Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

Archive for 2007/05/04


Catholic University dinner, dealing with city violence and the launch of our annual appeal

Before I share some of my weekly activities with you, I want to bring to your attention that next week the Massachusetts Legislature is scheduled to meet in Constitutional Convention to discuss a ballot initiative that would allow Massachusetts citizens to vote next year on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. We have sent the following announcement to all parishes to be printed in this weekend�s bulletins. I also want to share it with you here:

The Marriage Amendment will again be before the Constitutional Convention of the Massachusetts Legislature, scheduled for Wednesday, May 9, 2007.

Society has a moral responsibility for the good of future generations to commit strongly to the institution of marriage as it has been recognized from time immemorial.

Each of us must exercise our rights as citizens, and urge our legislators to vote to move the Marriage Amendment to the 2008 ballot and allow every citizen�s voice to be heard.

Contact your Senator and Representative at 617-722-2000.

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I never thought that I would live long enough to visit Las Vegas. I was surprised when it was announced that Catholic University would be having their annual fundraising dinner there. As a cardinal, a member of the board of directors and an alumnus of the university, I felt it important that I participate in this event that raises 1 million dollars for student scholarships at that fine institution.

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Do you want to know who we all are?
Pictured in front, from left: Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio, Detroit Cardinal Adam J. Maida, Bishop Joseph A. Pepe of Las Vegas, Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. In back, from my left: New York Cardinal Edward M. Egan, Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, Vincentian Father David M. O’Connell, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.

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Greeting the guests

Las Vegas is certainly an unusual place, being an oasis of hotels and casinos in the middle of a desert. Father Brian and I arrived in Las Vegas at 11 p.m. on Thursday, and the airport was packed with people. It is also full of slot machines. I thought we had landed in the casino! Of course, people were very curious to see two priests getting off the plane.

I have always publicly opposed casino gambling, not that gambling is of itself sinful, but the great harm that can come from the addiction to gambling is a terrible evil. The economy that casinos generate is unhealthy, and often has a detrimental effect on public morality.

Prior to the benefit dinner, we had a beautiful Mass with a wonderful choir at the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer, which is right on the strip. The strip of hotels in Las Vegas is sort of an adult Disneyland. From the parking lot, you see the pyramid and the sphinx � that is not in Egypt, that is Las Vegas. When you walk down that street, you leave the pyramid behind and quickly come upon the Statue of Liberty. Then, you leave the Statue of Liberty and you are at the Eiffel tower. Then, towards the end of the strip, you arrive at St. Mark�s Square, and you are in the middle of Venice with gondolas and all. It is quite a fantasy land.

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There you see the pyramid and the sphinx. With me is Father Mark Serna, who is the retired abbot of Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island.

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He has been a friend of mine since my days in Fall River. His parents live in Las Vegas, so he is there on a temporary assignment doing work at the Stillpoint Center for Spiritual Development, small center for retreats and spiritual direction. There is a great need for that ministry in the midst of all the materialism as well as the atmosphere of gambling and entertainment that is overwhelming in a place like Las Vegas.

It is encouraging to see the life of the Church there, which is new and growing fast. They do not have religious houses or many of the religious institutions we are used to in more established dioceses. The enthusiasm and the love for the Church is obvious, and Bishop Joe Pepe is beloved by his people.

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The dinner and Mass for Catholic University were a great success. The Mass was well-attended by people who had come to the dinner as well as the local Catholic community. Many Catholics in Las Vegas are originally from the Philippines. There were some students at the dinner, and I spoke with them about the importance of Catholic education in their life. Some of them sang and performed for the guests. Many of the cardinals were there, the nuncio spoke and at the end of the meal I addressed the people to invite them to Boston next year � the 2008 cardinal�s dinner for Catholic University will be in Boston. Since it is our bicentennial year, it is a fitting time to host this event and to have all the cardinals visit our city. We have no strip or casinos in Boston, but I guess we will put our guests on the Duck boats � lol.

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I announced that next year’s cardinal�s dinner
for Catholic University will be in Boston

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On Sunday I attended a lovely celebration for the 50th anniversary of Resurrection parish in Hingham. A couple of the former pastors, Glastonbury Abbey Abbot Nicholas Morcone as well as some Jesuit fathers with links to the parish attended the event. The parishioners are enthusiastic of their parish, and a some of the founding families were there. It is a vibrant parish. After the Mass, there was a lovely reception in the parish hall.

