I hope you all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving!
I spent Thanksgiving with my family in Florida. We had a Mass at St. Richard’s Church in Miami where my cousin, Rob O’Malley, is a deacon.
Later in the day, we had Thanksgiving dinner together as a family.
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Before I get to the events of my week I want to share with you some pictures I took last week, when I was in Rome at the consistory.
I used my phone to photograph some the markings on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica that indicate the measurements of the different major churches of the world. Since St. Peter’s is, by tradition, the largest Christian church in the world, the marks on the floor indicate where the other churches would end if they were placed inside the basilica.
Among those marked are the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. I noticed that we beat New York, which will make all the Red Sox fans very happy!
In the second photo, I show that we are just a little smaller than the Hagia Sophia, which was the Byzantine cathedral in Constantinople and, for 500 years, was the largest building in the world.
Next to that is Westminster Cathedral, which is the Catholic cathedral of London.
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By Saturday, I was back in Boston, and that evening, I celebrated the Vigil for All Nascent Human Life at the Cathedral.
The Holy Father quite unexpectedly, but in a very beautiful gesture, called upon all dioceses of the world to join him in dedicating the first Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent (the beginning of the new liturgical year) to prayer for nascent life, particularly for the unborn and with a special view of underscoring the sacredness of human life even in the form of an embryo.
We were in our Cathedral for a very beautiful Holy Hour with Vespers, Rosary and Benediction. We also had a Mass for the first Sunday of Advent afterwards that was celebrated by Father Peter Grover, an Oblate of the Virgin Mary from St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in the Back Bay.
The vigil was an important gesture on the part of the Church to connect this theme with the opening of the liturgical year because the Gospel of Life is at the heart of Catholic social teaching. It needs to be constantly before our minds and in our prayers.
As I mentioned in my homily, just as we prayed for the end of Communism for so many years and those prayers came to fruition with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, so we must believe if we are faithful in prayer people’s hearts and the laws will be changed.
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On Sunday, I presented 98 faithful Catholics of our archdiocese with Cheverus Awards at an evening Vespers service at the Cathedral.
In the bicentennial year of the archdiocese, 2008, we instituted an award named for our first bishop who was a very holy and zealous priest, Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus, who came to this country at the time of the French Revolution.
He and Father Matignon were the two priests who took care of all the Catholics in New England, including the Native American tribes in Maine. He was also the one who built the first cathedral, the original Holy Cross Cathedral on Franklin Street.
Bishop Cheverus was beloved of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He made quite an impact in the Church of Boston before he was called back to be Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux in France, where he is buried.
The idea of the Cheverus medal is to recognize those unsung heroes and heroines who are the volunteers and staff — thousands of them who keep our parishes, agencies, and activities throughout the archdiocese running by their generous and faithful service. We take this opportunity to publicly thank them on behalf of the archbishop and the whole Catholic community.
We honor recipients from a third of the parishes at a time, as well as some submitted by the regional bishops. There are about 100 honorees each year, accompanied by about 1,700 people at the Cathedral for a Vespers celebration
I am very gratified this award has struck a chord with our people. It is something people are very enthusiastic about, very happy to be a part of, and delighted that men and women who are so involved in the life of the Church are recognized and thanked.
The list of this year’s recipients was published in The Pilot, which you can see by clicking here.
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On Monday, quite providentially, I was scheduled to have Mass and Confirmations at the Billerica House of Corrections.
Because the Middlesex County sheriff, James DiPaola, died very tragically, it was an opportunity to console his staff and colleagues at the House of Corrections. We offered the Mass for the repose of his soul and for the consolation of his wife and family.
Thirteen young men were confirmed at the Mass. Their families were able to attend the confirmation, which made it very special.
The choir from St. William’s in Tewksbury provided the music
With the Spanish bible group volunteers
With Steve Ultrino the Director of Education, Sean McAdam the Assistant Superintendent and Deacon Bill Emerson
With caseworker Dan Lee, Captain Linda Gannon and caseworkers Jacky Ingram and George Balian
There were also three deacons with me that day. Deacon Jim Greer, who is in charge of our prison ministries throughout the archdiocese, and Bill Emerson, who is a chaplain at the Billerica prison, assisted me on the altar. We also had a Melkite deacon with us — Deacon John MacMillan.
After the Mass and confirmations, we had a lunch that was served by the culinary training program they have there in the prison. It was amazing to see the caliber of training they are getting because it was a wonderful lunch.
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That evening, I celebrated the Feast of St. Andrew with Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios.
Each year, following the example of the Holy Father and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, we jointly celebrate the feasts of St. Andrew and St. Peter.
The Apostles Andrew and Peter were brothers. Andrew was the founder of the See of Constantinople and Peter the See of Rome, the Diocese of Rome.
In a very dramatic gesture of longing for unity between our Churches, the pope always sends a delegation to Constantinople to be present at the Phanar for the celebration of St. Andrew, and conversely the Ecumenical Patriarch sends bishops who represent him at the Vatican for the Feast of St. Peter.
We do parallel celebrations here in Boston between Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios and myself. I was at their celebration at the Cathedral Chapel in Brookline, where we celebrated the vespers for the Feast of St. Andrew, had the blessing of the bread and veneration of the icon of St. Andrew.
On the occasion, Metropolitan Methodios presented me with a beautiful mosaic of my coat of arms that was created by a very noted iconographer, George Papastamatiou.
We were very pleased that Father Ed O’Flaherty, Father David Michel and Vito Nicastro, of our Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, accompanied us for the occasion.
The mosaic is hanging outside the chapel in our Pastoral Center.
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The priests from Regina Cleri came to visit the Pastoral Center Wednesday for lunch and a tour of the building. It was also a Thanksgiving celebration to recognize and thank them for their many years of service.
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In the evening we had our Jesu Caritas meeting with those priests ordained ten years or less. There were about 30 priests there for it.
We had a Holy Hour, Vespers, dinner and discussions talking about the spiritual and pastoral life of a priest and theological readings. It was a wonderful discussion.
Until next week,