Hello and welcome!
I want to begin my post this week with the wonderful news that today in Rome, Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, announced that our Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Msgr. Robert Deeley, has been named an Auxiliary Bishop of Boston. We had a press conference earlier today to make the news public.
Before the press conference, we gathered with the cabinet and auxiliary bishops to present him with the pectoral cross and zucchetto, two of the symbols of the office of bishop.
As I told the people, I am most grateful to the Holy Father, who has consistently shown a Father’s love for the people of this Archdiocese. He recognizes in Bishop-elect Deeley the many fine gifts that he has demonstrated in his nearly 40 years of priesthood.
Back in 2004, when then-Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and was looking for a very good canon lawyer to assist in the work of his office, I was reluctant to let Msgr. Deeley go — afraid that we would never get him back! Our Holy Father allowed our Bishop-elect to return home last year, and he has been a blessing to me and to this Archdiocese, which he will continue to serve as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.
Following the press conference, we gathered for daily Mass in the Pastoral Center chapel.
Bishop-elect Deeley gave the homily and he said that he is going to have to start giving longer homilies because, in his experience, bishops need to preach for at least a half an hour.
I told the people before the final blessing that this will be very good because the role of the auxiliary bishops is to make the archbishop look good and now my homilies will seem short by comparison!
After the Mass, we had a light reception for the staff and all those who had come to Pastoral Center for the announcement.
We congratulate Bishop-elect Deeley on this wonderful occasion and look forward to his episcopal ordination on Jan. 4.
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Also, this past Tuesday was, of course, Election Day. Our local polling place here is just across the street at Cathedral High School. When I looked out in the morning and saw the lines stretching around the block, I was very encouraged to see how seriously people were taking their obligation to vote this year.
Of course, I was very gratified by the presence of a large number of people at the polls calling for a no vote on Question 2 that would have legalized physician assisted suicide in our state. I went to shake their hands, and they had been standing out there so long their hands felt like icicles. I was very moved by their dedication and commitment to the Gospel of Life.
I know that at many polling places throughout the archdiocese parishioners and Knights of Columbus were out witnessing to their faith. Someone at the Pastoral Center even told me that their teenage daughter was out all day and Facebooking about this with her friends. What a beautiful witness this was to peoples’ faith and commitment.
Thanks to the hard work of so many people in the four dioceses of Massachusetts working in conjunction with other groups — disabilities groups, medical associations, hospice and palliative care groups — we were able to stop this terrible assault on human life. At the same time, this calls us to become more focused on the fact that we must do more to promote good palliative and hospice care.
The last time we faced this issue in Massachusetts, I was Bishop of Fall River. We were able to defeat it in the legislature but, afterward, I called my staff together and we came up with ideas of what to do going forward. So, we initiated Alzheimer’s units in all the nursing homes of the diocese. We also brought in pain management experts and all our nursing homes became pain-management certified.
Those are the kinds of things that we need to do here in the Archdiocese of Boston and throughout the Commonwealth. Just as in our struggle against abortion, it is not enough simply to condemn abortion, but we need to help to take care of the women whose lives are in turmoil because of a pregnancy. In the same way, we need to reach out to those facing difficulties at the end of life.
Perhaps the best thing about the defeat of Question 2 was the unity it fostered among those allied against it. Just a few months ago, the polls indicated that two thirds of the electorate were ready to support this question. Our ability to educate the public about some of the implications of this law and to reinforce the catechesis of our Catholic people about end-of-life issues was able to turn this around. I am so glad that so many people across a huge spectrum of political thought and ideologies were able to come together and agree on opposing this ballot question. One of the things that is tearing our society apart is that we no longer have values that people agree on. At least in this case, I think we are working towards helping people to agree on the values involved in this issue.
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Now on to the events of my week:
Each year, Mary Grassa O’Neil and the Catholic Schools Office bring together pastors and principals for a Catholic Schools Convocation to discuss timely issues and to give them the most recent analysis of what is happening in Catholic schools. This year the convocation was held on All Saints Day.
Students from Blessed John Paul II Catholic Academy performed for us to open the day
The keynote speaker was Father William Leahy, president of Boston College. He spoke about his vision for the mission and leadership of Catholic Schools.
He gave a very strong endorsement and encouragement to our Catholic schools.
Also during the gathering, they recognize the schools that have had significant anniversaries in the past year.
