Greetings everyone and welcome back!
Last Wednesday we had the meeting of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
Just as I have a group of priests on the Presbyteral Council who gather with me on a regular basis to discuss the challenges, plans and aspirations of the diocese, there is also a group of lay people and some religious who meet with me on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
It would be tantamount to a parish pastoral council, but at the level of the archdiocese.
At this month’s meeting, which we held at our Pastoral Center, we broached a number of important topics, including pastoral planning and the Catholics Come Home initiative.
We have people representing the different regions of the archdiocese. It’s a very helpful group. I am very grateful to Sister Marian Batho who coordinates the APC.
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Just as I mentioned my meeting with the Major Superiors of Women Religious a couple weeks ago, each year I meet with Major Superiors of Men Religious that are represented in the Archdiocese.
Some of those communities are running schools, others are staffing parishes and others are working in various agencies.
This year’s meeting occurred last Thursday.
Sister Marian, as our Delegate for Religious also facilitates these meetings.
It’s a chance for us to hear from them, and to share with them plans, what is happening in the diocese and how we might collaborate in various initiatives with the religious communities.
During our meeting, Father David Couturier gave a talk on our ongoing pastoral planning in the archdiocese.
It’s an important time for us to get together.
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That evening, I attended the annual Inner-City Scholarship Fund Dinner Celebration at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.
Each year, this event, organized by the Catholic Schools Foundation, raises money for scholarships for inner-city Catholic school students.
Mary Richardson, whom many of you will remember from her many years hosting Chronicle, was the emcee and Jack Connors and Ted Kelly were the dinner co-chairs.
Of course, for many years Peter Lynch has been the “lynch-pin” of the organization, to use a play on words. This is the 22nd year we have had this initiative and during this time, Peter Lynch has raised $100 million for Catholic schools.
This year’s gala was a great success, raising almost two and a half million dollars. That, added to the other money that has come in, will enable them to give out over $6 million worth of scholarships this year to Catholic schools. It’s a very important initiative on behalf of the Catholic schools and we are very grateful to all those who have contributed.
As always, the students from the different Catholic schools displayed special projects they have been working on this year.
We also had a performance by students from St. Peter School in Cambridge. They put on some pieces from the musical Les Miserables. It was just outstanding.
They had a very nice video presentation on Catholic education.
Then we heard remarks from Rudy Favard, a student from Malden Catholic who helps the Parker family of Melrose care for their disabled child, Sammy.
Rudy visits their home a number of nights each week and carries the boy to bed, as the boy’s father is unable to do so, given some recent heart surgery. It was a very moving speech.
The Boston Globe first spoke about it last year, and then it went national when World News tonight reported on this special relationship.
From this selfless act, we are inspired by the kindness of this young man, who gave a beautiful speech on his family, who are Haitian immigrants, as well as the importance of Catholic education in his life and his gratitude to the people of the Catholic Schools Foundation and all the people who contribute to Catholic education in the archdiocese.
During the dinner, Rudy was presented with a $5,000 scholarship to help him attend Sacred Heart University in Connecticut in the fall
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On Saturday I joined about 500 of our youth at the Eucharistic Congress in the North End.
We had a Mass at Sacred Heart Church in the North End, dinner with food provided by the local merchants, a reflection by Sister Mary Karen Toomey of the Sisters of Life and then Eucharistic adoration.
Sister Mary Karen
At 9:30 we began the Eucharistic procession that ended with Benediction at St. Leonard’s Church at 11:00.
The choir from the College of St. Mary Magdalen in Warner, New Hampshire was there, and they sang for the Mass and during the procession.
The procession was very moving. They rang the bells in the various churches, and many people came out of the restaurants to see the procession and pray with us. Many commented on how proud they were to be Catholic.
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The next morning, I went to Northeastern University for a Mass with the students at the Catholic Center there.
They have a beautiful musical group that plays there and a very active campus ministry.
The center is right across the street from what used to be St. Anne’s Church, which was where we had the Mass. The school’s Catholic population uses that church for their Masses.
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Sunday evening I went for prayer and Mass at St. Anthony Shrine in downtown Boston with the Franciscan friars.
I wanted to share with you some photos of the murals in their friary chapel that were done last year, and include depictions of St. Francis, St. Clare, the San Daminano Cross and the Rose Window in the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi. They are painted on a flat wall but done in such a way that they appear three-dimensional. They are very well done.
We’re grateful for the services the Franciscan Friars provide.
Father Convertino, the superior, is going to be leaving Arch Street, and a new superior, Father Kelly, is coming to take his place.
We’re grateful for the many hours of confessions, the many Masses, the ministry and outreach to the people of the city the friars provide. They are a very important presence of the Church in the middle of our city.
