Hello and welcome!
This past weekend I was very happy to attend the New York Encounter, a gathering sponsored each year by Communion and Liberation.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to evangelize our university students and young people who are searching for faith in their lives.
There’s always great creativity shown in the programming and in the exhibits that they display.
This event draws thousands of people each year, and I was happy to see many people from Boston, including Father Michael Zimmerman.
I was asked to participate in the opening session, which was dedicated to Pope Benedict.
There was poetry and music performed by pianist Christopher Vath.
There was also a panel discussion that included Dr. Steven Brown from The Catholic University of America; Bishop Steven Raica of Birmingham, Alabama; Father Alex Zenthoefer from Indiana; and myself.
After the panel discussion, Dr. Brown introduced me to his son, who was serving a gelato for attendees. He was doing a great job, and it was wonderful to meet him!
Saturday evening, there was a dinner at which I met some people involved in the Cenaculo Community. It was an opportunity to learn more about the wonderful work they are doing to help people leave behind a life of addiction.
I was also very happy to preside at the closing Mass on Sunday morning. Just before the Mass, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, informed me of the tragic death of Bishop David O’Connell in California. We called Archbishop Gomez right then and there to express our condolences, and we offered the Mass for him.
Concelebrating the Mass with me were a number of priests and bishops, including Archbishop Pierre, Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Archeparchy, Bishop John Barres, and Bishop Erik Varden from Norway.
There are about 1,500 people at the closing Mass. It was very moving.
Of course, many of those attending the gathering were young couples with children involved with the Communion and Liberation movement.
After the Mass, I met with some of the families, and we had a sing-along. It was lovely!
From New York, I went to Washington for the episcopal ordination of Auxiliary Bishops Juan Esposito and Evelio Menjivar.
Seeing these two men become bishops in Washington showed the great change that has taken place since my time working there at the beginning of Hispanic ministry in the archdiocese. As Archbishop O’Boyle said to my provincial at the time: “I have only one diocesan priest that speaks Spanish. Leave that brother here!”
Now, fast-forward, and they have two Hispanic priests of the diocese being made auxiliary bishops. Bishop Esposito is from Argentina, and Bishop Menjivar is the first Salvadoran bishop in the U.S. I know this was a great joy for many of the people of the Archdiocese of Washington since it is home to probably the largest Salvadoran community in the country.
A mark of the importance of this occasion was the presence of bishops from El Salvador, including Bishop José Elías Rauda Gutiérrez, OFM, the bishop of San Vicente (who stayed with us at Capuchin College) and Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, who had been the auxiliary of Msgr. Óscar Romero. Cardinal Gregorio recently wrote a book on his reflections and gave me a copy as a gift.
The Mass took place at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, where I celebrated my first public Mass for the Hispanic community and where I worked for 20 years. The church is not very large (as cathedrals go) but very beautiful.
There’s an altar of the Betrothal of Mary and Joseph where I often had weddings.
The main altar, pulpit, communion rail, and baptistery were all gifts from the Archbishop of Agra, India. It’s all inlaid marble created by the same artisans that worked on the Taj Mahal.
The mosaics in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel were created by John Rosen, who also created the icons in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
I have always been very struck by this mosaic because it shows the two disciples on the way to Emmaus when Christ has disappeared, but they recognize him in the breaking of the bread. It’s a beautiful image because we see the bread is still here with us in the tabernacle, and the bread is Christ.
Wednesday, I returned to Boston and celebrated the evening Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Brigid Parish in South Boston.
It was very impressive to see so many young people. It was standing-room-only, and, with the exception of Ray and Kathy Flynn and myself, it felt like everyone else in the church was under 25 years old!
The presence of so many young Catholics is just another indication of the fine work that is being done at St. Brigid’s and Gate of Heaven by Father Bob Casey with the assistance of Father Chris Boyle and Father Liam Bergin.
Finally, yesterday, the Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, visited me at the cathedral. As regular readers know, the Suarez family have been great friends of mine for many, many years. He was in town for meetings, so he came for the morning Mass and then joined us for breakfast at the rectory.
There was a winter storm that day, so I told him he didn’t pick the best time to come north. But he was very happy to FaceTime his children back in Florida to show them the snow in Boston!
Until next week,