I want to begin this week with a note of thanks to Barbara Thorp, the director of our Office for Pastoral Support and Child Protection, who after three decades of extraordinary service to the Archdiocese of Boston is moving on. We are very sad to see her go but very grateful for the work she has done.
I first met Barbara when she was the director of the Pro-Life Office, where she was very effective. And, of course, all of her work in outreach and assistance to victims and their families has been extraordinary. I recall the wonderful help she provided at the time of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the US, facilitating the meeting between the Holy Father and survivors and, more recently, her accompanying me to Ireland during my visitation to the Archdiocese of Dublin. These were extraordinary services and we are very, very grateful for them. Our prayers and gratitude accompany her as she concludes her tenure as director of the office.
The wonderful work that Barbara Thorp has done has provided us with a solid basis and the archdiocese is firmly committed to continuing this vital mission.
Last Thursday, I went to visit the SMA Fathers in Dedham. Each year I have Mass at the SMA house accompanied by many of their young priests from Africa who come and spend the summer in Boston helping out in parishes to gain pastoral experience. I was very pleased that many of the pastors and parishioners of those parishes joined us for the Mass.
The summer visit is part of their formation process, to have an experience of working in a mission-sending country and they will go back to work in different countries in Africa. The SMA was founded for work in Africa, so they have vocations now in the Philippines, Africa, United States but all those who join do so to eventually work in Africa, the continent where the church is growing fastest.
The superior said that the Mass is held in gratitude for our receiving these priests. However, I told him it was the archdiocese that was grateful for their presence, because not only do they provide a great service in our parishes where the priests are often shorthanded and need the help of other priests, but it is also a great opportunity for the Catholics in the archdiocese to experience the catholicity of the Church and our connectedness to the wonderful work of the SMA in Africa. They have had a presence in the archdiocese for many years and Boston has always had a very strong missionary thrust. Their presence has helped to keep that awareness of the missions in people’s minds.
On Saturday, I participated in the National Congress of the Secular Order of Carmelites. It was held in Wakefield but attended by people from all over the country.
Loretta Gallagher and the other local organizers did a wonderful job.
Many of the Carmelite Friars were there, including the provincial Father John Sullivan.
Also, among the delegates at the congress was one of my former parishioners from the Virgin Islands, Rita Schuster. I was very surprised and happy to see her there.
Later that day, I joined the many people who came to attended the wake of Johnny Pesky in Lynn.
I was very touched when his son told me, “My father had your picture on the refrigerator door”! (I had forgotten a couple of years ago we had our picture taken together.)
Obviously, he made a great contribution to the community here in Boston, which has such a glorious sports tradition and a love for baseball.
He was a very important figure and a faithful Catholic. We commend him to God’s love and mercy.
Much of the rest of the week I spent at the annual summer retreat of the bishops of the New England Region at St. Edmund’s Retreat on Enders Island in Connecticut.
The Edmundites do such a great job of maintaining that beautiful oasis of spirituality that is St. Edmund’s, particularly Father Tom Hoar. They have made so many improvements there, including the beautiful chapel.
This year, we were very blessed to have Cardinal Thomas Collins lead the retreat for us. He is a Scripture scholar and I consider him to be one of our best preachers. The theme of his retreat was the Psalms, particularly the Psalms of the Divine Office. We are so grateful for his generosity and taking the time to join us. It was a very beautiful retreat and all of the bishops were just thrilled with his presence there.
- Cardinal Seán