Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

Archive for 2007/12/14


Christ Speaks in the City

Welcome to my blog. As we had our first winter snow storm this week, I continued with my daily activities as Archbishop of Boston.

My friends John and Claire Bertucci, who are members of the board of trustees of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, invited me to have a tour of the museum last week.

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That’s Anne Hawley, director of the museum,
pointing out a feature of the courtyard.
With us is Damien DeVasto, who works with us at the archdiocese,
and John and Claire Bertucci.

I enjoyed the tour, and it is wonderful to think that we have this grand resource here in Boston that does so much to promote knowledge and appreciation of the arts, particularly among students. Some of our Catholic schools are very tied into the programs of the museum.

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Admiring a Raphael artwork titled Count Tommasso Inghirami

I had never been to the museum before, and I was very impressed by its beauty and the number of paintings, particularly the altar pieces and vestments that obviously came from our Catholic tradition.

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A beautiful crucifix from XVI century Venetian artist Francesco Terilli

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Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saint from Giuliano da Rimini, XIV century,Italian

It was interesting to see how the interior courtyard had been made by bringing actual balconies from Venice.

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The museum web site has a very nice animation of the Courtyard. Watch it here

I noticed that one of the balconies in the courtyard even had a coat of arms with a Franciscan symbol on it, as I have on my own — the crossed arms of St. Francis and Christ.

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You can see the arms of St. Francis and Christ in my coat of arms

The Church has always been involved in promoting art, music and architecture as a way of manifesting for people a glimpse of God’s beauty. The beauty of art helps people to understand God’s beauty and His goodness. This can attract people to God.

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Sandro Botticelli’s Virgin and Child with an Angel, from the early 1470s

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I enjoyed the visit very much

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I attended the Catholic Charities Greater Boston annual Christmas Dinner that took place at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston Dec. 7. It had a very good turnout. In fact I think it was one of the best turnouts the dinner has ever had, which is a very good sign.

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A general view of the room

The work of Paulo De Barros and others at the Teen Center at St. Peter’s in Dorchester was highlighted. A young lady from the center spoke, and there was a dance group of Cape Verdean youth that entertained the people at the dinner.

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A cape Verdean dance group

The new Catholic Charities president, Tiziana Dearing, gave a very inspiring talk. It was her first dinner as president. And of course Vivian Soper, director of Catholic Charities Greater Boston, also spoke. She is doing a wonderful job in that important role at Catholic Charities.

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From left Vivian Soper, director of Catholic Charities Greater Boston;
Michael Gilleran, chair of the Catholic Charities Greater Boston Advisory Board,
and Tiziana Dearing, president of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Boston

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On Saturday, I installed Father Walter Carreiro as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Cambridge.

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A large contingent of priests and St. Anthony parishioners were there.

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Most of the parishioners at the parish are Portuguese, but there is a growing Brazilian presence there.

Father Carreiro’s mother and some of his relatives were also able to be present for the Mass.

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With Father Walter Carreiro

Afterwards, there was a huge Portuguese dinner in the parish hall for everyone.

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People had a wonderful time, and they were very enthused.

The outgoing pastor, Father Jose Ferreira, who had served the parish for so many years was present at the installation Mass. He received a big ovation from the people, and the good news is that he is able to continue to help out in the parish.

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Father Ferreira greeting his “former” parishioners

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On Sunday, I celebrated an Advent Mass at Holy Family Parish in Amesbury.

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They had a very good turnout, and afterwards there was a reception in the hall.

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On Wednesday, I met with the seminarians at St. John’s for an evening of prayer. I meet with them occasionally and we always have a holy hour, dinner and then a conversation.

This time, I gave them a talk about Our Lady of Guadalupe — it was her feast day — and the role of the priest in building unity in the community. I spoke about how the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who came in the form of an indigenous woman, helped to break down the barriers that had stood in the way of the evangelization of America.

Today, we also face many barriers in our very secularized culture, but we have to know how to break those down and to build unity. I talked about the first great challenges in the Church. The first Council of Jerusalem is called in the Acts of the Apostles to confront the kinds of tensions that came about because of the ethnic differences in the community. The variety of seminarians we have here in Boston, I think helps the men to learn how to embrace the catholic — universal — nature of our Church.

After my talk, there were many interesting questions. The seminarians wanted to know about the new ministry to youth that is being organized in the archdiocese through a new department for the new evangelization of youth. They were enthusiastic about that. Some of them asked about the school 2010 Initiative and the implications for Catholic education as we go forward. Other seminarians talked about their upcoming trip to Peru to visit our men in the Missionary Society of St. James who are currently serving there.

This time, they did not take any pictures of the evening, but later they sent me the following photo, taken a couple of days later, as some of them were digging out after the first winter storm of the season that left around one foot of snow at St. John’s.

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We have a group of new seminarians from South East Asia at St. John’s this year and, I am told, this was the first time they saw snow… and the first time they had to shovel it, lol.

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On Thursday I addressed a group of people attending the Christ Speaks in the City Lecture Series. The event is hosted by the Vocation Office of the Archdiocese at the Old State House located in the heart of Downtown Boston’s Financial Center.

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The Old State House is a beautiful venue. It was the seat of government during the British colonial period in Boston and is now a museum.

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The Vocations Office has been having a lecture series there for professionals and people who work in town as a way to try to be present to that population and as a way to increasing the Church’s contact with young professionals in the downtown Boston.

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I gave a conference on prayer an discipleship. In it, I tried to stress the fact that without prayer it is impossible to lead a life of faith and to really be faithful disciples. The people in the group we very receptive to the message and there were several questions afterwards

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I talked to them about Jesus’ example and teachings on prayer, particularly in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

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I tried to give an explanation of the “Our Father” which the Church has always considered the model for prayer the one that Jesus Himself taught us. I tried to stress the fact that in prayer we are trying to achieve union with God and that in prayer we come to embrace God’s will with great trust. I ended my conference by praying the so-called prayer of abandonment of Charles de Foucauld, the prayer that I have in my prayer card:

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures – I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

The talk was very well attended even as we were expecting a winter storm to hit Boston at the same time. In fact, by the end of the event it was already snowing heavily.

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It took us a long time to get home, which is less than 2 miles away from the Old State House. The snow caused great traffic jams in Boston as everybody started going home instead of going for lunch… so everyone tried to leave the city at the same time.

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For the photo of the week I am sharing with you this photo of my visit to the Gardner Museum. I am impressed by the beauty of the place and the amount of art hosted in there.

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God Bless,

Cardinal Seán.