Cardinal Seán's Blog

Cardinal Seán shares his reflections & experiences.

The Baker’s Dozen

Hello and welcome back!

This year, we are very blessed that we have over 70 men studying for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston. On Friday, we had a Holy Hour and dinner for them at the Pastoral Center.

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At different times during the year, I like to meet with the seminarians together as a group and also in smaller gatherings.

Father Dan Hennessey gave a short talk and then I also gave some remarks.

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On Saturday, I had the pleasure of ordaining 13 permanent deacons for our archdiocese, whom I refer to as “the baker’s dozen.”

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The ordination Mass was wonderful and it is always inspiring to be able to ordain these men who have answered God’s call to serve the Church through this ministry.

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As a young priest, I myself used to run a diaconate program. I have great admiration for the work that deacons do and I know that our priests are very grateful for their presence in our parishes.

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This year, in addition to parish assignments, the deacons were also given assignments to assist with different ministries and offices of the archdiocese, such as prison ministry or the Pro-Life Office. We are very blessed that, going forward, we will be having diaconate ordinations every year.

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We are grateful to Deacon Dan Burns, Deacon Pat Guerrini, and Sister Mary Reardon and for all of the teachers and workers in the diaconate program.

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The following day, Sunday, we had the annual Red Mass for those involved in the practice of law. The Red Mass has its origins in England and France, where it was the opening Mass for the courts, calling on the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom. The Mass gets its name from the red vestments of the Mass of the Holy Spirit and also the red robes judges wore at the time.

In every diocese where I have been bishop, I have begun a Red Mass if they didn’t have one. There has always been a great response by those in the legal profession. Here in Boston, the Mass is organized by the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of the archdiocese. Every year, the Guild hosts the Red Mass Luncheon following the Mass.

In my homily I addressed a ballot initiative petition, recently certified by the Attorney General of Massachusetts, in support of legalizing physician assisted suicide in our state. I wanted to raise this issue with the jurists because I think they have a unique responsibility and an opportunity to influence public policy in the Commonwealth. I wanted to bring to them the fact that this initiative is afoot.

We must be alert and engaged in an aggressive education process because very often, at first take, people can be seduced by the language of “compassion” and “dignity.” However, I think that when people understand the issue further, they will realize that when we are talking about assisted suicide, we are talking about participating in a murder of a human being.

We also look at the experience of Oregon, where they have legalized physician assisted suicide for the terminally ill and now, a few years later, they have among the highest suicide rates in the country. As I said in my homily, a vote for physician assisted suicide is a vote for suicide. It’s telling people that this is a legitimate “out” if you are suffering or if you have a problem. It also sets the government up to decide what categories of people have a life that is worth living — a very dangerous prerogative.

And of course for us, as believers, we know that God’s law is written on our hearts and we see that faith and reason certainly coincide in indicating here what is the best course of action for the common good and for society. I was very pleased by the response that the lawyers gave to the message and their desire to be on board in fighting against the practice of physician assisted suicide.

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At the luncheon after the Mass, there was an extraordinary talk by Justice Phillip Rapoza, who spoke about St. Thomas More. He gave some very interesting facts about the saint’s life and interpreted them for today’s world. Like St. Thomas, we are called upon to live our faith in a time of opposition and of challenge.

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Justice Rapoza

We are grateful to the president of the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild, Justice Joseph Nolan, and their chaplain, Father Mark O’Connell, for their efforts in organizing the Mass and luncheon.

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Then, in the afternoon, I went to visit the Daughters of St. Paul in Jamaica Plain where they had a tea event. This is the event’s second year and they give out an award called the Cordero Award. It is named after Mother Paula Cordero, who brought the order to the United States with some of their early sisters. I was very pleased to attend this event, which raises money to support the Daughters’ formation program.

This year, the Cordero Award was presented to Father Bob Reed, the president of the CatholicTV Network. Father Reed gave a very beautiful talk on his ministry in the media.

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Father Reed delivering his talk. Behind him is the photo of Mother Paula Cordero

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That evening, I went to the home of Consuelo Isaacson for the annual gathering she hosts to raise funds for Caritas Cubana, which supports the Church’s social ministries in Cuba. Particularly, it supports daycare centers and centers for the elderly, food programs, and provides medical supplies.