St. Patrick’s School in Roxbury was celebrating its 150th anniversary.
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On Friday, I attended the wake of Bishop Christopher Coyne’s father, William, which was at his family’s parish in Woburn where his mother, Rita, had been secretary for many years.
I had the opportunity to say a prayer for Mr. Coyne and tender my condolences to Bishop Chris’s mother and his brothers and sisters.
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In the evening I went to a reception at the Algonquin Club, which was the annual fundraiser for The Newman School.
This is an independent school, but the Catholic faith and the philosophy of Cardinal John Henry Newman is a very important part of who they are.
During the evening, they honored Edward D’Alelio.
Ed D’Alelio is an alumnus, board member and supporter of the school. He is also very active in the community. In giving the award, they talked about Cardinal Newman’s definition of the gentlemen, which they read.
I joined headmaster Harry Lynch in presenting the award.
The students sang for us. They had a wonderful choir.
The Algonquin club is a beautiful venue for something like that – a beautiful old Boston establishment.
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On Saturday, I celebrated a Mass at the Pastoral Center for the admission to candidacy for permanent deacons.
The celebration of candidacy is an opportunity to remind people of the seriousness of their preparation and their commitment to prepare themselves spiritually and intellectually for ordination. Of course, it is also an opportunity to be with the candidates and their families.
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In the afternoon I went to St. Joseph’s in Boston’s West End to celebrate the parish’s 150th anniversary. Being a city parish, it was very encouraging to see the church filled with so many young families.
St. Joseph’s was originally built as a Protestant Church in the 1830s but, by the 1860s the neighborhood’s composition had changed and the building was sold to Bishop Fitzpatrick.
It is a very old and beautiful church with beautiful architecture. In fact the architect, Alexander Parris, also designed Quincy Market.
You can certainly see the resemblance
Of course, the visit was also an opportunity to thank Father Dan O’Connell who is taking a new assignment after several years as pastor there. He has done a wonderful job and the people there love him very much.
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Then, that evening, I attended the Bishop Healey Award Dinner sponsored by the Office of Black Catholics. As always, it was a wonderful celebration of the gifts and the contributions of Black Catholics to the life of our Church. I congratulated them for choosing — perhaps accidentally —the feast of St. Martin de Porres for the celebration.
There were two honorees during the evening.
The Ruffin Award was given to Beth Chambers
Healey Award was given to Anthony Owens
The Black Catholic Choir sang a number of songs.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Boston University law professor Maria O’Brien Hylton, gave a very interesting talk. She spoke about her experience with the Sisters of Providence, the order of black sisters founded by Mother Lang. She gave a wonderful witness talk about the impact of the sisters and the work that they do. Afterward, I told her that some of the sisters had worked with me in Washington.
There was a wonderful attendance at the dinner. It was great to see so many people there supporting the work and mission of the Office of Black Catholics.
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Monday morning, I made a quick trip down to Washington to celebrate the funeral Mass of Dr. Rafael Madan. I have always been very close to him and his family. He was a member of the Agrupación Católica Universitaria that I belong to and he helped me to set up a dental clinic at the Centro Catolico, even doing the carpentry work. He was a man who gave so much to helping out in the missions serving the poor in the area of Washington and Virginia. He was a great pillar of the Church.
It was very moving to be there with his family — people that I had baptized and married — and members of the Agrupación Católica.
His eldest son, Rafael, offered a few words of remembrance at the end of the Mass. We sang the hymn of the Agrupación.
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By that evening, I was back in Boston to attend the fundraiser for St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children in Dorchester.
Rev. Liz Walker was the evening’s host and she did a wonderful job. They do outstanding work with young women, in helping people out of homelessness, and finding people jobs and training them — really being a great source of hope for many single-parent families who face just overwhelming odds and challenges.
There were a couple of wonderful testimonies by women who have been helped by the program. Judy Beckler and the staff there do extraordinary work changing people’s lives in giving them hope.
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After voting Tuesday morning, I visited Plymouth County jail. There I celebrated two baptisms and confirmations and also celebrated Mass with the prisoners. The Sheriff, superintendent, and staff were all very welcoming to us. The Deacon, Joseph Sullivan, prepared the men who were received into the Church. They had a wonderful choir and great group of volunteers. A number of deacons were there and Father Carmichael who says Mass there regularly.
Until next week,