Happy New Year to all!
Each year since I have been ordained a priest, I have always celebrated a midnight Mass to begin the New Year. This year was no exception.
I remember that when I was in the Virgin Islands, I was amazed at how this custom was central in the spirituality of the people there. Virtually all of the churches would be packed with people going to church to end the old year and begin the new in church. It was really a very moving experience.
When I arrived in Boston, there was already a tradition of having a midnight Mass sponsored by the Pro-Life Office and the Young Adult Ministry, and I have been happy to continue that tradition.
In the past, the New Year’s Eve Mass has usually been celebrated in one of our parishes. This year, however, we thought it might be interesting to try holding it at the Cathedral, in light of the fact that there is a First Night celebration in downtown Boston, which is nearby.
We began the evening with a Holy Hour, the theme of which was “Peace.”
Sister Olga Yaqob, who is a native of Iraq and works in campus ministry at Boston University, gave a very moving testimony about her experience of war in her own country.
Just before midnight, we began the Mass that celebrated the New Year and the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God.
Father Carlos Flor of Immaculate Conception in Revere chanted the Gospel
Afterwards, there was a social to celebrate a little bit with the people.
We had a wonderful attendance this year from all over the archdiocese — I would estimate that there were about 600 people, as well as many priests who came to concelebrate. We were very pleased that so many from the Neocatechumenal Way joined us.
Between the Holy Hour and Mass, the children of the Neocatechumenal Communities sang carols for us
Marianne Luthin of our Pro-Life Office proclaimed the Prayers of the Faithful
This couple, Peter Spilka and Rosa Fernandez-Pizzi, had just gotten engaged earlier in the evening, so I gave them my blessing. Congratulations Peter and Rosa!
It was a very wonderful event and a good way to begin the year 2010 asking God’s blessing for peace in the world and an end to abortion in our country and our society.
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The next morning, I celebrated Mass with the Haitian community in the archdiocese at the Cathedral.
When I came to Boston, I initiated a Mass to mark Haitian Independence Day, which is January 1. It is always a wonderful opportunity to gather the Haitian Catholics from our various parishes to come together in the Cathedral to mark this very important day in their life as a nation. Haiti was the first black republic in the world, having had a slave rebellion that freed them from French colonialism over 200 years ago.
This year, in addition to the beautiful choir that always sings so beautifully, the Haitian American Marching Band of Boston performed.
The band presented me with a copy of their DVD
Here is a video of one of their performances:
At the end of the very long and beautiful Mass, we chanted the “Te Deum.” It is the custom of the Haitians to begin the New Year with that beautiful hymn that is traditionally said in Catholic countries on New Year’s Day. It is a prayer from the breviary of praise and thanksgiving to God.
It was a fitting end to our celebration of the Haitian Independence Day.
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Later that day, I travelled to Florida to join a group of Boston students in attending the bi-annual conference of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students).
With the Boston group
There were many inspiring speakers and I celebrated the closing Mass for the conference, which, I would say, was attended by about 6,000 young people.
This video gives you a sense of the spirit of the conference.
Last year, we brought FOCUS to the archdiocese to assist in campus ministry. FOCUS is a peer ministry by young adults who commit themselves to be missionaries for a year or two and to work in campus ministry throughout the country. We have four such missionaries who come to help us in Boston with campus ministry, which, of course, for us is such an important activity since we have about a quarter of a million college students.
The service they provide to the Church is truly inspiring. We know that it is making a big difference on many, many campuses throughout the country.
While we were there, we also visited the very famous National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando.
The sculpture of Mary, Queen of the Universe
I had never been there before. It is a very beautiful church. That church was built to accommodate the thousands of tourists who go each year to Disney World.
It is truly a stunning church that was recently elevated to a minor basilica.
Until next week,