It was quite an eventful week, to say the least. The Holy Father’s Apostolic visit to the United States ended last Sunday, after a Mass at Yankee stadium in New York City.
When planning a papal visit, so many things can go wrong — and when you are Irish, you expect all of them to go wrong! It was so beautiful that everything — even the weather — cooperated. The Holy Father’s visit was very uplifting and a grace-filled moment for the Catholics of our country.
The Holy Father had announced that his message was going to be “Christ our Hope,” and it certainly has given all of us a lot of hope in the Lord and in the future of our Church.
As I already mentioned in last week’s blog, a very special moment for me and for the Archdiocese of Boston took place on Thursday when the Holy Father met with five survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
The following day, on the day of the Holy Father’s anniversary, the other American cardinals and I had a wonderful opportunity to have dinner with him in the residence of the nuncio to the Vatican mission to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore. I want to share with you that at that event, the Holy Father told me how moved he was by that meeting with the victims the day before.
At that meeting with the victims, we handed the Holy Father a book with the first names of over one thousand victims. It was very well done, with all the names written in calligraphy and very artistically done. With the book, we tried to convey that those survivors attending where representing all victims, even those whose names were not written. The names in the book correspond with those who came to us in the archdiocese to report abuse in the last 50 years.
Holding the book of names at the Nunciature in Washington D.C.
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On Saturday morning, I came back to Boston for the Catholic Men’s Conference, which was held at Boston College’s Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill. I think it was a wonderful success. There were more than 2,200 men and more than 2,800 women at the Boston Catholic Women’s Conference the previous day.
Given the fact that it was school vacation week and there were 3,000 Boston Catholics traveling to New York City for the Papal Mass that weekend, we were very pleased with the numbers that did come. We are very grateful to the speakers who were so well received. Their messages were right on target, and everyone appreciated the conferences.
I am particularly grateful to Scot Landry who, at the time he was organizing these conferences, was also helping to organize the pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium for the Holy Father’s Mass. We are also very grateful to the parish captains and to Jennifer Schiller who worked so hard heading the Women’s Conference.
We are very hopeful that the conferences will only continue to grow, and they have been a great source of grace for the archdiocese. They have resulted in the formation of many parish men’s and women’s groups that are helping to give the spiritual formation and support that so many of our people are looking for.
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Being at the Men’s Conference, I was not able to be at the Saturday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, but I am pleased to say that Father Arthur Coyle, Father Richard Erikson, Sister Marianne Batho and Brother Jim Peterson were there representing Boston.
Father Erikson sent a blog entry to the official Papal Visit Blog that included the following photo taken after the Mass at St. Patrick’s on Saturday
From Left, Father Arthur Coyle, Brother Jim Peterson,
Father Richard Erikson and Sister Marian Batho
Also, virtually all of our seminarians from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston were able to make it to the youth and seminarian rally at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers. Both of these events were so beautiful.
We had an excellent representation at the papal events in New York as well as those held in Washington D.C. Father Arthur Kennedy was at the interfaith service in the nation’s capital. We were very happy he was part of that.
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That evening I went back to New York in preparation for the Papal Mass the following morning. At the airport I was happily surprised by two groups of Catholic school students who were on their way to the Dominican Republic on a service mission during their April vacation.
Students from Trinity Academy in Newton
Students from Boston College High School in Dorchester
A close up of my red sock
It was quite an experience. I took some photos with my cell phone to document the moment.
The Mass was very, very beautiful.
We had a fantastic representation from the archdiocese — 3,000 pilgrims. The Boston group all sat in the same section and made quite a racket when Boston was honored as a bicentennial archdiocese. I was very pleased to look up and see the sign for the Archdiocese of Boston.
So many of our priests were also able to get there, which is wonderful. With the Mass being on Sunday, I knew how difficult it would be for priests to get there. In the end we had more than 25 Boston priests concelebrating the Mass.
Some of the Boston priests attending the Mass
Two seminarians studying at St. John’s — from left,
Michael Pierz and Huy Nguyen — served at the Mass
I was also very happy to see Marguerite McNiece and her grandson receive Holy Communion from the Holy Father. Marguerite is German and was very enthused about receiving the Eucharist from “her German pope,” as she said.
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The Pro-life Legal Defense Fund, under the chairmanship of attorney Phil Moran, honored me at their annual banquet April 11 with the Thomas Moore Award. Attorney Fran Hogan made the introduction. Marianne Luthin, from our Pro-Life office, and her husband Henry, who is also an attorney, were there.
I was so happy that a number of law students from Harvard, Boston College and other law schools joined at the festivities. I encouraged them to hurry up and get through law school and run for president of the United States!
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On Wednesday evening, I was invited to the Sears Road Dinner Club hosted by David Fubini, director of the McKinsey & Company. David’s organization has given a great deal of advice on how to improve our internal organization and we are very grateful for all of the services that he has donated to the archdiocese. I was happy to be a part of the dinner he hosted for a number of community leaders, including Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
For the Holy Father’s birthday, Bob Rottenberg, CEO of Long’s Jewelers, was good enough to make a pair of cufflinks with Pope Benedict’s coat of arms. I presented those to him on his birthday with the prayers and best wishes of the people of Boston.
Until my next post.
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