Hello and welcome!
Last Friday, I met at the cathedral with the Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi, who came accompanied by some of his priests and seminarians. We have a very good relationship with the Archdiocese of Hanoi, and he came to see me because he has had seminarians studying at St. John’s Seminary and would like to send more in the future.
It was nice to have this opportunity to meet him and to speak with him about the situation of the Church in Vietnam and their hopes for the future.
That afternoon, I was very happy to attend the groundbreaking of the new building for St. Benedict’s Classical Academy in Natick.
They had some renderings of what the building is supposed to look like when it is completed, and it looks just stunning.
Headmaster Jay Boren is doing a fabulous job, and their enrollment has grown consistently. We need a Catholic school in Natick, and we’re very glad that they are there. Father Peter Stamm has been acting as their chaplain, and the priests of St. Patrick’s Parish have also been very supportive.
That evening, I had evening prayer and dinner with our transitional deacons who were to be ordained to the priesthood the following day. It was an opportunity to pray and spend time with them. It’s also the time when I give them their assignments and faculties for after their ordination.
I also gave them a gift of sacred oils because the anointing of the sick will be an important part of their priestly ministry.
Saturday was, of course, the presbyteral ordination at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which is always such a joyful occasion for the archdiocese. This year, we ordained five men: Fathers Paul Born, Rodrigo Martinez, Jose Ignacio Montero, Peter Schirripa and Father Alphonsus Vu.
Many, many priests and parishioners joined us, and the cathedral was full. I was also amazed at how many members of the Vietnamese community were with us for the ordination. Luckily, I had prepared a few words in Vietnamese (usually, I’m not so bold!) because I knew that the Mass was being live-streamed to Vietnam, where Father Alphonsus’s family was gathered in their local village church.
Of course, we also had two Hispanics in the group, which is a great blessing as our Hispanic population continues to grow.
Sunday, I went to the Madonna Queen Shrine in East Boston to celebrate confirmations for the Brazilian community.
It was a very large group of several dozen confirmands.
The Don Orione Fathers are doing a wonderful job at the shrine with their ministries to the Hispanic, Brazilian, and Italian communities.
I was very impressed to see that they have also developed a program for autistic children, which is a great blessing. The new director there, Father Marcio, has some experience with this, and they are doing very well with it.
It was a wonderful celebration, and it’s always a joy to be able to celebrate these confirmations.
On Monday, I attended the commencement exercises at Boston College.
The commencement speaker this year was Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova. She is a very impressive person and gave a very stirring address.
Her presence was certainly very timely, given the fact that President Zelenskyy had just been with the Holy Father about a week ago and that the Holy Father is trying to promote conversations that could lead to the de-escalation of the war in Ukraine.
That afternoon, I also had the Mass and commencement for St. Johns Seminary’s Lay Formation Program, which awards the Master of Arts in Ministry and Master of Theological Studies degrees.
We had five graduates this year, including three of our permanent deacons. I’m happy to see our deacons using this as a form of ongoing formation.
In my remarks, I congratulated the graduates, of course, but I also thanked their families for their support and for making the sacrifices that allowed the graduates to pursue their studies.
We are so grateful to director Dr. Anthony Coleman and to all the faculty and staff who work so hard to make this program a great success.
Each year, shortly after the ordination, we like to host a luncheon to bring together the newly ordained priests, their loved ones, formators, and the pastors of the parishes where they will be stationed. So, we gathered at the Pastoral Center on Tuesday.
It’s always a very nice opportunity to be with the new priests and their families and hear about their first Masses and their initial experiences of priesthood.
Wednesday, I went to St. John the Baptist Church in Quincy to visit our employees who were taking part in our annual Service Week. This is a week we set aside each year, during which teams of staff members from the Pastoral Center volunteer to help beautify one of our local parishes.
This year, they were working at the churches of St. J’s Collaborative in Quincy, where Father Matt Williams is pastor. There was quite a crew there, and they did a lot of landscaping and painting. There were about 20 or so staff members present, though, over the course of the week, more than 100 volunteers participated.
Father Matt gave me a tour of the parish and the grounds.
The parish looked just fabulous, and you could tell they had done a lot of work.
During my visit, I was put in charge of a hydrangea!
Father Matt also showed me a building that they hope to make into a perpetual adoration chapel, which will be right next to their food pantry.
We stopped in at the rectory, and it was good to see Father Tom DiLorenzo, Father Arthur Wright and Father Joseph Kwadwo.
We had a beautiful day. So, our Pastoral Center workers were happy to be outside enjoying nature, beautifying the parish grounds, and being able to spend some time with each other.
From there, I returned to the Pastoral Center for a Mass and luncheon for our jubilarian priests who are celebrating 25 years of ordination.
Anniversary celebrations are an important time to celebrate the priesthood and to thank and encourage our priests who have served so selflessly. It’s also a time to thank God for the gift of the priesthood and the Church that allows the Eucharist to be celebrated and the pastoral love of the Good Shepherd to be present everywhere and at all times.
Until next week,