him with this project. They asked me to meet with them and give them my blessing, and I was happy to oblige.
Tuesday, we had a meeting of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public-policy arm of the four dioceses in the Commonwealth.
The MCC is a very important institution that facilitates communication among the dioceses on many key issues such as social justice questions, education, and life issues. We are very grateful for the coordination MCC director Jim Driscoll provides for these efforts.
Wednesday, I was very happy to visit Malden Catholic, where I celebrated a Mass to mark Catholic Schools Week.
The liturgy was very well celebrated. We were joined by a number of priests, including Fathers John Mullot, Eric Cadin, Paul Coughlin and David Campo as well as MC President John Thornburg and Brother Thomas Puccio.
It was a wonderful visit, and there is a great atmosphere in the school. I was very impressed by how friendly the students were and the social graces they exhibited. I was also happy to see that the school is thriving under their new instructional model. They have an interesting system there, which is not exactly coed but where boys and girls attend classes separately but come together to share resources and attend important events. It’s working out very well, and they have almost 800 students enrolled.
Yesterday morning, I went to St. Michael Church in Hudson to attend the wake of their former pastor, Father Ron Calhoun, who passed away after battling cancer for several years.
With us, of course, were a number of his family and friends, as well as several priests who concelebrated the Funeral Mass following the wake. Among them were Father Ren Tocci, the current administrator of St. Michael’s, and Father Robert Rochon from Providence, who had given such good care to Father Calhoun at the end of his life.
Following the wake, I went to Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston for a meeting of the Board of Trustees. The meeting was held in a hybrid format, wherein those who couldn’t attend in person joined us via Zoom on a large screen in the seminary’s multimedia room. It worked out very well, and there was great participation.
Of course, we are very proud of the wonderful formation that is imparted to second-career candidates at Pope St. John XXIII. And we are grateful for the very active Board of Trustees — men and women who bring their expertise and dedication to help advance the mission of the seminary.
Thursday evening, I attended a dinner hosted by Father Bob Casey at St. Brigid’s in South Boston for Bishop Andherson Franklin Lustoza de Souza of the Diocese of Vitória, Brazil. When he was studying in Rome, Bishop Franklin would spend his summers helping out at St. Brigid’s, and he was named auxiliary bishop in his diocese last year. He is on his summer vacation now (remember, it’s summer in Brazil), so he came up to visit Father Casey.
I had met him in the past, and, of course, I know his archbishop from the retreats that I have given to the bishops of Brazil, so it was very good to see him again.
Finally, today is the Feast of our Lady of Suyapa, the patroness of Honduras.
So, I want to send a special greeting and blessing to all our Honduran parishioners on their patronal feast day!
Until next week,