Last Saturday, we went to Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Marshfield to celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and the installation of Father Mark Ballard as the new pastor.
This is Father Ballard’s first pastorate and there is great enthusiasm at his appointment. There was a huge crowd that came to accompany him as he officially begins his pastoral duties, including parishioners, family and well-wishers.
Father Ballard is coming from All Saints Parish in Haverhill, where he did a tremendous job. We wish all the best to the outgoing pastor, Father Thomas Reilly, who is retiring.
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Sunday, we offered a Mass at the Bethany Chapel in the Pastoral Center for all religious sisters, brothers and priests in the archdiocese followed by an open house and reception. The religious who work here in the Pastoral Center acted as the tour guides, showing people around and acting as hosts for the event.
Following the Mass, I blessed an image of the Sts. Martha and Mary attending to the Lord at Bethany, which was given to me by the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, who care for the chapel at the Pastoral Center.
Also during the gathering, Sister Marian Batho presented me with a wonderful history of religious women and men in the archdiocese over the last two centuries, “Journeying Together.” The book is the result of a great deal of work by Sister Mary Rita Grady, who compiled a marvelous collection of histories, chronologies and statistics.
I certainly agree with Sister Marian when she said the book is a wonderful love story between the religious and God’s people here in the Church in Boston. I am also pleased that it is a “love story” that continues to be written, as the foreword of the book says.
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In the afternoon, in the chapel of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, I baptized Michael Xavier Tracy, the son of The Pilot’s managing editor, Gregory Tracy, and his wife Donis, who also writes for the paper.
It was a great privilege to be celebrating a baptism on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
In my remarks, I said I was especially pleased because in the last several decades, there has been a renewal of the Church’s emphasis on this sacrament of Baptism. For example, the RCIA program has been reinstituted as one way to receive adults into the faith.
I also talked about the Holy Father’s meeting with the Neocatechumenal Way the day before to mark the 40th anniversary of its arrival in Rome and how this charism strives to renew the baptismal faith of adults through an itinerary of Catholic formation.
We are all called to fulfill Jesus’ last commandment to us: Make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This initiates believers into the life of the Trinity.
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Monday, we went to visit the Trappistine Sisters at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham. It was my first visit to them since the blessing of their new abbess, Mother Maureen McCabe, who replaced Mother Agnes Day.
They also have a new chaplain from St. Joseph’s Monastery in Spencer, Father Gabriel, who is replacing Father Aquinas.
We celebrated Mass in their chapel, which is stunning in its simplicity and its typical Cistercian austerity.
After Mass, we had lunch with the sisters and we had a dialogue with them in their chapter room. They have a community of about 50 sisters. I was happy to see that there were six with white veils, which means the women are novices, so there are new vocations coming along.
In the Benedictine and Cistercian tradition, they always support themselves by the work of their hands. One of the ways they support themselves is by making candies and chocolates. I was thrilled that they presented me some to bring home with me, as they always do.
(Someone asked me if that was the real reason I visit. It isn’t. But, it is one of the side benefits!)
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The American Bible Society prepared a deluxe polyglot version of the Bible that they made to mark the occasion of the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Word of God, which took place in Rome last October.
They presented one copy to the Holy Father and one to each of the synodal fathers, and they came to present me with a copy as well.
There are different columns with the Scriptures in Hebrew, Greek, English, Spanish and Latin.
Rev. Dr. Richard Jeske made the presentation along with Mario Paredes. Mario, whom I have known for many years, is now working with the society as a member of their board.
Receiving the Bible from Rev. Jeske
With the delegation from the society
They also alluded to the fact that it was Cardinal Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros who sponsored the creation of the first polyglot Bible in Spain, which was published in 1517.
A page of the original polyglot Bible
We had lunch with the representatives of the society. Afterwards, there was a presentation in Spanish and Portuguese of a lecture on the Lectio Divina for some of our people from our different ethnic ministries, along with Bishop Allué.
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Currently, I am in Mexico City, where I am attending the Sixth World Meeting of Families. It is a great opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate the gift of family life for the Church and for society at large.
The meeting usually takes place every three years and the last conference was in Valencia, Spain and the Holy Father presided there. There are 300 bishops and cardinals participating and I was asked to make one of the talks. We will conclude the conference with a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
At the conference, there are discussions on a great variety of topics concerning family life and marriage. On the opening day, the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, addressed the conference and made a beautiful discourse.
President Calderon is the first Mexican president in many, many decades to be a practicing Catholic. He is a man of deep conviction and commitment to the Gospel of Life and to marriage. He gave a very powerful witness talk.
Thursday, as I walked around the convention center, people kept coming up to me and thanking me for the beautiful talk that I gave on Wednesday. I thanked them profusely, but I didn’t give my talk on Wednesday — Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin who is the preacher of the papal household, did!
What do you think?
I hope to tell you more about the World Meeting of Families in next week’s blog.