I begin this week with wonderful news.
On Thursday, we announced that the Catholic Appeal raised $15.1 million for the 2008 campaign. Contributions to the Catholic Appeal serve as the primary source of financial support for the Archdiocese’s Central Operating Fund and its many central ministries.
Services provided by the Archdiocese from the Central Operating Fund include training and faith formation for both clergy and laity, curriculum development for the religious education of children and young adults, various training, operational and financial services to parishes, schools and agencies, and ministry to over 30 culturally and ethnically unique Catholic populations throughout the Archdiocese.
The success of this year’s Appeal demonstrates the generosity, faith and commitment of the people of this Archdiocese to sustain our ministries during these challenging economic times. I am inspired by our Catholic community’s long-standing history of selfless sharing, coming together to care for each other and those around them.
To all who have given of themselves so generously — thank you. Your support is essential to all we do as a faith community throughout the 144 cities and towns of our Archdiocese.
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Last Saturday, we had a very joyful celebration at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for the diocese’s ordination of five transitional deacons: Deacons Frank Camp and David Gunter from Blessed John XXIII Seminary; Deacons Sean Maher and Huy Nguyên from St. John’s Seminary, and Deacon Israel Rodriguez from Redemptoris Mater Missionary House of Formation. Their classmate, Deacon Shawn Carey, who studied at St. Patrick’s program for deaf seminarians in Menlo Park, Calif., was there for the celebration and will be ordained to the priesthood with them in the spring.
Deacon Frank Camp
Deacon David Gunter
Deacon Huy Nguyên
Deacon Sean Maher
Deacon Israel Rodriguez
It was very nice to see the cathedral filled with their friends and families.
It was our first ordination of a candidate from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary and Father Tony Medeiros was very pleased to join the rectors of St. John’s and Blessed John, Father Kennedy and Father Uglietto, in the celebration.
Fathers Kennedy, Uglietto and Medeiros
As we prepare for our vocation retreats this weekend and celebrate the ordination of deacons, I ask all the Catholics of the archdiocese to continue praying and working for vocations. I invite them to consider if God is calling them to this special ministry in the Church.
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This week, I was very happy to be invited to Magdalene College in Warner, New Hampshire, to celebrate their 35th anniversary and the launch of their efforts to gain accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The small, Catholic, liberal arts college is dedicated to giving young people an excellent Catholic formation and academic preparation for their professional lives.
With Jeff Karls, Magdalen College’s President
Fathers Paul and John Sullivan, both priests in the archdiocese of Boston and graduates of Magdalene College, accompanied me to the Mass, along with Bishop John McCormack who is the local ordinary in Manchester.
Fathers Paul and John Sullivan
We were very impressed by the beauty of the liturgy, the devotion of the students and the magnificent choral arrangements that they had for the Mass and the banquet afterwards. Virtually every student at the College participates in the music program and it was very, very inspiring.
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On Sunday, two of our priests celebrated the 50th anniversary of their ordination.
I spoke at the beginning of Father Larry Borges’ Mass at St. Albert the Great in Weymouth, and at the end of Msgr. Francis Strahan’s Mass at St. Bridget’s in Framingham.
Father Borges had been a good friend of mine since the early 70’s when we were both involved in Hispanic ministry and participated in various commissions together. We have always maintained contact, so he was one of the Boston priests involved in Hispanic ministry, along with Father Wendell Verrill, who I knew best.
I was very grateful for the wonderful job Father Borges did at St. Stephen’s in Framingham and for his generosity in becoming the pastor at St. Albert the Great, where there had been great tensions over the reconfiguration. I know his pastoral wisdom and unfailing kindness to all brought great healing to that community.
Now that he is retiring, he will continue his pastoral ministry as parochial vicar at St. Gregory’s in Dorchester. I am very grateful for his willingness to continue his ministry and grateful that God has blessed him with the good health to be able to continue serving God’s people in the way that he has.
I also had the opportunity to speak at Msgr. Strahan’s Mass at St. Bridget’s in Framingham and thank him in the name of the archdiocese.
He is a renaissance man who has so many different talents and such great energy.
At the Mass, he received three citations — two from the state legislature and one from the town. I told them it is a good thing that he wasn’t running for office because he would certainly be elected!
At the end of his Mass, he gave a very moving talk about his ministry. He spoke about the influence his parents and his Catholic family had on his formation, his many years at the seminary, his involvement with music ministry and his tenure at St. Bridget’s, which has been so life-giving for him.
The response of his parishioners to him is so enthusiastic because he has done such an outstanding job at St. Bridget’s.
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I spent much of the remainder of my week at a conference in Dallas organized by the National Catholic Bioethics Center and funded by the Knights of Columbus. Every two years, the center invites the bishops of Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America to attend various seminars and workshops. This year, there were about 150 bishops in total.
The conference is one of the few opportunities that we can all come together and interact with the bishops of our neighboring countries. This year, I was very happy to be with one of my classmates, Bishop Pablo Schmitz, who is the Apostolic Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Bluefields, Nicaragua. He brought me a lovely gift — a statue of the Good Shepherd.
He and his auxiliary Bishop David Zywiec Sidor, who was also with him, are part of a long tradition of Catholics and missionaries working in one of the poorest and most war-torn dioceses in the Northern Hemisphere. He has been there for many decades and is doing a great job.
Also, at the conference were the bishops from the Caribbean who were part of the part of the Antilles bishops’ conference with me. Among them were Archbishop Donald Reece, Archbishop Larry Burke, Bishop Charles Dufour, Archbishop Kelvin Felix and many other bishops from that part of the world who were my colleagues when I was bishop in the West Indies. It was like a great reunion to be with these brother bishops again.
The workshop had as its topic “Christ or Caesar? When compliance violates conscience.” One of the great challenges that we face in the United States is the erosion of religious freedom. At a time when more and more forces are trying to force the Church to become involved in abortion, contraception, embryonic stem-cell research, gay marriage, and other issues that infringe upon religious freedom in many different ways, I felt that it was a very timely topic and one that Catholics are going to have to struggle with in the future if we are to maintain our integrity as a religion and be able to practice our faith and have a voice in the public square.
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I was saddened by the news of a fire at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. Like our own Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, it was built by Patrick Keeley.
We are glad that no one was injured but I am very saddened to see the damage to the historical cathedral and hope that they will be able to fully restore it.
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I welcome the news that The Holy Father has gone live on YouTube with his videos and news from the Vatican. I think it is important for us to be present in these different means of communication that reach many people, particularly our young Catholics.
I applaud our Holy Father’s efforts to reach out to new generations of Catholics and to use every means available of communicating with them.
Until next week,