At last Thursday’s noon Mass in the Pastoral Center, we hosted the Driscoll Family – Roland and Alice Driscoll, and several of their family members – as we offered a memorial Mass for two of their sons.
Roland and Alice are daily communicants at the Pastoral Center and have always been very supportive of works of the archdiocese. I was very pleased to be with them to mark the first anniversary of the passing of their son Theodore and to remember their son Gregory who is also no longer with us.
Roland and Alice with two of their grandchildren, Courtney and Hannah
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On Friday, I attended the Eucharistic Congress sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious in Washington, D.C. The gathering was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception under the theme “Sacrifice of Enduring Love.”
The congress focused on the meaning of the Eucharist, the priesthood, religious life, and marriage. I encourage you to visit its website for more information. Our archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, carried a very nice story on the congress which you can read here.
Seeing the national shrine filled for the Eucharistic Congress, particularly with young religious sisters, was such a sign of hope. It helps us to realize that, although in recent years there have been many challenges, religious life is still with us and will be with us in the future. It was very uplifting to be a part of the Eucharistic Congress.
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus gave the opening address on Friday night on Christian vocations and a civilization of love, which was very well received.
I concelebrated the Mass on Friday night with Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Québec.
On Saturday, I gave one of the keynotes and Cardinal Ouellet spoke as well.
Beyond just all the young religious women, it was also very encouraging to see the many students and others who came to be a part of the Eucharistic Congress.
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While I was in Washington, I also went to visit a couple of friends who have been ill. One of them is Dr. Jorge Arnoldson, who is in the Agrupación Católica Universitaria, which I mentioned in last week’s post.
With friends Rosita & Jorge Arnoldson and Pepe Trujillo
Dr. Arnoldson was with me when I made my Cursillo back in the 1960’s and has been suffering with a bout of cancer. I had a nice visit with Jorge and his wife, Rosita.
I also visited Ramon Dominguez (“Mongo,” as we call him) and his wife Carmencita. He just had open-heart surgery. He’s doing very well. He is also a member of the Agrupación Católica who worked very closely with me for years in providing services to refugees and immigrants at the Centro Católico.
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By Saturday night, I had arrived back in Boston. I had dinner with the Memores Domini, a group of consecrated laymen of Communion and Liberation living at Sacred Heart in the North End. They are Italians and they prepared a wonderful Italian meal for us.
We were joined by a member of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo who has recently come to the archdiocese, Father Luca Brancolini. Father Luca is teaching at the Newman School in Boston’s Back Bay and we are very pleased to welcome him.
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On Sunday morning, I had a Mass at Bishop Fenwick High School, together with Bishop Francis Irwin, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school. The school’s principal, Sister Catherine Fleming, and chaplain, Father Richard Burton, organized this. We had a beautiful day.
They have an extraordinary choir that was just superb. They’ve sung at Carnegie Hall. In all it was a beautiful celebration of the Eucharist.
With representatives from concert choir, liturgical choir, band, student activities council, national honor society, varsity football team, and altar servers
With the current and former principals: Ralph LeDuc, David Marion, the current principal Sister Catherine Fleming, and Sister Marie Rose Julie Tierney
With present and former Sisters of Notre Dame faculty and administration members and some of their guests
Several local police officers have ties to the school. Here I am with Sgt. Rich Callahan, Officer James Thibodeau, Detective David B. Murphy, Officer Jim Leclerc and Officer Mark Saia
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From there, I went to the celebration for the religious sisters celebrating their jubilees at St. Theresa’s in West Roxbury. Having just participated in the Eucharistic Congress, it so fitting to be able to come back to Boston to celebrate with these women who have given so much to the Church.
Sister Marian Batho, our delegate for religious, gave a wonderful talk, which I would like to share with you:
Today we celebrate 10, 895 years of years of service to the Church
We celebrate 184 women who said yes to God’s call 25, 50, 60, 65, 70, 75 and 80 years ago.
75 year jubilarians
We celebrate fidelity and steadfast love.
We celebrate the charisms of 35 religious congregations – all of them an integral part of the rich 200 year history of the Archdiocese of Boston These charisms are precious jewels in the life of the Church.
Our jubilarians are amazing women. At the time of their entrance to religious life, pastoral needs were great, resources were limited. They responded generously to God’s call to serve.
65 year jubilarians
60 year jubilarians
The document “Starting Afresh from Christ” written in 2002 speaks of the importance of religious life as a reflection of Jesus’ way of acting and his love for every person without distinction.
You, our Sister jubilarians, have brought a special relational quality to all whom you have met along the way. The love of Christ has impelled you to respond to those most in need, to take up works that others may find too difficult, that our society does not value, that are judged impossible to sustain.
