Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

Archive for 2008/01


Epiphany week

I’d like to begin my weekly post with an upcoming event which is of particular importance to me.

On Jan. 22, I will be attending the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. We expect to have very good attendance from Massachusetts, particularly with young people. We have been encouraging the youth to participate in the march as a way of experiencing another reality of the life of the Church.

However, we also want to encourage others who are able to travel to the nation’s capital to be a part of the celebrations at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the march itself. Those who cannot attend can participate by praying for the safety of everyone there and for the success of the march. They can also view the Masses and the other programs part of the March for Life on Catholic television stations.

The campaign against abortion in our country has been a long one, but we have seen great strides made. In part, that is because we have not let the issue die. Many are committed to continue to witnessing to the gospel of life, and we are very grateful for those who can go to the march and be personally present.

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Last Saturday I went to visit the Trappistine sisters at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham. The Trappistine community there has over 50 sisters and many young women in formation. Their chaplain is Father Aquinas, from St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer.

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Two of the communities novices, Sister Christine and Sister Pauleen

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Sister Katie praying the rosary on a walk

The Trappistine life is one of prayer and work. There is such a joy and a peace in the place that it is always a wonderful spiritual experience to visit them.

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Three of the current four postulants, Left to right: Eve Marie, Sofia, and Francesca. They are all in their 20’s!

The sisters support themselves by manufacturing candy. I always say that they are so successful recruiting vocations because they make chocolate there; I’m sure that is one factor!… lol.

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I believe they are preparing what they call “Butter Nut Munch” here

They also have a flock of sheep, and one year they gave me a blanket made from the wool of one sheep. I was very impressed.

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Sister Rafaela working on the fencing of the sheep pasture

During my visit, I celebrated Mass with their community, along with some lay guests. Afterward, we had lunch together and dialogued about the Church today, religious life and so forth.

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Also this week I had Mass for the cloistered Carmelite sisters in Danvers. That community also has sisters in formation, and they have a wonderful community life. They live the traditional cloistered life of the Carmelites — the spirituality of St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Edith Stein.

During the Mass, my cell phone rang. Afterwards, one of the sisters asked me if that ring was my telephone. I said, “Sister, it was your imagination.” But then I had to get it out because I wanted to take a picture of the sisters for the blog, and the only way to do that was to use the camera on my phone.

Usually I beg for photos when I go to a place, but the sisters, of course, did not have digital cameras, so I had to improvise with my spiffy phone that has a camera. It was one of the first pictures that I have ever taken on it.

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What do you think of my cell phone photos?

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We are very blessed to have five communities of contemplative sisters in the archdiocese — two convents of Poor Clares, two convents of Carmelites and the Trappistines, which is the largest community.

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On the Feast of The Epiphany I celebrated Mass at the Cathedral for the Hispanic Community. The Feast of the Three Kings is such an important feast in the Hispanic world, particularly for the Puerto Ricans. In their country, the Fiesta de Reyes is very, very important, and they have many processions and parades and, of course, they exchange gifts. In fact, it is a national holiday.

There, they always celebrate it on the 12th day of Christmas — Jan. 6 — whereas in the United States we transfer the Epiphany to the Sunday. This year, of course, Jan. 6 happened to fall on a Sunday.

Father Carlos Lopez, who is assigned at the cathedral and is working with the Hispanics, concelebrated the Mass. He has been such a wonderful addition to the life of the Hispanic community at the Cathedral. Most of our parishioners at the Cathedral are Puerto Rican, yet this is the first time we have had a Puerto Rican priest working wit us there, so it has been a great blessing for us.

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I was also with the Ge’ez-rite Catholic community on Sunday night because they celebrate Christmas on what for us is the Epiphany. The Ge’ez-rite community, which has its origins in Ethiopia and Eritrea, is based out of the cathedral so I try to join them for their important feast days.

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The Christmas Mass went on for many hours, ending at 11:30 p.m. I stayed with them while they sang Christmas carols (which involves a great deal of drum playing). After the Mass, they had their traditional Ethiopian Christmas meal at midnight, and I blessed the food for them.

