Hello and welcome!
As I do each year during Holy Week, I am posting my blog a day early so as to leave myself free for the celebrations of the Sacred Triduum.
Last Friday, I was accompanied by Father Bryan Hehir and George Cronin of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference for a meeting with Mayor Wu at Boston City Hall. It was my first sit-down meeting with her since she’s taken office and was an opportunity to discuss various initiatives that the archdiocese, Catholic schools, and Catholic Charities are involved in.
It was a very productive meeting, and I was very happy to have this opportunity to have this chance to speak with the mayor.
Saturday, as part of my work with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, I participated in a Zoom call with Laureen Lynch-Ryan and Ian Robertson of the group Deaf Catholic Youth Initiatives for the Americas.
They work mostly in Latin America and are very concerned with the very high rate of abuse among deaf children there — they say that rate is about 50 percent. They also told me that, particularly in Latin America, relatively few parents of deaf children ever learn how to sign. This means, of course, that communication between the children and their parents is very limited.
Their hope is that the Commission can help them set up a conference on safeguarding for their organization serving deaf people in the Americas, particularly Central America.
Also, that day, I was visited by Father Mattias, the provincial of the Cape Verdean Capuchins who are working here in the archdiocese. He was making his provincial visit and came by to see me accompanied by Father John Currie, the pastor of St. Patrick’s in Roxbury.
By chance, this was the same weekend that the president of Cape Verde was visiting the area, and all the news articles were reminding us that Massachusetts has the largest Cape Verdean population in the United States. So, we are so grateful to the Cape Verdean friars who help us to minister to this population in the archdiocese.
Sunday was, of course, Palm Sunday, and we had beautiful celebrations at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and were so very pleased to welcome so many people to the cathedral.
I celebrated the 11:30 English Mass.
At the 9:30 Spanish Mass, they had a very large procession with hundreds of people participating. Msgr. O’Leary was very disappointed he wasn’t able to get a donkey, but it did not prevent the faithful from coming in large numbers!
The youth group from St. Mary’s in Waltham likes to come each year to visit the cathedral on Palm Sunday. So, I was happy to greet them and give them a short talk and blessing in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
Monday, I went to Plymouth to attend the wake of James Greer Sr., the father of Deacon Jim Greer, who does such wonderful work coordinating all our chaplaincy programs.
I was pleased to be able to lead a small prayer service with the family and friends who were gathered and express my condolences.
As we do each year on the Tuesday of Holy Week, we celebrated our annual Chrism Mass at the cathedral.
We had a good crowd of priests, deacons, and religious along with some students from some of our Catholic schools.
Unfortunately, Metropolitan Methodios could not be with us this year because he is currently in Constantinople for meetings with the Ecumenical Patriarch. It was the first time in many years he wasn’t able to be there, and he was missed. However, I very much look forward to joining him for his celebration of Orthodox Easter, which will be coming up on April 16.
For me, this is one of the most important celebrations of the year because, in so many ways, it betokens the unity of the Church. There, together with the priests and bishops, we blessed the sacred oils that will be used in the sacraments — baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and ordinations —conducted throughout the next year. It’s also a moment when we renew our ordination promises and recommit ourselves to our vocation and ministry in the Church.
In that spirit of unity and fraternity, this year we took the occasion at the Chrism Mass to welcome Father Joseph Boafo and Father Peter Shen, who were incardinated into the archdiocese this year. After the celebration, a number of the priests commented that they very much liked this new practice, which recognized their presence as new members of our presbyterate.
Afterward, we had a luncheon for the priests and deacons in the gymnasium of Cathedral High School.
It was good to be able to greet and chat with many of our priests.
That afternoon, I went to visit Mary Travers at Marist Hill in Waltham. Mary was our cook at the cathedral for many years, and her son Bobby is very involved in the Cathedral Parish. She’s had some health problems of late and is at rehab at Marist Hill. So, we wanted to go to see her and wish her a blessed Holy Week and Easter.
Finally, last night, we had our celebration of Tenebrae at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
The liturgical documents call for the public celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours at the cathedral during Holy Week. So, here in the archdiocese, one of the ways that we do that is by praying Tenebrae, which comes from the Divine Office. (Another way is with the praying of Compline after our Holy Thursday celebrations.)
As the readings and the Psalms are recited, candles on the hearse (sort of a candelabra) are extinguished one by one until the church is in darkness. The liturgy then has a very dramatic conclusion: the strepitus, a very low, sustained piece played on the organ.
Tenebrae includes very beautiful traditional music, and the choir always does an extraordinary job.
This year, Deacon Michael Joens gave the reflection.
It was a beautiful celebration and a very good way to propel us into the celebration of the Triduum.
Until next week,