50 year jubilarians
25 year jubilarians
You have done this through your prayer, your presence and your total giving of self as teachers, social workers, health care providers, administrators, canon lawyers, advocates for the poor, chaplains, evangelizers and in countless other ways. The variety of your ministries is endless. Your single-minded devotion to God is unwavering.
The charisms of your communities have inspired you to be innovators – always responding to the signs of the times in holy and creative ways.
You have given without counting the cost. You have worked quietly without seeking recognition.
You have brought hope to so many through your witness to the enduring values of charity, compassion, and integrity.
10, 895 years of service! Imagine for a moment how many people have been part of those years. What an impact you have made for good for the Church and for our culture!
Today to you, our jubilarians we say thank you. Thank you for honoring us with your presence.
We remember especially our contemplative sister jubilarians who are united with us. Their prayers for the intentions of the Archdiocese and the Universal Church are a great support.
We say thank you and pray for those who were not able to attend today because of illness. The Archdiocese of Boston stands on the shoulders of these Sisters who labored for so many years. May we never forget them! We are who we are and we have what we have because of their selfless dedication to the Mission of the Church.
We remember those who celebrate their anniversaries of entrance or profession with God in eternal life. May their prayers intercede for us in the days ahead!
In writing Novo Millennio Adveniente (On the Coming of the Third Millennium) in 2001, Pope John Paul II called the Church of the Third Millennium to:
Contemplate the Face of Christ
Stake Everything on Charity
Move Out Into the Deep
To be on fire with the love of God
In your religious lives and in the histories of your communities we have a great legacy, a blueprint for the days ahead for making Pope John Paul’s Vision for the Church become a reality.
May God bless you in the days ahead! Ad Multos Annos!
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Cardinal Seán Brady, who is Archbishop of Armagh and the Primate of Ireland, visited the Archdiocese and stayed at the Cathedral.
Unfortunately, I was not able to be with him because I was attending meetings at the bishop’s conference in Washington but we were very happy to host him.
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Wednesday night was the Priest Appreciation Dinner at the Seaport with 1,630 people who gathered for a very moving tribute to our priests. The dinner committee also very kindly provided for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of my ordination as a bishop.
We were very grateful for the kind words of Ambassador Ray Flynn, Jill Ker Conway, Joe D’Arrigo and Senate President William Bulger.
Father Reed and the people of CatholicTV prepared this wonderful video on the priesthood, interviewing priests and people of the archdiocese.
Msgr. Frank Strahan regaled us with some beautiful songs, including “Simon, Son of Jonah” and “The Impossible Dream.”
As we concluded all the priests stood to join him in singing the Salve.
Father John MacInnis gave an extraordinary reflection on the priesthood, particularly the priesthood in the Archdiocese. I’d like to share it with you:
I am very honored to speak to you this evening about something I love very much and we all value so highly – the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Every one of us here is called to serve the mission of Christ, but not all in the same way. Tonight we celebrate the vocation of priesthood, but in doing so we want to honor every vocation. If there is a grace to be found in the dwindling number of priests, it may be this: the realization in all of us that we need one another. The Body of Christ needs each one of us to be the living presence of the Lord in the world. As a pastor of a large and diverse parish, I cannot imagine ministering alone, without the manifold gifts of our parishioners.
As priests, how do we serve the Church’s mission? One way to define our role is by describing what we do. Our priestly functions identify us to others and help to shape our identity. We celebrate the Eucharist and the sacraments. We preach and teach the word of God. We guide our congregations in service to others. This is what we do and strive to do well – or rather what God does with us and through us. Through these actions Christ works to help and heal both his people and their ministers. But let me invite you – my fellow priests and our dedicated lay people – to consider also what we call the relational side of the priesthood.
Greeting John and Margarete McNeice
For who are we as priests? We are men who appear at the thresholds of people’s lives at tender and transformative moments of joy and grief, doubt and confidence, guilt and forgiveness. Christ speaks and acts through us, making known the Father’s love and mercy. People turn to us for gospel wisdom and a strong but gentle hand to steady them. Traditionally, they call us fathers while in fact we are also their brothers in the family of faith.
We are fathers and brothers in the family of faith. I grew up in a family that cherished faith in God. From the blessings we enjoyed and the hardships we shared, I came to realize that the words “father” and “brother” meant more than sharing the same blood or the same name. They signify belonging to, and taking responsibility for, those who shared the same home and the same table.
What does it mean for us as priests to be called father? There may be a certain ambivalence to that word today. On the one hand, I think most priests would agree that there is something humbling and gratifying in being called father. From the day of ordination onward, we became known by this title both by life-long friends and total strangers. For me, forty years later, it still touches a profound human reality in my core. I think it echoes deep down inside all of us as men, longing, yearning for fatherhood.
