Hello and welcome!
As I do every year on Thanksgiving week, I am posting my blog a bit early. In the past, it has always been to allow me to spend time with my family on Thanksgiving and the days following. However, this year I will be in Rome for the consistory for the creation of six new cardinals. I’ll share the details of my trip with you next week.
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Last Thursday, I was visited by Sister Barbara Dawson, Sister Margaret Causey and Sister Barbara Rogers of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The order has about 25 sisters working in the Archdiocese. It was a courtesy visit and we spoke a little bit about the ministry of the sisters.
Sister Barbara Dawson had been in the missions in Indonesia and she came back to the states to become provincial.
The sisters of the Sacred Heart have a network of very fine girl’s schools throughout the country. Here in the Archdiocese, they run the Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. Sister Barbara Rogers is the principal there.
I told them that my aunt and cousins were very involved in their schools. In fact, my cousin was the principal of Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in Miami for a number of years.
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Later that day, I took part in an online chat on Boston.com. The Globe periodically invites people to conduct a sort of live interview, in which people send questions and you type your responses.
I was answering questions for about an hour and I understand there were about 400 people following the discussion.
This was a new experience for me — I had never been in a “chat room” before! I had my misgivings originally, but in retrospect I understand that this is something young Catholics are participating in and it is another way for us to reach them. Obviously, the newspaper has also discovered readership of broadsheets is shrinking and the Internet is the way that people are getting their news and connecting.
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Then, in the afternoon I was visited by Ed Condon to speak about the Domus Jerusalem project.
This is an effort begun at the urging of the late-Archbishop Pietro Sambi to build a Catholic center in Jerusalem next to the site of the Garden of Gethsemane and overlooking the Temple Mount. I was asked to be the president of the foundation supporting this effort.
Overlooking the planned site of the Domus Jerusalem during a visit last year
God willing, we will have a group of people interested in helping this project visit the Holy Land in the spring, coinciding with the time that I am there on the retreat with our priests.
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Saturday morning, I visited Catholic Charities’ Yawkey Center in Dorchester to help with the distribution of Thanksgiving meals.
I was there with Catholic Charities’ president Debbie Rambo and Mike Durkin, president of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and many other volunteers.
This was just one of several distribution sites in the archdiocese. At that site they gave away about 2,000 turkeys but I understand at all the different sites they gave out more than 7,000 Thanksgiving meals.
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Later that day I presided at the annual installation of new members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem Northeastern Lieutenancy of the United States.
This year the ceremony was held at St. Augustine’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island.
As the grand prior of this lieutenancy it is a privilege to install the new members of the Order.
John Monahan is Lieutenant. In all, there were about 40 people who were invested into the order.
The Order of the Holy Sepulcher has a wonderful tradition that goes back to the 13th century. They are very supportive of the Christian community and sacred places in the Holy Land and they do very important work to keep the schools, clinics and shrines running in that part of the world.
Cardinal Egan was invited to be the keynote speaker at the banquet following the Installation Mass. We were also pleased to be joined by a number of other bishops as well, including several from New England.
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Sunday, we presented our annual Cheverus Awards at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Ordinarily, we hold the Cheverus Awards celebration on the Feast of Christ the King. However, this year we moved it up one week because of the consistory.
This year, we recognized 122 people, representing nominees from one-third of the parishes and a number of agencies and ministries of the archdiocese.
In my homily, I spoke to the people a little bit about the history of the archdiocese and the wonderful ministry of Bishop Cheverus, our first bishop.
He was a missionary here in New England for about 27 years, between his time as a priest and a bishop. He did extraordinary work with the immigrant and Native American communities in Boston at the time. He won the friendship of the Protestant community and was a great force for good. He was even involved in choosing the motto of the city of Boston which comes from the book of Kings “Sicut Patribus, Sit Deus Nobis” — “May God be with us, as he was with our fathers”.
I also spoke about Bishop Cheverus’ episcopal motto, “diligamus nos invicem” — “Let us love one another” — which is engraved on the medal. I said it is a beautiful summary of what this award is about: showing our gratitude to God around this time of Thanksgiving for the wonderful volunteers and people who make such sacrifices and so faithfully serve the church. They do this out of love for Christ and love for their brothers and sisters.
Afterwards, there was a reception in the lower level of the Cathedral. It was a great joy to be able to greet many of the Cheverus Award recipients and their families.
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Monday, I visited Essex County prison to celebrate Mass and visit with the Sheriff and his staff.
With Sheriff Frank Cousins
I was very happy to be with Father Curran, a Missionhurst priest, who works there and the delightful group of volunteers.
Following the Mass, I visited the prisoners in the different cellblocks.
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Later, I was visited by the Commandant of the Swiss Guard, Daniel Anrig. He was accompanied by Andreas Widmer. He was in Boston taking some time to study English, so he paid me a visit.
As a gift, he presented me with Swiss Guard’s calendar. It contains a number of images and stories illustrating the history and day-to-day activities of this extraordinary group of men whose duty is to protect the Holy Father.
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Wednesday, I conducted an interview with Jon Keller of WBZ.
We spoke on a number of issues including our efforts to defeat the physician assisted suicide ballot initiative and the granting of in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. If you didn’t happen to catch it when it aired, you can view it here.
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In the afternoon, I met with the pro-life directors from the New England dioceses. The directors meet twice a year at the Pastoral Center to discuss current pro-life issues and share resources and information on programs they are conducting.
Several dioceses have new pro-life directors who were attending their first meeting.
I shared with them some reflections on our efforts to defeat Question 2 and its implications nationally and also for the other New England states.
During the meeting, we also bid farewell to Mark Mutty of the Maine Catholic Conference, who will be retiring next year, after more than 30 years of service to the Church in public policy affairs.
We presented Mark a gift from the group of an icon of the Good Shepherd in recognition of his faithful service.
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Our country has a wonderful custom dating back to colonial times of celebrating a day in which we give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received: the blessings of freedom, of our prosperity and all the personal blessings we have received in our families.
One of the ways that we demonstrate our gratitude to God is by sharing the gifts that we have received with others. At this time of year, there are many different groups that reach out to help people in difficult circumstances, particularly with the present economy and high unemployment rate. I am grateful to the many different organizations that work to help families on this very important day and throughout the year.
At Thanksgiving, as we consider all the wonderful blessings we have been given, we should all consider how we can share those blessings with others.
I wish you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving and safe trip to all who are travelling!
Until next week,