I want to begin by offering our prayers for all those affected by this week’s violence in Mattapan.
We are very distressed by the violence in the city. I know the priests in the neighborhood are working with Mayor Menino and the other clergy to try to bring some measure of healing to the people who have suffered so much from these senseless killings. It just demonstrates the evil that can come from the proliferation of illegal drugs and guns in our communities.
Life is precious and we must never stop proclaiming that message, particularly to our young people.
Please pray for all those affected by this tragedy, and that our community and religious leaders will be guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit as they work for peace.
- – -
Late last week, I took part in a special meeting with bishops from around the world to discuss the status of relief efforts in Haiti.
The meeting was organized by the USCCB and the Haitian bishops’ conference. Representatives from various Catholic agencies and the bishops conferences of Germany, France, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and Italy participated. Archbishop Tom Wenski of Miami, Bishop Guy Sansaricq of Brooklyn and I, are on the USCCB special committee for Haiti and Archbishop Broglio represented the bishops from CRS.
The meetings were geared particularly toward planning the rebuilding of the Church in Haiti and the Catholic institutions at the service of the Haitian people.
A number of important ideas were broached, including a plan to guarantee that all projects that are funded by the bishops will be constructed according to architectural and engineering standards that will allow them to endure future natural disasters.
It was also a time to talk about the pastoral needs of the people and the priests of Haiti.
The head of CRS, Ken Hackett, also gave a report on the relief efforts being directed by CRS.
We met in Miami, and it happens that Archbishop Wenski had been the pastor of the Haitian parish there for 18 years as a young priest. One of the events was to have the bishops celebrate Mass at his former parish, Notre Dame d’Haiti.
The opening was on Tuesday night, and I was asked to give a keynote address in French about the spiritual needs of the priests in this time of crisis in the country.
The people of Boston have been exceptionally generous in their support of the Haitian relief efforts. Over $3 million was raised and many of our parishes and organizations are supporting relief efforts in Haiti. More than 70 doctors and nurses from our Catholic hospital system, Caritas Christi, have volunteered to help treat earthquake victims.
Another organization, The St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, is supporting hospitals and other social services in Haiti. They recently held their fundraiser at the Boston Garden.
- – -
Last Friday, Bishop Robert Hennessey celebrated Mass at Blessed Mother Theresa Parish to mark the opening of the new Cristo Rey Boston High School and then led the dedication and blessing of the school at its new home, the site of the former St. William’s School in Dorchester.
Father Ahern and Bishop Hennessey
The Mass was concelebrated by Father Jack Ahern, pastor of Blessed Mother Theresa and Father Jose Medina, the principal of the school. All of the students who were not on work study assignments that day attended. Also with us were Jeff Thielman, school president; Thomas P. O’Neill III, chair of the board of trustees; and board members Mary Grassa O’Neill, Archdiocesan Secretary for Education and Superintendent; and Elizabeth Lempres of McKinsey and Co.
Father Ahern, Tom O’Neill and Jeff Thielman
Cristo Rey Boston is the successor to North Cambridge Catholic High School. The move to the St. William school building is the product of many efforts on the part of Father Ahern, Jeff Thielman, Thomas O’Neill and Father Medina. I am very grateful for all their hard work and for the support of State Representative Martin Walsh and City Councilor Maureen Feeney, who also participated in the dedication.
Jeff Thielman and Father Medina
- – -
On Saturday afternoon, I visited Our Lady of Grace Parish in Pepperell to mark their one-year anniversary. Our Lady of Grace was formed in 2009 from the merger of St. Joseph Parish in Pepperell and St. James-Sacred Heart Parish in Groton. A few years ago (I am not sure exactly when this occurred) St. James merged with Sacred Heart in Dunstable to form one parish. The parish two worship sites — St. Joseph’s in Pepperell and St. James in Groton.
I celebrated a Mass at St. Joseph’s Church there and afterwards addressed parishioners at a meeting where they gathered to discuss the future of the parish.
Father Paul Ring is the pastor there and he has done a wonderful job spearheading a vision for the parish.
They had a magnificent choir and wonderful servers.
After the Mass there was a town meeting of the parish, so I addressed them with some words of encouragement and thanks for the leadership of Father Ring and the people of the parish to form this new community and encourage them in their plans for the future.
- – -
On Sunday we had our annual Red Mass at the Cathedral, where I was the main celebrant and homilist for a Mass of the Holy Spirit.
I was delighted at the wonderful response to the Red Mass this year. We had many lawyers, judges and law students attend the Mass and the luncheon.
In my homily, I quoted extensively from the Holy Father’s recent address at Westminster Hall in London. In that venue, where St. Thomas More was tried and condemned, the Holy Father gave a beautiful exposition on the proper relationship of church and state, and faith and reason.
After Mass we had a luncheon at the Seaport Hotel.
Professor Helen Alvare was the keynote and gave an extraordinary talk once again on faith and reason, demonstrating how the Church’s pro-life positions are supported by scientific and sociological studies.
She’s just such a wonderful witness to the Gospel of Life.
We were happy so many attended the luncheon and were able to hear her spirited presentation. We were particularly happy to see the number of law students that were there.
Judge Nolan, Paul McNamara and Father Mark O’Connell were so instrumental in arranging all the details.
- – -
Tuesday night I went to the Franciscan Hospital for Children’s Community Leadership Award Dinner.
During the evening they honored three individuals: Julie Khan of Entercom New England, Bob Wilson of Cambridge Savings bank and a young girl who has received care at the hospital, Kiki Nelson.
Julie Kahn, Kiki Nelson and Bob Wilson
I met Kiki during a visit to Franciscan Hospital a couple of years ago. I am pleased to say she is doing much better
It is a wonderful children’s rehabilitation hospital started by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Boston, and serves children with various health problems with such love and care.
With Sister Gloria Carpinello, Bob Wilson’s parents and Bob and Maria Wilson
I was happy to be a part of their annual fundraiser.
Their provincial was there with a number of the other sisters, as well as the CEO, Paul DellaRocco.
They are doing a wonderful job and we were happy to lend our support with their fundraising efforts.
Until next week,