As I was putting the finishing touches on this week’s posting, I was saddened by the news of the death of my good friend Cardinal Avery Dulles. Cardinal Dulles, a Jesuit, was the first American-born theologian and non-bishop to be elevated to the rank of cardinal. He died at the infirmary at Fordham University, where he taught for many years.
Cardinal Dulles was the son of President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, and the nephew of Eisenhower’s CIA director, Allen Welsh Dulles, and his conversion to Catholicism from such a prominent Presbyterian family was just one remarkable chapter in the story of his remarkable walk with the Lord.
My friendship with Cardinal Dulles goes back to the early 1970s, when he was teaching at Woodstock College, a Jesuit seminary. Later, we taught together at Catholic University.
Cardinal Dulles was one of the most brilliant and intelligent theologians in the history of the Church in the United States.
We were privileged to have him visit us last year when he gave a talk at St. John’s Seminary, which was one of his last public appearances. He suffered for many years from the aftermath of his battle with polio when he was a young adult. For the rest of life he walked with a cane.
In his final lecture at Fordham titled: “A Life in Theology,” which was read for him, he said:
“Suffering and diminishment are not the greatest of evils, but are normal ingredients in life, especially in old age. They are to be accepted as elements of a full human existence,” he said. “As I become increasingly paralyzed and unable to speak, I can identify with the many paralytics and mute persons in the Gospels, grateful for the loving and skillful care I receive and for the hope of everlasting life in Christ. If the Lord now calls me to a period of weakness, I know well that his power can be made perfect in infirmity. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
He will be greatly missed.
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Last Friday, I was invited to Merrimack College. The president, the provincial of the Augustinians and their board had me over for lunch.
Father James Wenzel, Father Ray Dlugos, Father Joseph Calderone, Father William Garland , Father Joseph Farrell, Father Donald Reilly, Brother Robert Thornton, and Father William Waters
It was a great honor when they announced at the luncheon the establishment of two full scholarships to Merrimack College in my name.
The scholarships will be awarded to graduates of the Blessed Stephen Bellesini Academy in Lawrence.
The Bellesini Academy is a Catholic middle school run by the Augustinians dedicated to providing education to boys of limited financial means living in Lawrence.
They also showed a nice film presentation about the Augustinian presence in the archdiocese that goes back to the time of Bishop Cheverus.
The Augustinians have a long history of association with the archdiocese, and they have made great contributions. The order founded St. Augustine’s and St. Monica’s parishes. Merrimack College was founded by Cardinal Cushing 60 years ago, after World War II. He wanted to provide college education for the young men coming back from World War II and so he asked the Holy Cross Fathers to start Stonehill College in the southern part of the diocese, and the Augustinians to start Merrimack College in the north. Since its foundation, the college has graduated nearly 22,000 students.
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At various times during the years, I meet with our seminarians. It was thought that instead of always meeting with the whole group of them, we would have smaller groups come here to the cathedral for a more personal gathering. Last Friday was the first in that series of meetings.
The seminarians came, we had Evening Prayer together and then a meal during which we had the opportunity to dialogue on many different issues — the Church, the seminary, etc.
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On Saturday, I went to Immaculate Conception in Lowell. It happened to be the Feast of St. Nicholas who is the patron saint of the pastor there — Father Nick Sannella. Of course we celebrated the Sunday Mass but I did comment on the fact that the Feast of St. Nicholas is one of the Advent celebrations.
The church was filled — it’s a very large church, holding close to 2,000 people. It’s one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the area, I would say perhaps in all of New England. Anywhere else it would be a cathedral.
Under the leadership of Father Sannella, they have done a lot of restoration work on the buildings. They also have a school that they are working very hard to support.
Father Sannella gave me a reproduction of one of the stained glass windows in the church. It is a unique image: it depicts the Madonna holding the child Jesus who is, in turn, holding a chalice and a host — a very Eucharistic theme.
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On Sunday I went to St. Andrew’s in Billerica to celebrate their 140th anniversary.
Much like Sacred Hearts in Bradford, which I saw the next day, it was just filled with young families and young children. It’s very encouraging to see that.