Yet it can descend into a kind of paternalism. The Church today is not a rerun of “Father knows best.” Furthermore, the dark cloud of suspicion and distrust that came over the priesthood in the past decade lingers and casts its shadow over us. We feel uncomfortable at times, worried about getting close to our people, especially children. From the mistakes that were made and the hurt that was caused, we have had to learn aright how to be “strong, and loving and wise” in the ways we look out for and protect all of God’s children.
To be true spiritual fathers we priests need to keep our eyes focused daily on the God who is father of us all. God is the source of our loving and our giving. On a human plane we learn how to be like fathers from men we know and admire who live powerfully their vocation of human fatherhood. Such sacrificial love compels us as priests to reach ever higher toward that standard that Jesus sets before every disciple, lay or ordained, single or married: the standard of the cross and of God’s radical love.
As I stand before so many dedicated lay women and men, grateful for your support, I ask this of you: please pray for us priests. Pray that in spite of our weakness and weariness at times, we will always bring true fatherly care and devotion to you wherever we are called to be there for you: at the altar, or in the pulpit, at the meeting table or in the confessional, at the bedside or the graveside. And there is something we must pray for together: that from your families and our parishes will come future priests, ready and willing to say “yes” to what God asks of them.
But the word father does not say it all. There is another relationship that belongs to the priesthood. Before we are or can be fathers to you, we are brothers with you in the family of the Church. St. Augustine brilliantly captured the tension that we find in being leaders and servants at the one and the same time. He described the leadership of the ordained in these words: “We are at your head … but only if we are at your side.” More than ever we need to stand shoulder to shoulder beside the people we lead and serve.
As your brothers we priests need to be stretched by your dreams and your hopes, your aspirations — and your candor as well, coming as these must from people who love the Church. Countless times parishioners have come up to me with what seemed like an improbable idea, an impossible dream. I must confess a certain dread that used to come over me whenever a very creative parishioner I once knew would approach me with the words: “Father, I was thinking…”
But, then I look at what parishioners at my parish have initiated and sustained:
a thrift store, a food pantry, a lecture series, a parish library, a parish archives, building a home and rebuilding a chapel at our sister parish the Dominican Republic, to name just a few examples. A seasoned pastor once told me that one of the best things we can do as priests is just not get in the in the way of the Holy Spirit. Another assured me: “John, whenever your people succeed, you’ll get all the credit!” And you know what: they were right!
Today we need to stretch each other to accomplish a rebirth of our faith communities. We need to know how to serve as “good leaders and good shepherds,” never afraid to challenge the people we love… but never forgetting that we are sheep as well, along with the whole flock of Christ, our one true shepherd. By virtue of baptism we are all sons and daughters of God, our Father. Our first and constant calling is to live the priestly holiness of Jesus as brothers and sisters, equal by God’s grace. The wondrous grace of Holy Orders has been given to us as priests and it is an overwhelming honor and privilege. But it is given to us so that we might glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, and build up his body, the Church.
“We are at your head but only if we are at your side.” Just as critical for us as priests today is that we see our fellow priests as brothers needing to support each other. As our ranks keep growing thinner — and if I might add, as the age of retirement keeps going higher — the bond of priesthood must grow even stronger among us and show itself in the way we care for one other as brother priests.
Six years ago, the priests of this a rchdiocese gathered with others in the cathedral of the Holy Cross to welcome the man who would be father and brother to us. We looked the installation of a new archbishop to bring a glimmer of light and hope to the Church of Boston. We sought relief and renewal after the long night of shame and pain surrounding the abuse scandal. We were not disappointed. With the wit and wisdom that are the hallmarks of his preaching, Archbishop Sean paid tribute to us, now to be his priests. Clearly then and now, he stood with us and for us. …not quite like the rest of us, mind you, in his sandals, brown capuchin robes and zucchetto …yet one like us at the altar of God. For being father and brother to us, Cardinal Sean, we are very grateful to you.
Yet something else happened at that Mass… something wonderfully unexpected. The archbishop’s homily was interrupted when he spoke about the life and ministry of priests. The congregation stood and a thunderous applause erupted … applause for their priests. Suddenly, we felt an esteem and a respect that, honestly, we feared had been badly, perhaps irreparably, diminished.
You, God’s faithful people, had not forgotten your good priests, your imperfect but faithful fathers, your brothers in the Lord. You stood for us and with us so that we could once again stand with you and continue to do the work we were called to do for you.
Tonight I thank you for staying with your priests then, and for walking with us now, into whatever lies ahead in the future.
That future, with all of its uncertainties, is still “a future filled with hope.” Of this we can be sure, as we rely more than ever on the faithful love of our God, and as every one of us keeps saying “yes” to his call, and as we believe in and cherish the gift that he has given us in his Son, our High Priest, and the gift that we are for one another in his Church.
Thank you and God bless you!