On Wednesday I was pleased to meet with Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, our head of Prison Ministries Deacon Jim Greer and a number of officials from the Sheriff’s Office here at the Pastoral Center.
We had a discussion about prison ministries and how the archdiocese might collaborate even more with the Sheriff’s Office in the pastoral work that is done there as well as the other auxiliary services for prisoners and their families.
That day, I also met with our new Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelization Bishop Arthur Kennedy and his assistant Michael Lavigne, who is an expert in the new evangelization. He has a great deal of experience in parish-based programs and we are very happy to have him on board.
In the evening I attended the St. John Vianney Gathering at St. John’s Seminary. At 5 o’clock we had a conference for the priests given by Father Myles Sheehan on the subject of physician assisted suicide. Father Sheehan is the provincial of the New England Province of Jesuits and he is also a physician, a gerontologist. He gave an excellent presentation attended by about 50 priests.
Over 100 priests came for the Vespers and the barbecue dinner, which we have every year around the Feast of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests.
On Saturday, the Vocations Office sponsored a day of reflection for Hispanic candidates at St. Stephen’s Church in Framingham. I was happy to join them for Mass and lunch. Father Dan Hennessey, Father Gabino Macias and Father Paco Anzoategui organized the day’s program and Father Felipe Gonzalez also gave a presentation.
I took a couple pictures of Father Al Stankard’s paintings.
This one is a representation of the Church. If you look carefully, you can see he has included me standing next to the Pope off to the side.
This is another painting he did of the martyrdom of St. Stephen.
Sunday, I went to Most Holy Redeemer Parish in East Boston for the blessing of the statue of Cristo Divino Salvador Del Mundo, which is the patron saint of El Salvador.
I was very pleased to be joined by the pastor, Father Tom Domurat, Father Al Keenan, the Consul General of El Salvador José Edgardo Alemán Molina, and Vice Consul Ena Ursula Peña.
There were so many people in attendance; they couldn’t fit into the church. It was just a huge crowd!
They celebrate this feast day on the Feast of the Transfiguration, which would have been Monday. So, in the parish they had the celebration the Sunday with the blessing of the statue.
This is a feast day I used to celebrate at my parish in Washington, where we had a large number of parishioners from El Salvador.
In my reflections to the Salvadoran people, I said it is very fitting that the Transfiguration be the feast of their country because the Transfiguration of Christ allowed Peter, James and John to glimpse Christ’s glory and his divinity, so that they could be strengthened in the face of the scandal of the Cross. El Salvador is a country that needs to glimpse God’s loving presence and his glory because it is a country which has suffered so much in its history, with wars and the terrible challenges. It is their faith in Christ that has given them strength to face the cross with the courage and the grace that they have.
As our Salvadoran community has grown so much, particularly in East Boston, I am delighted that the parish is promoting this traditional devotion, which is a great source of spiritual strength.
Then later that afternoon I was very pleased to preside at the wedding of Andres Enrique and Maria Grazia Grieci at Our Lady the Assumption Parish, also in East Boston.
Andres is the third child of Antonio and Reyes Enrique. Antonio is the editor of The Pilot, our diocesan newspaper.
Msgr. Alejandro Cifres, who is Reyes’ brother and who works at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith in Rome, came to the wedding.
With Msgr. Cifres, Carmela –Reyes’ mother– Reyes and Antonio
This year the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus was held in Anaheim, California.
We arrived Monday night and we were there Tuesday for the Opening Mass celebrated by Bishop Tod Brown, the Bishop of Orange, California.
Afterwards, we attended the opening meeting where we were given the report of the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson.
It is always very uplifting and encouraging to see the dedication, fidelity and resources that are put forth for the mission of the Church by the Knights of Columbus.
In the evening, was the States Dinner at which Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave the keynote address. He spoke about the vocation of marriage.
Wednesday afternoon, after the last session, Bishop Brown invited us for a tour of the Crystal Cathedral, which the Diocese of Orange is acquiring to make it its own cathedral. It was recently announced that it will be renamed Christ Cathedral.
About 40 bishops took the tour, and it was just fascinating.
Before the visit, I did not know much about the history of this facility though, of course, I had heard much about Rev. Robert Schuller and his ministries.
Rev. Schuller began his ministry preaching Sunday mornings in a drive-in theater where people came to listen to his sermons in their cars. (It doesn’t get much more American than that; we Americans have such a love for our automobiles!) But out of those humble beginnings, he developed his ministry that was centered at the Crystal Cathedral. His “Hour of Power” was one of the longest running television programs in history.
The facility has 37 acres with seven magnificent buildings plus beautifully landscaped grounds. They have one of the largest organs in the world, a theater, a restaurant, a number of chapels, classrooms, auditoriums, meeting rooms and libraries, as well as television and radio studios, and plenty of parking! There is going to be a Catholic school there; and the chancery of the diocese and the local parish will also relocate to that site.
The tour also included several interesting details about the building’s unique design. For example, despite being in a warm part of country, the building has no air conditioning. However, in the way it was built, the windows open automatically in different places in such a way as to cool the building.
Part of that system are these nearly 100-foot doors that open and close.
It was also interesting to learn that when he had the plans drawn up for the Crystal Cathedral, Rev. Schuller took them to Blessed John Paul II and asked for the pope’s blessing.
Of course, the Diocese of Orange plans to make renovations. On the outside it will appear very much the same, but the interior will be renovated to make it look more like a Catholic Church. When it opens, it will probably be the largest Cathedral in the country.
I do think that this is a great grace for the Church. It has the potential of becoming an extraordinary center for evangelization in California and also international outreach, because Crystal Cathedral was so well known. Also, because of its proximity to Disneyland, it has the potential to draw visitors from all over the world.
This will surely be a great blessing for the Church and for evangelization going forward.
Until next week,