As many of you know, our government has begun their final push to enact comprehensive health care reform.
The bishops’ position on health care reform has favored a new system that will provide universal coverage, but the current process may end up creating a bill that will provide federal funding for abortion. As much as we agree on the need to provide universal coverage, we cannot support a health care bill at the expense of life.
The Senate Bill that passed before Christmas and which is now expected to be “reconciled” is unacceptable in terms of funding for abortion and conscience protection. It even includes funding for Planned Parenthood abortion centers among other anti-life related issues.
I highly recommend that you watch this video from Kathy Saile, director of the U.S. Bishops’ Office For Domestic Social Development on the topic:
- – -
Last Friday, we officially kicked off our 2010 Catholic Appeal, “Called to Love and Share”, with a press conference at the Pastoral Center.
We were very grateful for the hard work of the Catholic Foundation staff on last year’s appeal, which resulted in us meeting our goal.
Scot Landry, our Secretary for Institutional Advancement
We began the new appeal last Sunday in most parishes of the archdiocese. As we have done many times before, I taped a homily that was offered to all parishes to be played at the Masses.
Then, at the same press conference, a number of the Boston media wanted to ask questions about my visit to Haiti, so I shared some of my experiences of last week’s trip with them.
- – -
On Sunday, I offered a Mass at St. Stephen’s in the North End, which is the headquarters of the Missionary Society of St. James.
During the Mass, we had the sending ceremony for two priests who are beginning their ministries in Latin America through the Society: Father Tom Keyes and Father John Molloy.
With Fathers Molloy and Keyes and the director of the St. James Society, Father Kevin Hayes
Father Keyes has served with the Society in Bolivia before and he is currently at St. Lucy’s in Methuen. He will be heading off in April to work in Peru.
Father Molloy is from County Clare, Ireland. His family and some of his classmates flew in from Ireland to join him for the sending Mass. I understand he will be in mission in Ecuador.
With Father Molloy and his parents, Margaret and Gerard Malloy
I blessed the missionary crosses which were given to them.
Father Kevin Hayes, the director of the St. James Society, spoke as well.
Cardinal Cushing started the society 50 years ago and during that time we have sent over 300 priests. May God bless and protect these men as they help to continue that important work!
- – -
Realizing that many, many Haitians would have no opportunity to bury their dead or to assist at a funeral Mass, we decided to have a memorial Mass at the Cathedral on Sunday. The Mass was offered for Archbishop Miot and all of those who died in the earthquake in Haiti.
We set up a catafalque to represent the dead. The Haitian choirs from St. John’s and St. Angela’s came together. Many members of the Haitian community and quite a number of the diplomatic corps from Boston attended the Mass.
The catafalque, which the platform on which a coffin normally rests during a funeral Mass
At the end of Mass, the consul general of Haiti addressed the crowd. There were almost 2,000 people in the Cathedral.
Consul General Ms. Emmanuelle Dupiton
It was a very moving experience for all of us. At the end of Mass, they sang the national anthem of Haiti.
There was a collection taken up for the Haitian relief efforts
At the Mass, we prayed for all of the dead. I wanted to assure the people attending of God’s mercy and love for us all, and that the earthquake should not be seen as a punishment.
In fact, Sunday’s readings were very appropriate. In the Gospel, Jesus uses the example of the Galileans killed by Pilate and those who died when they were crushed by the tower of Siloam. He says they didn’t suffer that fate because they were worse sinners than anyone else. Our God is a merciful God, who during this holy season of Lent, calls us to deepen our friendship with him so that we’ll be able to live in eternal life.
- – -
Sunday evening, I had another of our dinners with priests of the different vicariates of the archdiocese, this time at Parish of the Assumption in Lynnfield.
I think these gatherings have been a good way to promote priestly fraternity during the Year for Priests and to be able to thank the priests for their good work.
- – -
In the evening, I went over to Sacred Heart Parish in East Boston to hear confessions as part of the The Light Is On For You initiative.
At Sacred Heart, they had a rosary, stations, adoration, and Holy Hour during the time confessions were being heard.
Father Wayne Belschner organized it very well and good group of people came together to participate. I was happy to be a part of it.
We were happy for the publicity that this initiative has received. People are beginning to get the message and are coming for these opportunities to reconnect with the sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is so important in our own spiritual growth.
I encourage all of you to remind your friends that every Wednesday night we have this opportunity in all of our churches!
- – -
Yesterday, we had a luncheon to honor Diane Rosenbaum for her work at the Anti-Defamation League. We have had a longstanding relationship with ADL, and Diane, who’s moving on to other ventures, has been a particularly good friend to local Catholic-Jewish relations.
In addition to being involved with many other projects at ADL, Diane has spent a great deal of her time, devotion and enthusiasm overseeing a unique program co-sponsored by the archdiocese and the Anti-Defamation League. The program is called “New Directions” and is co-directed by two outstanding educators, Celia Sirois, who is Catholic, and Naomi Towvim, who is Jewish.
“New Directions” is a series of workshops to teach Catholic and Jewish religious educators how to talk about the other with accuracy and respect. We’re very grateful for all that Diane and ADL have done with us to continue to develop and fund this unique program. And we wish all the best to Diane as she seeks to continue her great work in Christian-Jewish relations.
Diane gave me this wonderful gift of an oil lamp from Israel from the 6th century.
- – -
Later I met with Rev. Jack Johnson of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and a number of the leaders of the other Christian denominations in Massachusetts, including Metropolitan Methodios.
We discussed a number of issues including the situation in Haiti and about the need to work together to oppose the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts.
Another issue of common concern we spoke about was ways to promote the Sabbath. More and more we are seeing social activities, like sports events and practices, that are scheduled on Sundays — at the same time as religious services. This is a matter of concern for all of us and we hope to work together so people do not feel forced to choose between attending church services and these other events.
- – -
Finally, this week we learned the sad news that Mr. Ray Tye had passed away.
With Ray at the 2009 Catholic Charities Spring Celebration
Ray was one of the most distinguished philanthropists from our local community. Foremost among Mr. Tye’s many good works was the Ray Tye Medical Foundation, which has transformed the lives of countless young people and families by providing them medical care that they would otherwise not have received.
Last year Catholic Charities was privileged to honor Mr. Tye with the Catholic Charities Justice and Compassion Award, without question he embodied the highest ideals the award represents.
We extend our prayers and condolences to Mr. Tye’s family, his colleagues, and all who knew him as a friend.
Until next week,