Hello and welcome back!
I want to begin this week noting two important occurrences.
This week we were pleased to express our support for the 43 dioceses and Catholic institutions that filed suit in federal court to prevent the implementation of the federal mandate that would require most health plans offered by Catholic employers to cover drugs and procedures they find morally objectionable.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues in its efforts to counteract the nefarious effects of the mandate, which is an intrusion into the practice of religion in our country. There is an ongoing dialogue with the White House (which has not been terribly fruitful) and there continue to be efforts in Congress, but it was thought that the courts must be also part of the strategy. So, a number of dioceses and institutions were identified in different areas of the country to join in a lawsuit.
Those suits are going forward and we are also waiting to hear what the Supreme Court will decide in their review of the Affordable Care Act.
In light of these events, we can see that the observance of the Fortnight for Freedom will serve as an important tool for Catholics to understand the issues that are at stake.
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Also this week we saw the passing of the great Boston historian Thomas O’Connor. He was a particularly astute historian of the Church in Boston and Irish immigrants here.
His writings have been very important. We are particularly grateful for the history that he prepared for the bicentennial year of the archdiocese.
His passing is a great loss.
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On Thursday, we gathered for the Catholic Charities Spring Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where over $1 million was raised to support the work of Catholic Charities.
The person honored this year with Catholic Charities’ Justice and Compassion award was Gloria White-Hammond who is a minister, as well as a pediatrician. She has done extraordinary work in our local community as well as in Africa in places such as Sudan.
Her husband is also a minister and physician and both are prominent community leaders who have been very supportive of the programs of Catholic Charities.
We are very happy to be able to honor her she gave a very beautiful acceptance speech.
Catholic Charities’ president Debbie Rambo and her staff do such a wonderful job and I was very happy to see the fundraiser was so successful this year.
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May is the time of Confirmations and graduations. This week, I was very happy to be able to participate in several events marking these important milestones for our young people.
On Friday, I attended the graduation of Malden Catholic High School. It is a very large high school, and there must have been over 700 students in attendance. The school is another shining example of the ministry of the Xaverian Brothers.
We had the baccalaureate Mass, at which they honored a number of fathers and sons and grandfathers, who were all graduates of Malden Catholic. It was a very moving testimony to the enduring legacy of the Catholic education imparted there.
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Then on Saturday I went to St. Patrick’s in Watertown to celebrate confirmations in the parish.
The Watertown–Belmont parishes came together for a joint confirmation there.
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On Sunday, we had the commencement of Boston College High School. I gave the commencement address in the gymnasium.
It is the largest Catholic high school in the archdiocese and there were about 3,000 people in attendance.
It was a beautiful celebration.
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On Monday I attended the commencement of Boston College, where I delivered the benediction.
The commencement speaker was journalist Bob Woodruff who gave a beautiful address, talking about his own life experience. He was seriously injured when a road-side bomb hit the military convoy he was riding in while he was covering the war in Iraq.
He spoke about a near-death experience he had and how important faith is in people’s lives. And he urged the young people to come to grips with these larger questions of life. He told them that one never realizes how important these issues are until one gets older and begins to face dramatic situations in life. He said faith can be a great source of strength through these moments.
It was a truly personal experience and a great witness.
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That evening I was invited to travel to New York to attend the premiere of the film “For Greater Glory.”
A number of representatives of the Knights of Columbus, including Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and his wife were there, along with the producer Pablo Barroso and his family, Bishop Octavio Cisneros, many members of the clergy and religious including many Sisters of Life.
With Bishop Cisneros, Pablo Barroso and Father Kevin O’Leary at the premier
I was also very happy to see Rep. Chris Smith and his wife, Marie, who are very strong pro-life advocates. It was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with them.
The film was very powerful and I think will have a very powerful impact on viewers. As I mentioned in a previous post, it illustrates a period of Mexican history that many Americans are unaware of. It also shows the people’s struggle for religious freedom right on our borders.
The premier was held on the feast of the Mexican Martyrs and I believe three of the characters in the film depict those beatified martyrs. Many of those martyrs were members of the Knights of Columbus and this is why the Knights have been so involved in promoting this new film.
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On Tuesday we had one of our regular meetings of the board of St. John’s Seminary. However this meeting was particularly special because it was the final meeting with Bishop Arthur Kennedy as Rector.
The meeting was held at the St. Gabriel’s campus at St. John’s, which is where the TINE classes are held. It was an opportunity to thank Bishop Kennedy for the extraordinary work he has done.
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That evening I went to Boston University to honor the 12 recipients of the university’s Medeiros scholarships.
The scholarship was established by former Boston University president John Silber to honor Cardinal Medeiros, and provides a full four-year scholarship to graduates of Catholic High schools in the archdiocese.
In my remarks, I told the students and their families a little about who Cardinal Medeiros was, his experience as an immigrant, and how important an education was in his life.
He had been a factory worker in Fall River and was going to drop out of school, but his teachers prevailed upon his parents to allow him to continue his studies. Of course, we know he went on to a brilliant academic career, eventually becoming Archbishop of Boston.
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Each year, we have a Mass and a luncheon to which we invite the new superiors of women religious communities that have been elected during the last calendar year. This year, we celebrated the Mass this past Wednesday in the Chapel here at the pastoral center.
We are very pleased to have this opportunity to welcome them. We are as always grateful for the important work women religious do in our archdiocese and for the important role they play in the church.
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Wednesday, I was very pleased to attend the commencement exercises of the Master of Arts in Ministry program which is part of the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization at St. John’s Seminary.
This has been a very important formation program for lay ministers in the Church. We are very grateful to Dr. Aldonna Lingertat, the staff of the program and all the faculty of the seminary who have devoted so much time and effort to make the program the success that it is.
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That evening I went to a dinner hosted by the Brazilian Apostolate. There had been a soccer tournament to which they had invited me but, unfortunately, I was unable to come.
They had planned to honor me at the tournament, so instead dinner was held as a sort of “rematch.”
It was a wonderful evening held at a Brazilian restaurant in Marlborough.
The priests and lay leadership of the Brazilian Apostolate were present, along with the team, who presented me with a team jersey with the colors of the Brazilian flag as well as a medal.
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Finally, as we prepare to celebrate this Memorial Day, I invite you to join me in praying for all those who have given their lives in defense of our country.
I also want to share with you this video which the archdiocese has produced to celebrate the ministry of our military chaplains who serve our brave service members.
Until next week,