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Altar server Craig Hildreth holds the book of prayers. Celebrating with me are Father Kenneth Quinn, pastor of Resurrection and Abbot Nicholas Morcone, leader of Glastonbury Abbey

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Scott Wahle, WBZ TV News anchor and parishioner, leads the choir.
He gave a beautiful solo

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With all the altar servers

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Lector and longtime parishioner Dottie Sullivan and her husband Frank

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On Monday I visited The Newman School in the Back Bay section of Boston. Cardinal Cushing was interested in helping GI�s returning from the war who did not have a high school diploma, so he founded the Newman School in Boston to help them with that. The school was meant to prepare them for college education, that was a salient feature of the Newman school in its early days. It has evolved into a private school with strong ties to the Catholic community and the tradition of Cardinal Newman, the great Catholic educator for whom the school was named. We had a Mass and we were happy to take a tour of the school. The facilities of the school are two very large townhouses.

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Harry Lynch, Newman School headmaster greeted me
at the beginning of the Mass

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The music was quite nice

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Students and faculty participated in the Mass

All the students were enthused about the education they are receiving there. They were proud to give me a tour and to talk with me about their classes and their experience of education there.

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The group that gave me the school tour

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Off we go… Five floors up!

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A student showed me her project for Latin class.
A Roman Chariot!

Members of the Board of Trustees at Newman gave me an LP with excerpts of several of Cardinal Cushing�s talks and prayers. That�s a treasure! I was completely blown away. The record is brand new, it has not even been opened. It is a long play 78 rpm.

I thought to play it but then I realized that I don�t have a record player anymore! I suppose I�m going to have it put on a CD so we can listen to it. We might get permission to re-publish it on CDs for the bicentennial.

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Posing with Cardinal Cushing’s LP.
From left to right: Dan Flatley, Kurt Carberry and Ed D’Alelio,
all friends and supporters of the Newman School.

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On Monday evening I went to Catholic Charities� Yawkey Center in Dorchester for a discussion on violence in the inner city and how we can better reach out to youth at risk and help strengthen communities.

Many people came to the event � pastors, people from Catholic Charities, people from the Boston Catholic Youth Connection (BCYC), different parish youth groups and the new police commissioner, Ed Davis.

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Boston Police commissioner, Ed Davis

Boston Catholic Youth Connection (BCYC) is a new program established by Catholic Charities Greater Boston, in collaboration with parishes in Dorchester and Roxbury. The program aims to breakdown the racial, cultural, and neighborhood barriers that contribute to a culture in which violence and gangs can thrive. It also facilitates communication within parishes to address urban-related problems, brings youth together once a month to pray for peace, and finds ways for parishes to reach the at-risk teens in these neighborhoods.

The Haitian, Cape Verdean and Hispanic communities as well as the city parishes were all represented. St. Mark Parish had a huge number of young people there with the youth group and their pastor.

It was a good meeting. It became obvious to me that we need to do more, offering 12-step programs for those struggling with addiction. We also need to deal with questions of employment, especially for people who have police records. Catholic Charities in Brockton has done a great deal along that line. Having been a prison chaplain, I realize how important that work is. Everybody says, �Why doesn�t he get a job,� but then they look at his record and nobody wants to hire him. We need to identify work venues that are appropriate and where people can transition into economic independence.

Another important issue that has to be address if violence has to stop is how to get people to turn in the many guns that are available in the area.

The inner city parishes have monthly Masses in the different parishes, bringing all the youth together. That has been a good experience. I have celebrated one of those Masses myself, and they have invited me back for another one. The youth center, too, has been very successful. Brother Tino, a capuchin, was the director for many years, and he did a good job. He is one of the reasons that the youth center grew so much. Paulo, the new director, is also doing a good job there. He is a layman and a social worker from Cape Verde.

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On Tuesday I visited the Little Sisters of the Poor in Somerville for the profession of the associates. It was the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker and the Little Sisters have a great devotion to St. Joseph. It was an opportunity to offer Mass there for the residents, the sisters and their collaborators.

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Members of the Association of Jeanne Jugan

Members of the Association of Jeanne Jugan, the lay association of the Little Sisters, made their promises at the Mass. Two new members joined the twelve current members renewed their promises to serve Christ with joy and love in the elderly, by following the example of humility and confidence left by Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the order.

