Hello and welcome!
Before I move on to the events of my week, there are a couple of final items from my time in Rome that I’d like to share with you.
On Oct. 29, I visited the Carmelite Sisters of Charity of Vedruna at their generalate in Rome. This is the order of sisters who worked with me for 20 years in Washington. It’s a Catalan community that was started in Barcelona by St. Joaquina Vedruna de Mas. She began working with the famous Capuchin Friar Esteban de Olot, who helped her start the order. Now, there are almost 2,000 sisters all over the world.
I had such a wonderful experience with the sisters in Washington. They were so dedicated to the poor and were such hard workers. When I first started the Centro Católico, people would say, “How many people work there?” And I would answer, “11 – me and a Spanish sister who counts for 10!”
They were just extraordinary women, and later on, they affiliated me with their community. So, I was pleased to have this chance to meet with them.
I also wanted to remember to share this photo I took of the marker on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica that indicates where the Cathedral of the Holy Cross would be if it were placed inside.
It shows it is bigger than the Cathedral of St. Patrick’s in New York, which is, of course, the most important measure!
Last Thursday, I attended a gala at the Seaport Hotel to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Campaign for Catholic Schools. This organization was started to help bolster Catholic schools, particularly those that needed a lot of restructuring and physical improvements. They have raised over $130 million throughout the years, and at the dinner alone, they raised $15 million.
It was a beautiful evening. Students from Trinity Catholic Academy in Brockton and Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester offered the prayers in several different languages. They also had witness talks by alumni of the schools, who spoke about what’s happened to them since have graduated. Many of them gave very beautiful witnesses of their faith, and they really demonstrated how Catholic education has changed their lives radically.
At the dinner, they honored Jack Connors and myself. I received the Jack and Eileen Connors Founders Award, and Jack was presented with the inaugural Jack Connors Good Samaritan Award, which in future years will be given to a student.
Friday, I went to St. Mary’s in Brookline to celebrate the funeral of Father Thomas Oates. Many of his parishioners from the parishes where he had worked gathered for the funeral Mass along with many of his priest friends and relatives, including his sister, Sister Mary Oates, who is a Sister of St. Joseph. Father Unni, who had his first assignment with Father Oates, preached the homily.
Father Oates had a long and faithful priestly ministry. He served as the priest personnel director of the archdiocese and was also a member of the St. James Society, working in Latin America for over 20 years.
From there, I went to Mattapan for the ribbon-cutting of the Morton Station Village housing development. This is another example of the wonderful work that’s being carried out by the archdiocese’s Planning Office for Urban Affairs.
The new development provides 40 new units of affordable housing, and it was a very encouraging sight to see so many community members gathered for the ceremony.
We know that the housing shortage is causing serious displacement. There were 4,000 applicants for those 40 apartments in Morton Station Village, which is just another dramatic indication of how important the POUA’s work of developing low-income housing is.
Friday evening, I joined a vocation retreat at St. John’s Seminary for young adult men. During the course of the weekend, the men participated in the life of the seminary and also visited some local parishes. I joined them for dinner that night, and afterward, I gave them a talk on prayer. Then, we had a time of dialogue.
Our vocations office is doing great work to promote priestly vocations in the archdiocese, and we are very grateful to them.
Saturday morning, I was very happy to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Pastoral Center for our women religious celebrating significant jubilees of religious life.
There were about 25 jubilarians who joined us, though there were many others who were unable to be there because of age or health. Our Delegate for Religious, Sister Germana Santos, told us that the total years of service of all the jubilarians put together was more than 7,800 years — quite an impressive figure!
At the conclusion of the Mass, we always ask one of the jubilarians to give a witness talk. This year, we heard from Franciscan Missionary Sister Jeanette Gaudet, who was celebrating her 60th jubilee.
She gave a very moving talk. She had worked in Papua New Guinea with our Capuchin friars there.
It was a beautiful celebration, and we are very grateful to Sister Germana for bringing this all together.
As the Grand Prior of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre Northeastern Lieutenancy, I was happy to celebrate the investiture ceremony for new members of the order on Saturday evening. The order is growing. This year, there was a very large group of new members, and the bishops of the region joined us for the ceremony.
Afterwards, there was a dinner in Braintree, where the seminarians from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary provided the entertainment.
On Sunday, I went to St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Bridgewater for a Mass to celebrate their 175th anniversary.
I was very surprised to meet St. Thomas Aquinas in the flesh!
It was a lovely celebration and the church was packed. There were a lot of young people there from Bridgewater State University who came with the FOCUS missionaries.
We were also very happy to see a number of the priests who had been stationed at the parish come back to concelebrate with us and be present for the celebration.
It was very interesting to hear the history of the church. It’s still the original church building, which was built by the parishioners themselves right around the time of the Civil War and the famine in Ireland. Despite the fact that the Know-Nothings kept trying to burn the place down, the parishioners would come after work each day and help build the church. It really is a beautiful story of faith, and, of course, it’s still a very vibrant parish today. Father Bill Devine and Father Rodrigo Martinez are doing a great job pastoring the parish, and they are getting about a thousand people at Mass on the weekends.
On Monday, I met with Marilyn Blanchette from the national office of the Pontifical Mission Societies in New York. Boston has always been one of the principal dioceses supporting the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.
The national director, Msgr. Kieran Harrington, is working very aggressively to promote the mission animation aspect of the societies, so Marilyn was here to share some of their plans with me.
Tuesday, I attended the board meeting of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary.
As is often the case these days, we had some board members join us in person, and others by Zoom. They have a very nice room for these meetings in their new library wing.
The seminary is doing very well in the new year, and we heard very positive reports. They had one of the most successful fundraisers in their history with the Lawn Party this year. I’m sorry to have missed it because I was at the synod, but everyone spoke glowingly of it, and it was certainly a financial success for the seminary.
That day, I also met with Lt. General Scott Rice, Governor Maura Healey’s point person for addressing the migrant crisis in Massachusetts. We had a very good meeting with him. He is very committed to finding a safe place for these refugees to stay and brings a lot of expertise and commitment to this new task that the governor has assigned to him.
He asked us to help us identify volunteers and we’re very happy to help. We also spoke to him about our efforts to collect clothing and other essential items with the help of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, and we asked for their help to distribute it to families in need.
That evening, I went back to St. John’s Seminary to participate in one of our regular St. Andrew Dinners. Whereas the weekend retreat was for men who are college-age or older, the St. Andrew Dinner is geared towards young men in high school.
The dinner takes its name, of course, from the story of St. Andrew bringing St. Peter to Christ and helping him discover his vocation. So, we invite these young men from Catholic high schools and the parishes to the seminary to pray and share a meal with the seminarians, hear witness talks, and get a tour of the seminary. I also give them a talk on vocations and answer their questions.
Wednesday, we had one of our semi-annual meetings of the bishops of the Boston Province at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary.
This is an opportunity for the bishops to share what is happening in their dioceses. Bishop Deeley gave us a very moving report about the aftermath of the shootings in Lewiston, Maine and the pastoral response of the diocese and parishes to the people there. We also talked about the challenges of immigration, the seminaries and, of course, the recent synod.
Until next week,