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With Consuelo Isaacason

Caritas Cubana is an extraordinary organization that has achieved so much, despite the fact that the government in Cuba has not allowed the Church to really participate in the social ministries. Yet, Caritas Cubana has been able to support the initiatives that are taking place in the parishes.

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On Monday, I attended a Red Sox game with our senior priests from Regina Cleri. It was a beautiful day; we had a lovely box at Fenway Park that was generously provided to us by Hill-Holiday. John Kaneb, who is one of the owners, was with us.

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It was a perfect day, the only fly in the ointment was that the Orioles won the game! I must say it was one of the few times I’ve ever gone to a Red Sox game where they didn’t win. But they won that night, so apparently we went to the wrong game.

I was pleased to see Father Phillip King, who is well known among Boston priests and who recently published a book on Biblical archeology. He will soon be moving into Regina Cleri, along with Father Vincent Dailey, the uncle of Father Vin Dailey at St. Gregory’s in Dorchester.

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With Father King and Father Dailey

Despite the Red Sox’s loss, it was a great opportunity to be with our senior priests and I think they all enjoyed it very much.

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On Tuesday, I had lunch at the cathedral with the new bishop of the Diocese of Manchester N.H., Bishop Peter Libasci.

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We had a nice visit with him on his way back from New Hampshire, where the announcement of his nomination was made the day before. We are looking forward to his installation, which will be on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8.

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That afternoon, I attended a ground breaking of the Barstow Village housing development in Hanover, which will provide affordable housing for senior citizens.

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They have already begun the foundation and hope to have it finished in a few months.

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This project is just another example of the extraordinary work our Planning Office for Urban Affairs does in developing mixed income and senior housing.

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Later that day, I had Mass at the Pastoral Center for the Catholic Charities board, followed by their annual meeting.

Catholic Charities, of course, is doing extraordinary work in these difficult times. During the meeting we heard that Charities has been able to stabilize their financial situation with the help of so many generous donors. We also received a report on the important work being done at the afterschool programs of the Labouré Child Care Center in South Boston.

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On Wednesday morning, I visited St. Agatha Parish in Milton to celebrate the 70th anniversary of their school. They have 604 students in the school, which was originally staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Father Peter Casey is the pastor and they have an outstanding program there.clip_image032

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At the Mass, the children’s choir sang and the children participated with such fervor and devotion that really makes you more convinced than ever of the value of our Catholic schools in evangelizing and introducing our children to the faith.

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That evening, I attended Blessed John XXIII National Seminary’s 30th Annual Lawn Party in Weston. As many of you will know, Blessed John is very special in its role of forming men over age 40 for the priesthood for dioceses throughout the country.

As they usually do, during the dinner we heard talks by two seminarians, one studying for the Archdiocese of Boston and one from another diocese. Both gave excellent witnesses.

The one from Boston, David Goldman, is a convert from Judaism who had contemplated becoming a rabbi at one point. After reading the New Testament, a long period of prayer and consultation with priests, he decided to enter the RCIA in 2009.

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The other man, James Nolte, is from the Springfield Diocese and he gave a compelling talk about praying for a servant’s heart even as a boy, and then having a variety of jobs before deciding to enter the seminary. He is due to be ordained this spring.

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I’m always very impressed by the vocational stories of the seminarians from Blessed John XXIII. They all have very interesting lives and, at a certain point, the grace of God brings them to the vocation of the priesthood.

In my remarks, I told the people that I’m the only bishop in the United States who has had four dioceses. They are all very different, but one thing they had in common was priests who were graduates of Blessed John. They were all excellent priests, so I thanked the guests for their support of the seminary.

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Dr. John LaRossa and his wife Gretchen were chairpersons for the committee that worked so hard to put together this important event, which raises about a quarter of a million dollars for the seminary.

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We are very grateful to the committee, the rector Father Bill Pallardy and all those who came to support the work Blessed John XXIII Seminary.

Until next week,

Cardinal Seán

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