At the celebration, the women were all in their traditional attire. There was a Capuchin sister visiting from Ethiopia, so we have a picture of her with her mother and her sister.

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One of our seminarians who was present at the Cathedral is also from Ethiopia, Tamiru Atraga. He is being ordained a deacon next month.

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As a follow up to our two convocations of priests held in the fall, we’ve begun a series of regional meetings in which the priests can come together in their own areas of the diocese for prayer, a light lunch, some presentations and dialogue. This week, we were in the South and Merrimack regions. The meetings were moderated by our Vicar General, Father Rich Erikson.

Central to the conversation was the work of the six-priest team which is the Clergy Services Group. To have six priests — four full time and two part time — looking out for the priests and deacons of the archdiocese is a blessing and a sign of the diocese’s esteem and care for her clergy.

Since I’m sure many of you are unfamiliar with the Clergy Services Group, allow me to share a little bit about who the members are and the role they play assisting their brother priests:
Father Art Coyle is the Cabinet Secretary for Pastoral and Ministerial Services and acts as convener and coordinator of the group.

Father Brian Clary is the Director of the Priest Recovery Program. He assists clergy and their communities with issues related to addictions.

Father Ed Condon is the Vicar for Pastoral Care of Priests, making personal visits a major part of his work.

Father Bob Deehan is the Director of Clergy Personnel, with particular responsibility for coordinating and recommending assignments of priests and deacons.

Father Jim Flavin has just begun full time work as Director of Pastoral Care of Priests and Moderator of the Clergy Fund, having just completed his term as pastor at St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton. He gives special attention to the emotional and physical health of our priests and has oversight of the funds that provide for priests’ health benefits and retirement needs.

Father Bill Kelly is the Director of the Office for Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation. He is responsible for fielding questions, planning retreats, lectures and workshops, and also reaching out to priests and deacons on a daily basis.

We are blessed, and unique among dioceses, to have so many priests serving their brothers and we look forward to the rest of the regional meetings in February.

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On Wednesday I attended the inauguration of Dr. Carmen Mariano as president of Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree.

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Dr. Mariano

Many parents participated in the event and many alumni came back to the school for the occasion. (In fact, Dr. Mariano himself is a 1964 alumnus of the school.)

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The Archbishop Williams High serves over 30 communities, and more than 9,000 students have graduated since its creation in 1949 by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. It is currently a Catholic private school.

They have a lovely auditorium where we celebrated Mass.

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Distributing communion

I was glad to see that they’re doing very well there: The chapel has just been refurbished, enrollment is up and they have a very active campus ministry at the school. Father Keymont is the chaplain there and he is doing a wonderful job.

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On Wednesday evening, I attended a St. Andrew’s Dinner, sponsored by the Vocations Office.

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There were about 60 young men who came from the parishes. We had vespers, dinner and then after dinner three seminarians addressed them. The young men visiting are high school students, and the seminarians are all in college. They talked about their own spiritual journey, discernment and their experience of seminary. Each of the seminarian speakers studies at a different college: one is at Providence College, one is in St. Charles in Philadelphia and another is at the Franciscan College in Stubenville.

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We had a lovely celebration on Jan. 4 to mark the 25th wedding anniversary of Antonio and Reyes Enrique. Antonio is the editor of our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot.

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Many friends and relatives of the Enriques attended the Mass, held in the chapel at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Some of their children proclaimed the readings and provided the music. Antonio and Reyes renewed their marriage vows and I blessed silver rings to commemorate their silver anniversary.

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During the Mass, I baptized Elena Carmen, the Enriques’ 11th child, a beautiful little baby girl who was so well behaved during the Mass that I was amazed.

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Afterwards, there was a little repast with some tortilla Española and a lovely wedding cake. It was a wonderful and joyful celebration, and everyone was very happy for the Enrique family.

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The Enriques after the Mass

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For the photo of the week, I have chosen this photo with Trappistine Sister Anne Kohl. Her 100th birthday is Jan. 21. Happy birthday Sister!

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Until my next posting, blessings,
Cardinal Seán