Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

Archive for 2007/08


A retreat with my brother bishops of New England

We are saddened by the terrible suffering in Peru as a result of the earthquake last week. However, we are very happy to confirm last week’s report that our priests serving in Peru through the Missionary Society of St. James are all safe. We are also very grateful for the parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston that are participating in the special collection this weekend for earthquake relief. The archdiocese will collect the money and send it to Catholic Relief Services, which is already offering relief in Peru.

Boston Catholics are known for their generosity when requested to respond to natural disasters. Most recently, the archdiocese collected $1.8 million to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

When these tragedies occur in countries where there is already so much poverty, like Peru, an earthquake is a great disaster for a family. They can lose everything and will not have insurance or any other way of restoring what they have lost. Earthquakes often mean those in the affected region have no livelihood. The places where the people worked are gone. So it really is a disaster, not just for those who perish and physically suffer but for the people who live on. Survivors have to live with the consequences, which are very far reaching and have long-term effects for individuals and for families.

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This week I have been attending a retreat for the bishops in our Ecclesiastical Province, consisting of the Archdioceses of Hartford and Boston and our suffragan sees, that include all six New England states. The annual retreat, held in August, is also attended by the Eastern rite bishops. It is always a wonderful experience.

This year 20 bishops were able to join us.

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The retreat took place at St. Edmund’s Retreat Center on Enders Island in Mystic, Conn. in the diocese of Norwich.

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The center takes up an entire — but small — island that is joined to a larger island, Mason Island, by a causeway. The larger island is joined to the mainland by another causeway. The Edmundites Fathers run the retreat center, located an hour and a half drive from Boston.

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The scenery is magnificent

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The director there, Father Thomas Hoar, SSE, is doing a wonderful job. In the last couple of years, they have built a new chapel and done a lot to refurbish the property.

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A beautiful stained glass depicting Jesus in the boat

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The Edmundite Fathers have done a wonderful job restoring the property.
It looks beautiful

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A statue of St. Edmund

They do extraordinary work with promoting the Catholic artists, and they do a lot of work with 12-step programs as well. They have retreats and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for people who are suffering from addictions to alcohol, drugs or gambling. Many priests and religious go there for spiritual direction and days of recollection. There are many volunteers who work with Father Tom in maintaining the retreat house. It really is a wonderful spiritual center for the region, and it is a great blessing.

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At this year’s regional bishops’ retreat, Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, N.J. was our retreat master.

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Bishop Serratelli

Bishop Arthur is a scripture scholar, and he based his conferences on the first and second book of Samuel. As I told my secretary, Father Brian Bachand, on my way back to Boston, his retreat could have been called, “Everything you wanted to know about Samuel but were afraid to ask…” Lol.

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Not only was it a scholarly presentation that broke open the text for us, but Bishop Arthur also made many very practical suggestions that came out of that experience of God’s people and the prophet Samuel and king David. All of the bishops were very grateful for the retreat because we all know how hard it is for a bishop to take the time to give a retreat and to be away from his diocese to do that. It was a great service to the bishops, and we were very, very pleased by his conferences that were so enlightening.

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Today, the State Officers of the Catholic Daughters of America met with me to keep me informed of their future plans and activities. During the meeting they also presented me with a $10,000 check for the pro-life ministries. I am very grateful for their generous contribution. That donation will go a long way to supporting all of the pro-life work here in the archdiocese.

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The State Officers of the Catholic Daughters of the America, accompanied
by Father Kevin O’Leary, Pastor of St. Peter’s in Cambridge
and chaplain of the Massachusetts chapter.

The Catholic Daughters of the Americas is a charitable organization that participates in the religious, charitable and educational apostolates of the Church. They are the largest national organization of Catholic women in the world, dedicated to strengthening their spiritual life. The organization was founded in 1903 by the Knights of Columbus in Utica, New York. Since their creation they have expanded and are currently present in 42 states, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

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Also today, I was interviewed by the Hispanic television station Univision 27 about the special collection to help Peru that will take place in all parishes of the archdiocese this weekend.

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Univision anchor Maria González and her crew get ready

I shared with them our concern for the victims of the quake and my conviction that not only Peruvians living in Boston but all Catholics will make sacrifices to contribute to the collection for their brothers and sisters in Peru.

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During the interview

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For the photo of the week, I want to share this light moment with the crew from Univision. They presented me with a miniature soccer ball with the local station Univision 27 logo. I was very grateful that they wanted to help us communicate our concern for Peru to their Hispanic viewers around New England and around the nation.

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