The Association is a progression of the ongoing collaboration the Little Sisters have had with laity since their beginning. The association allows for a sharing of the spiritual and apostolic mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Members of the Association serve as the extended hands of the Little Sisters in their mission of hospitality to the low-income elderly. I am told that, worldwide, there were 1,932 members of the Association.

The Little sisters have been with us in Boston for 137 years, always quietly serving a mission of hospitality to the elderly poor.

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The Little Sisters and I in front of the Jeanne Jugan
Residence in Somerville.
They have a wonderful spirit caring for the poor

We also had a nice lunch everyone afterward. I want to thank the sisters for the wonderful work that they do. Many people are acquainted with them because they go to the parishes and the stores to beg for help for the elderly. We hope that they will continue to be blessed with vocations. I was happy to see some high school students who are volunteering there and it�s such a beautiful ministry, an important ministry.

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At lunch after Mass

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Visiting with a resident

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Later that day I went to the Catholic Appeal kickoff at Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth. Sacred Heart was one of the parishes highlighted in this year�s appeal video. The church building burned down in June 2005, and they have held Mass in the school�s auditorium. At the press conference the kids from the first grade were all there with their yellow hardhats on. It was a great sight.

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Walking into the library at Sacred Heart School

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Scot Landry, director of the The Catholic Foundation,
speaks at the press conference

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Catholic Foundation board member Jane Mancini Puliafico explains
the ways in which the Appeal supports programs important to her and her family

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The children looked adorable in their plastic hard hats

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… and young Christopher even gave me one

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I told the children the hat was “spiffy”

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Speaking with Greg Wayland of NECN

Then, we got a preview of the new church. It looks just beautiful. Hopefully by December it will be finished and so we will be able to inaugurate the Bicentennial year by inaugurating the new parish church at Sacred Heart in Weymouth. Father Dan Riley and the parishioners have done just a fantastic job.

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Walking over to the new church building with
clerk of the works George Berg and Father Riley

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The pictures on the sign shows how the church will look when it is complete

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Back at the rectory I greeted Joe Doyle, a parishioner from Sacred Heart
who was featured in the Appeal video

The Catholic Foundation has put together a new website highligting the launch of the 2007 Annual Appeal. There you can find an extended version of the video that will be shown at all weekend Masses as well as versions in Spanish and Portuguese.
The Pilot covered the Appeal launch in this week’s edition. Also, I published the following letter in The Pilot encouraging Catholics to participate in this year�s appeal:

Through the use of parables and the example of His life, Christ teaches us much about stewardship in the Gospels. Each one of us has been given gifts and talents by God, who loves us and calls us to develop those gifts and share them for the building up of His kingdom.

In the Acts of the Apostles and the New Testament letters, we see how the first Christians put Jesus� teachings into practice. They generously sacrificed on behalf of the widows, orphans and neediest members of the community. St. Paul was in some ways the Church�s first fund-raiser, taking up collections among the local churches of his time to support the persecuted believers in Jerusalem. He saw this as an opportunity to provide for the material needs of others and, importantly, to create a sense of unity within the Church.

Stewardship, unity and helping others, which are at the center of the Church�s mission, are at the heart of our annual Catholic Appeal.

Each year our Catholic family lives the call to stewardship by generously giving from the blessings we have received. This support allows the Church to continue the good works of serving those in need, proclaiming the Good News, and coming together to pray and celebrate the sacraments.

Like St. Paul in his day, we also know that the Catholic Appeal is more than a means of providing funding for our many good works. It is a way of fostering the unity of the Church. Like modern-day Good Samaritans, we work together to help our neighbors who are in need.

The Catholic Appeal unites all 295 parishes of our archdiocese, drawing us together in the service of the Gospel. I am grateful for and proud of the dedication and sacrifice so many parishioners demonstrate in supporting the appeal with an annual pledge.

Through the generosity of so many people in recent years we have been able to accomplish many good works. But much more remains to be done. Therefore, I ask every Catholic in our archdiocese to join me in contributing to this year�s Catholic Appeal. All gifts � of whatever amount � matter.

Thank you for all you have done, and all you will do, to be a sign of God�s love to others. Filled with the joy of this Easter season, let us go forward to carry out the work of the Lord.

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For the photo of the week I have chosen this photo outside Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth. The budding leaves and plants serve as a reminder of the new source of spiritual life which is rising up in on that site. I truly look forward to attending the dedication of the new church later this year.

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