Last Friday I went to the Campion Center in Weston to participate in a day of recollection for priests of the West Region organized by Bishop Walter Edyvean.
I always encourage priests to spend time together, and I am always very happy to be a part of those gatherings as much as possible.
This was their advent gathering and they had a talk by Father Thomas Stegman, a Jesuit priest who teaches New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.
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From there, I went to the Cathedral where we had a Mass to give an official blessing to a new religious community, The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth.
Sister Olga Yaqob, who has been with us in the archdiocese for many years, accepted my invitation to discern the creation of this new order and we were happy to see that four candidates are already willing to join the community.
They received the miraculous medal as a sign of their love for the Blessed Mother and their commitment to bring her to the world. This new community will follow the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
It was a wonderful celebration, and I told the people afterwards how edified I was and encouraged by the enthusiasm that I see in our Catholic people for religious life.
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After the Mass I had one of the gatherings with seminarians that we schedule throughout the year.
This time, we met a rather large group, around 30 seminarians. Our number of seminarians is growing, and these meetings give us an opportunity to know them better and discuss topics of interest to them. This time, having had our recent gathering of priests, we talked about pastoral planning. I was impressed with their commitment to the Church and their desire to serve the people of God.
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That evening I also attended the Greater Boston Catholic Charities Christmas Dinner. This year they honored Jim Brett for his support of Catholic Charities and his longtime advocacy to the poor and particularly to individuals with mental disabilities.
With Catholic Charities’ president Debbie Rambo and Jim Brett
He was given the Richard D. Armstrong, Jr. Service Award, which honors those who live the Catholic Charities mission through service and an ongoing commitment to caring for those in need. Two of Richard Armstrong sisters were able to attend the event.
Vivian Soper, the head of Greater Boston Catholic Charities, organized a beautiful event and we are very happy for all the work they do for the poor.
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Saturday morning I went to St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Charlestown to dedicate the new altar for their renovated chapel.
We were all shocked by the new chapel, which had such a beautiful feel and look about it. It was stunning.
Even the ceiling panels were beautiful
It’s in the lower level of the church, where there is also the Good Shepherd School. This chapel hosts about 100 in the pews for celebrations.
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Later I was visited by Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath, who is the Syro-Malabar bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas, who came from the dedication at their new parish in St. Jeremiah in Framingham. He came for lunch, accompanied by the current pastor, Father Varghese, and the former pastor, Father Vadana.
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On Saturday, I celebrated Mass at the WQOM Catholic Conference at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
The conference was held to celebrate one year of Catholic radio in the Archdiocese of Boston.
It was great to greet many of the attendees and hear the impact that Catholic Radio is having on them and the community. I thank Jim and Joanne Wright and all those at WQOM for bringing Catholic radio and this Conference to the Archdiocese of Boston.
The Mass was beautiful with music led by the Boy’s Choir School at St. Paul’s Parish in Harvard Square and the participation of many priests and deacons.
The speakers earlier in the day were EWTN show hosts Brian Patrick, Father Mitch Pacwa and Dr. Ray Guarendi as well as Sister Olga from our Archdiocese.
Videos of those talks are available on the website of The Good Catholic Life program here.
Here is a video of my homily at the Conference for Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent).
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Sunday, I celebrated Mass at St. Bridget in Framingham marking the canonization of Bishop Guido Maria Conforti, the founder of the Xaverians. Bishop Guido Maria Conforti was an Italian bishop who, inspired by St. Francis Xavier, longed for the missions in China. He could not go himself so, instead, he founded a society that began with the missions in China and later spread to the rest of the world. He was canonized in October, along with St. Luigi Guanella.
We have had Xaverian Missionaries here in the Archdiocese for over 50 years. Perhaps one of their best-known and important ministries in the archdiocese is the Fatima Shrine in Holliston. Thousands of people visit the shrine each year.
They also have sisters in the diocese of Worcester, so I was accompanied in the Mass by Bishop Robert McManus, several members of the Xaverian Missionaries, as well as diocesan priests. Of course Msgr. Frank Strahan and Father Mark DeAngelis, the two priests of the parish, hosted us.
The Brazilian choir from St. Tarcisius sang, and there were faithful and flags representing the countries where the Xaverion Missionaries are working.
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Tuesday night I went to the Anti-Defamation League’s Interfaith Relations Award Dinner.
During the evening, Larry Rasky was presented with the 2011 Abraham Joshua Heschel Interfaith Relations Award. I was also asked to address the group.
ADL Regional Director Derek Shulman gave me a book on John Paul II and the Jewish people, which was published by the ADL.
It was compiled by Eugene Fisher and Rabbi Leon Klenicki. Leon Klenicki is the Argentine Rabbi who was a good friend of mine, who I asked the Holy Father to decorate as a Knight of St. Gregory.
This is an extraordinary reminder to us on how focused John Paul II was on transforming Catholic-Jewish relations. These are his complete texts on Jews, Judaism, and the State of Israel from 1979 to his death in 2005. The cover shows Pope John Paul II praying at the Western Wall.
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Wednesday morning we hosted a breakfast here at the Pastoral Center for the latest group of the Inner City Scholarship Fund’s Peter S. Lynch Scholars. It was a very large group, more than 50 students in all.
The Lynch scholars are picked from each of the elementary schools served by the Inner City Scholarship Fund. I was very happy to be joined for the occasion by Peter Lynch himself; along with Mike Reardon, the executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation; and Jack Regan, president of the CSF board of trustees. Our own Superintended of School, Mary Grassa O’Neill was with us as well.
We also recognized students who had won the Catholic Schools Foundation annual Christmas card art contest.
These students are just another example of the wonderful things taking place in our Catholic schools. We are so grateful to the Catholic Schools Foundation for all they do in helping to make that possible.
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Later that day I celebrated the funeral for Father James McCune.
He was a very beloved figure, priest secretary to Cardinal Medeiros and pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Canton, where his funeral Mass took place. Of course in his later years he served as the chaplain at Regina Cleri, our retirement home for priests.
Over 100 priests came to pay tribute to Father McCune. He was a kind and zealous pastor, he was a man who loved being a priest and loved priests. He was a great tribute to his ministry. He will be very sorely missed.
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And, finally, yesterday we held our annual Advent Gathering for our staff here at the Pastoral Center. Every year, we come together for Mass, followed by a light reception afterward.
At this time of year when so many family and friends come together it is always a wonderful opportunity to be with our Pastoral center family and thank them for all they do day-in and day-out in the service of the Church.
- Cardinal Seán