Yesterday, as you all know, was Veterans’ Day, a day when our country pauses to remember the sacrifices of those who have served in our armed forces.
Veterans’ Day, in times like these, when we are experiencing war and our troops are in harms’ way, reminds us of our obligation to pray for our Armed Forces overseas and all those who suffer from the scourge of terrorism.
We’re also very proud of the extraordinary service that the priests of the archdiocese have provided, and continue to provide, to the men and women of the Armed Forces as chaplains of the different branches of the military.
Our Vicar General, Father Richard Erikson, who is also an Air Force chaplain, has written a beautiful reflection in this week’s Pilot on this, which I encourage you to read.
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I also wanted to take a moment to remember those who were killed in last week’s tragic attack on worshipers at the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad that killed about 60 people and two priests.
The cathedral after the attack
The attack was one more example of the persecution of the Church in that country. Half the Catholics have already been driven out, churches have been attacked and a bishop has been murdered with complete impunity. This event is just one more of the terrible results of this war.
We pray our leaders will be able to bring about a just peace there.
Certainly the themes that were dealt with at the synod on the Middle East underscored the dire situation of the Church in that part of the world. All of their fears were confirmed by this terrible attack.
The funeral of the victims
The situation in Iraq mirrors what’s happening in other countries of the Middle East, where Christians have been present there for 2,000 years. The area has been their home, and now they are being driven out.
This week, President Obama was in Indonesia and repeated his call for better relations with the Muslim world. That is something that we all desire. We long for the day when the moderate Muslims will begin to denounce these unjust terrorist attacks on innocent people.
In the meantime, our prayers accompany the people of Baghdad and all those who lost loved ones there.
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On Friday, I was visited by some Argentinian priests from Miles Christi, a community which gives Ignatian retreats.
With Father John Ersatzy and Superior General Delegate Father Caesar Bertolacci
They are interested in giving retreats here, so they wanted to come to Boston and share some information about their work with me.
Though they have an Ignatian spirituality, they are not Jesuits, but a new order. They were founded in Argentina in the 80’s, and approved as an order in 1999. They are now in a number of dioceses in the United States.
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I was heading off to the St. John’s Seminary alumni dinner, and so I invited them to join me there.
There was a wonderful turnout, with priests from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Providence who came back to be a part of it.
We began with a Holy Hour, at which I preached, and one of the deacons spoke at the dinner. He gave a beautiful reflection.
We’re anxious for the priests to feel at home in the seminary, and to return often. It’s always a great experience.
We’re grateful to Bishop Kennedy for organizing it. It was a great event.
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I was in Connecticut Saturday, where I spoke at the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Catechetical Congress held at Sacred Heart University. They had about 800 people there.
The theme was “Do Whatever He Tells You,” which incidentally is also my episcopal motto.
They had the six stone water jars on the stage
I gave a keynote address and the other speaker was Immaculée Ilibagiza, who has spoken at our Men’s and Women’s Conference here in the archdiocese.
Sacred Heart is one of the few diocesan universities in the country and we were able to have a tour of the university’s beautiful new chapel.
In the chapel are mosaics that were crafted by an Italian priest, who also did the mosaics at the Papal chapel and Fatima.
Before they have games, the school’s marching band plays a hymn in front of the chapel.
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Dominic and Marie, who have been parishioners at the Cathedral, for over 20 years, visited me Sunday to tell me about their work assisting the homeless.
A Nigerian religious sister, Sister Stella Maris, who started to work with the homeless in Nigeria came to visit them and encouraged them to start the same thing here.
Sister Stella Maris
They have started a group, called Pro Labore Dei, that takes food to the homeless once per week. It was started in Africa.
To me, it is beautiful to see how immigrants are spontaneously beginning these works of mercy.
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This year marks the 100th anniversary of St. Patrick School in Stoneham, and I went to their centennial celebration Sunday.
For over 80 years, the Sisters of Providence staffed the school, and many of them were there. During the celebration they recognized the sisters, and there was also a Papal blessing bestowed on the pastor, the parish and all who were involved in the school.
The pastor, Father Bill Schmidt
In a very fitting tribute with Veteran’s Day coming up, they also awarded diplomas to former students who left school in the 1940’s to fight in World War II. One of those students was killed in the war and others have subsequently passed away, and they awarded those diplomas posthumously. However, one gentleman, Mr. Andrew Prive, was present to receive his high school diploma.
Mr. Prive receiving his diploma
Though presently it has just grades 1 through 8, at the time of the Second World War St. Patrick’s had both a grammar school and a high school. A number of people who were at the Mass were graduates of that high school.
The school is flourishing under the wonderful work of the new principal, Arthur Swanson.
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Also Sunday, I said a Confirmation Mass for candidates from St. Mary Parish in Foxboro, though the Mass was at the Cathedral.
They had a very large confirmation class of about 140 young people. They wouldn’t have been able to do it in their church. So, the pastor, Father Steve Madden asked if we would do the confirmations in the Cathedral.
The cathedral was filled. There were about 1,500 people here for it. It was a beautiful event. For many of the people, I am sure it was the first time they visited the cathedral, which made the event even more special for them.
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Forty years ago on the Feast of Our Lady of Charity, I celebrated my first public Mass, and it was with the Cuban community in Washington.
Our Lady of Charity of Cobre
Many of those Cuban friends are still involved in this association of Cuban priests and lay leaders that meets once per year. They asked me to give a keynote address for them.
A number of the bishops and priests from Cuba were there.
It was held at SEPI. Father Mario Vizcaino founded a wonderful pastoral institute that serves the dioceses of the southeast. For many decades it has been training catechists and lay ministers.
Until next week,