The pastor, Father Michael Parise, is doing such wonderful work to build up the local community and provide many opportunities for the youth and adults of the parish to be actively involved in the life of the Church.
They had a wonderful choir, and they were particularly anxious for me to see the restorations they have done to the church, which came out beautifully.
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That evening, I went to Immaculate Conception in Everett for confirmations for the Haitian community there.
The pastor, Father Gerry Osterman, is very engaged in helping the Haitian community. In fact, they are holding the ARISE program in Creole for their parishioners. In 1983, he co-founded the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation. At the time, Father Gerry was the pastor at St. Boniface in Quincy. Along with some parishioners, he visited Haiti in 1983 to give a donation to a Mother Teresa’s home in the capital city, and that evolved in the creation of the Foundation that later built a hospital at Fond des Blancs, a very rural and poor area in Haiti. They do a tremendous work and Father told me that he was down there just recently. (http://www.haitihealth.org/)
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Monday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I celebrated a Mass followed by a reception for the Yawkey Foundation to formally thank them for the $15 million contribution they are making to the Campaign for Catholic Schools for the Catholic Charities Youth Center at St. Peter’s and Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester-Mattapan.
The Mass featured performances by two groups of students from Pope John Paul II Academy.
Before the start of the Mass, one group of students performed an interpretative dance of the Nativity. It was very nicely done.
During the Mass, another group of students served as the choir. They also played some songs on the tin whistle and the violin.
I know everyone was so happy have the students present and hear them perform.
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That evening, I went to Sacred Hearts in Bradford. They recently celebrated their 100th anniversary, and unfortunately, I was unable to go for that particular day. The church has been beautifully restored. It was filled with young people and young families.
Once again, it was encouraging to see “standing room only” on a Monday night in a church. Father Robert Conole and Father Hal Obayashi are doing great work with the large number of families at the parish.
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On Tuesday, Jason Evert addressed the high school students at Cathedral High School. I introduced him and gave them a blessing.
He communicates a Christian vision of sexuality and helps people to have an understanding of the importance of the virtue of chastity.
We are very lucky to have him coming to so many groups in the diocese. I know Maryann Luthin from our Pro-Life office has been helping to facilitate his visit.
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After a number of scheduling conflicts, I was very happy to visit with the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary and celebrate an Advent Mass with them.
I first met Marist sisters when I was the bishop of the Virgin Islands and they were a great help to the people there.
Here in Boston, they have many ministries and programs, but their chief ministry is prayer. I was so grateful to hear when they assured me of their continued prayers for the archdiocese and its archbishop.
After the Mass, we shared a meal and stories of life in the missions. When I mentioned my trip this summer to Papua, New Guinea, where classmates of mine and other friars had a mission, a number of the sisters told me that they had also served God’s people there.
Here I am with the all the sisters who had worked in the Papua, New Guinea missions. I am holding the picture of the Red Madonna, a mother with her child from the highlands there that I have chosen for my Christmas card this year.
When I spoke with Sister Catherine, who worked in those missions for 50 years, it turns out that we knew many of the same friars!
Before leaving, Sister Judith presented me with a remarkable lead crystal cross that casts a rainbow when light shines on it. It will be perfect for a window in my office.
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That evening I went to the wake of Tina DiDomenico, the 97-year-old mother of Sal DiDomenico. She was buried yesterday from St. Francis Church in Cambridge.
Sal and his wife Marie are great supporters of the archdiocese. They have a wonderful family. They are also very involved in the Sts. Cosmas and Damian festival that is held every year in the East Cambridge.
The whole extended family was at the wake. Tina lived a long and beautiful life, may she rest in peace.
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On Wednesday evening, I attended the Sears Road Dinner Club, which is organized David Fubini, director of the McKinsey & Company which last year provided the Archdiocese a pro-bono review to improve the efficiency and productivity of our organization. We are so grateful to Mr. Fubini and all those involved in that effort which is bearing such wonderful fruit for our Archdiocese.
The dinners are an opportunity to bring leaders of the community together to talk about local, national and world issues together. It was an enjoyable evening and I was grateful for their invitation.
Until next week, blessings!
– Cardinal Seán