We know many thousands of people, for instance, were there on Ash Wednesday. They distributed ashes all day long, non-stop.
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The McGrath family, who have been so generous in supporting the many activities of the Catholic Church and many worthwhile programs in the local community, invited me to an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Monday on blown glass. The artist is Dale Chihuly, who has his studio in Seattle and learned some of his techniques in Murano near Venice, Italy.
I was really quite impressed by the beauty of the forms and the colors he achieved in those pieces beginning with a huge green column they put in the atrium of the new wing.
The forms and colors make you feel as if you are walking through Walt Disney’s film, Fantasia. He has these sort-of chandelier forms that are not lights. It’s just all glass, but the colors and the lines are so beautiful.
It really was a very unusual exhibit for me to attend. My taste in art is very traditional, and these modern type of things don’t usually appeal to me. But I thought this was just splendid. I am so happy to have been invited to be there to experience it.
There is a beautiful video on the museum’s web page that gives you a sense of the artist’s work.
Afterwards we were invited to a reception with the McGraths, Malcolm Rogers and members of the staff.
With Blake Jordan of the Highland Street Foundation, Damien DeVasto of our staff, David McGrath, Lisa and Sean McGrath, JoAnn McGrath, Leslie and Dale Chihuly, Holly McGrath and Malcolm Rogers
JoAnn and Dale Chihuly
The dinner, which was attended by about 1,000 people, was interrupted by a fire alarm. The reception was supposed to end at 8:00 — and really it ended at 8:00 because they had to evacuate everybody from the building because of a fire alarm!
So I had an opportunity to meet many of the people who had been at the reception as we stood on the sidewalk waiting for the fire department to come.
Malcolm Rogers was very distraught this would happen on their opening night, but I told him that in our churches sometimes during our biggest celebrations the incense sets off the fire alarm and we have to stop everything and wait for the fire department to come. I said, this too will pass.
In Boston, our community is very proud of this museum. It’s one of the finest museums in the country. This beautiful exhibit just shows the availability of these great cultural events for our local community.
We’re grateful to the Highland Street Foundation for their support of these types of activities that bring joy and enrichment to our community.
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On Tuesday, I spoke at the Tending the Talents graduation we held at our Pastoral Center. The class that graduated was the first group to graduate the program in our archdiocese.
Tending the Talents is a program for lay pastoral staff encouraging them to further develop their leadership skills. During the program, they self-evaluate their working styles and preferences and examine how their own talents and abilities can be utilized with those of others to achieve a common good.
We were pleased that 17 leaders from our parishes and one member of my staff participated in our first Tending the Talents session. The group included lay staff and some religious sisters.
Tending the Talents is run by the Catholic Leadership Institute, based in Pennsylvania. The program evolved from another curriculum of the Catholic Leadership Institute for priests — Good Leaders, Good Shepherd.
Tim Flanagan, the brother of Father Brian Flanagan, who was one of my priests in Palm Beach, began Good Leaders, Good Shepherds, which is a training program to develop leadership skills for priests.
Many of our priests have completed the program and they tell me it has been a wonderful experience.
They have also some sessions for bishops, which I attended.
During the Tending the Talents graduation they invited participants to share how the program has impacted them. Sister Kathy Stark, who is the religious education director at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Chelsea, gave some moving testimony which I want to share with you here:
Through the years we as Church have focused so much on the spiritual – we didn’t seem to think professional (so called “secular”) preparation had a place in church life. “The Grace of the Office” is all you need – do you remember hearing this? – as if faith alone could stand me on a mountain top.
With Sister Kathy and Susan Wallace of the Catholic Leadership Institute
What a breath of fresh air it is for me to see how far we have come. It is possible for the seed of faith to grow as we Tend the Talents of nature.
While new skills have been learned, for me it is the great balancing act of values and time. I don’t expect those skills to be visible yet. I am reminded of Jesus and how he commended the unjust steward who was wiser than the children of light.
The challenge I take home with me today is simple: Do I dare to wield the state of the art tools of this world for the sake of the Kingdom?
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That evening, I attended the annual awards banquet hosted by the Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults, where they recognize the outstanding contributions of our young people and the adults who serve them.
This year they gave over 100 awards of recognition for youth, young adults, and adults involved in youth and young adult ministry.
I had the chance to meet many outstanding young people that night, including Elizabeth Oppong, who won a St. Timothy Award. She attends Phillips Andover Academy and is a very active participant of the Catholic campus ministry program there.
It was a very uplifting event. We are so grateful to all those who lend their time and talent to our ministry to youth and young adults.
Until next week,