Hello everyone and welcome back!
Last Wednesday, I attended a St. Andrew’s Dinner at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham.
Regular readers will remember that these are the gatherings we hold periodically with young men who are open to considering a vocation to the priesthood.
This was the first time we met at St. Sebastian’s and the attendance was impressive — I would say there were about 100 young men. Of course, there were many students from St. Sebastian’s but, as always, attendees came from all over the diocese. There were also several priests and teachers accompanying them.
Two of our seminarians gave very good talks about how they found their vocation. Afterwards, there were some questions and answers and then I addressed the young men.
So far, 2,000 young men have participated in these St. Andrew’s Dinners. It is one of our primary tools of vocation outreach. We are very grateful to the parishes and schools that participate by sending us names of young men who may be discerning God’s call to the priesthood.
The venue was magnificent. St. Sebastian’s School is an extraordinary resource in the archdiocese. It is a school with a very strong Catholic ethos.
Bill Burke, the headmaster, has done a great job there. Our visit coincided with his birthday, so they had a nice birthday cake to celebrate.
The seal of the school has two arrows that symbolize the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. It also includes Tertullian’s famous phrase — Semen est sanguis Christianorum — which means “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
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On Thursday, there was a vicariate dinner meeting at St. Mary Parish in Wrentham.
We have organized these dinners throughout the Year for Priests. They allow me to have an opportunity to spend an evening with the priests of each vicariate in an informal setting where we can get to know each other better.
The next day, we also had a vicariate pastoral planning meeting at Gate of Heaven Parish in South Boston. There we met to present the priorities of the archdiocese to the priests, and receive their input and ideas.
The presentation was made by Father David Couturier, our Director of Pastoral Planning.
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On Saturday morning, we had the great joy of ordaining Daniel Moloney, Guy Sciacca and Gregory Vozzo transitional deacons. These are the men who, God willing, will be ordained to the priesthood in May.
Deacon Sciacca is a graduate of Blessed John XXIII National Seminary and Deacons Molony and Vozzo attended St. John’s Seminary.
Of course, many of the families and friends of the ordinands were there. In my homily, I thanked them for supporting these men during their formation.
I also spoke about the martyrdom of St. Sebastian (recalling my visit to St. Sebastian School earlier in the week) and St. Stephen, as well as the ministry of the deacon Philip.
Though every ordination is a great blessing, this was certainly small class for us. It was a visible reminder of the situation the Church was in six years ago.
In fact, it is a testimony to the faith of these men that they had the courage to come forward, even at that very difficult time. As I often say, following the Gospel is the ultimate counter-cultural action.
There was a wonderful joint choir who sang
We asked people to pray for vocations, particularly during this Year for Priests.
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That evening, I departed for Peru to visit our men who are serving in the missions with the Society of St. James the Apostle.
Every year, the priests of the Society meet at their central house in Lima, usually around the first week of February.
I do my best to be with them every year. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend last year so I was particularly happy to be able to be with them this year.
The St. James Society has been a great blessing for the archdiocese. Over their 52-year history, about 300 priests have been sent to minister in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Currently, there are about 35 priests currently serving in Peru and Ecuador. Right now, only one is serving in Bolivia.
During this last year, we have sent two priests from Boston and there are more priests arriving from Ireland.
During the gathering I gave a couple of conferences on the priesthood, as we celebrate the Year for Priests.
We also had a celebration of anniversaries of priestly ordination on Candlemas Day, February 2.
In the past it was common for Boston priests to be ordained on Candlemas Day. For instance, Bishop Irwin celebrates his anniversary on Candlemas Day and some of his classmates who are priests of the St. James Society were there.
During my visit we also had a lunch with the papal nuncio in Peru and a number of the bishops who came to say how grateful they are for the presence of the St. James Society in their dioceses.
Once in Lima, we visited the Cathedral once again.
It is a very impressive structure
This is the old bishop’s palace next to the cathedral in the plaza
The seat of government is also in the main plaza which the typical Spanish design
In the cathedral, we prayed at the tomb of St. Martin de Porres and took some photos so we can share some of the cathedral’s beauty with you.
These are relics of the wooden bed of St. Martin De Porres. As you can see, people leave prayer intentions for the saint next to the tomb
This is a statue of the saint. I though it was very interesting because there is this “sombrero” on his broom, that looks like a Mariachi hat.
This is St. Rose of Lima’s altar. Around her are the other peruvian saints, San Francisco Solano, Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo and San Martin de Porres
This is the “Sala Capitular,” the chapter room with the throne, with pictures of all the archbishops
These skulls are in the crypt. They used to bury all the people down there
Those are tombs. There is a glass plate in the floor. We are looking down at the coffins below.
This is the choir and the bishop’s throne. We took the picture because the carvings are so extraordinary.
This is more of the choir stalls and you can also see the main altar
The pulpit, which is very beautiful
This is the Dolorosa (Our Lady of Sorrows) on the andas (the float) to carry her in procession through the streets of Lima on Good Friday
An old colonial cross. Below is the tomb of Cardinal Juan Landazuri, who was the archbishop I knew when I first visited Lima. He was a Franciscan and was very beloved by the peruvians
This is where Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who founded the city, is buried.
He was the one who gave the land for the original cathedral, which was replaced eventually by the current one to accommodate the growing Catholic population.
These are the murals in the chapel where Pizarro is buried
Pizarro’s family crest
We also visited the Dominican convent where San Martin lived, which is one block away from the cathedral.
These are the tiles in the patio of the Dominican convent, which have an interesting design. Black and white are the Dominican colors
I want to leave you with a beautiful view from the Saint James Society’s central house in Lima.
From there, at night you can see a large illuminated cross that dominates the view of the bay.
Until my next post