As I mentioned last week, on Holy Thursday we went to have dinner with the retired priests at Regina Cleri.
It was an opportunity to congratulate them on the feast day of the priesthood and visit some of the sick priests there as well.
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From the dinner, I went to the Cathedral for a bilingual celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
After the Mass, the Eucharist is brought to an altar of repose where people may come for a Eucharistic Vigil. As always, there was a very large contingent there from the local colleges, including many from Boston University.
We ended the vigil at midnight with prayers and compline.
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On the morning of Good Friday, two different groups making the Way of the Cross made a stop at the Cathedral, the Way of the Cross for Life and the group from Communion and Liberation. Both were very large groups.
Those participating in the Pro-Life Way of the Cross offer their stations on behalf of life and the unborn. They always end at the Cathedral, where I pray the last stations with them and they consecrate themselves to the Blessed Mother. Each year, I conclude the consecration by blessing them with the relic of the True Cross.
Immediately after that, I met with the group from Communion and Liberation, where I gave them a meditation on one of the stations.
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Then, later in the day, we had the regular Good Friday services at the Cathedral. I presided and Bishop Hennessey was the homilist at the 3 p.m. liturgy in English and I presided and preached at the 7 p.m. liturgy in Spanish.
The evening service in Spanish was followed by a reenactment of the Stations of the Cross throughout the neighborhood of the South End around the Cathedral. Sister Belinda and her committee did a wonderful job of preparing it, with all the costumes and even reenacting the crucifixion inside the Cathedral.
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On Holy Saturday, I went for lunch with the Memores Domini, consecrated laymen of the Communion and Liberation movement. It was very nice to be with them and a chance to see their new residence in Cambridge.
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In the late afternoon I celebrated a rite in the lower church of the Cathedral for those from the Archdiocese of Boston who have completed the stages of the Neocatechumenal Way this year.
The Neocatechumenate is, in many ways, similar to the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. However, the Neocatechumenate is mainly intended for those who are already baptized, providing them with formation to rediscover the full meaning of their baptism and come to a mature faith. Also, rather than lasting only a few weeks, as the RCIA does, completing all the stages of the Neocatechumenal Way takes many years. Many of those at the rite on Saturday have been participating in the Neocatechumenate for between 20 and 30 years.
When a group finishes the stages of the Neocatechumenal way, they receive from their bishop a white garment, recalling the baptismal gowns they received as infants.
Then, after the rite of receiving the white garment, they attend the Easter Vigil to join us as we renew our baptismal promises.
I was also very happy to welcome a group from the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut for the rite because there has not been a new bishop appointed there since the departure of Archbishop Lori.
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At 8 p.m., we began the celebration of the Easter Vigil with the Blessing of the Fire. I always like to be able to do the blessing outside because it is a great sign, not only to those attending the vigil, but also to the whole neighborhood.
Though the Easter Vigil is always a very beautiful liturgy with many inspiring aspects, one of the particular highlights for me is to be able to welcome those who are becoming new members of our Church. This year I was very pleased to be able to celebrate a number of adult baptisms and confirmations.
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On Easter morning, I celebrated the television Mass and then the 11:30 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral, which was standing room only. We were thrilled to have such a wonderful response.
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On Tuesday I welcomed Sheriff Peter Koutoujian to the Cathedral. Regular readers will remember that I visited and celebrated Mass at the jail in Cambridge a few months ago and we wanted to present the sheriff with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the chapel there.
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On Wednesday, I attended the New England Province of Jesuits Gala to support their retired priests and their formation programs. We have over 300 Jesuits here in Boston. It is a very large and important presence and the people have responded very generously to the needs of the province.
At the gala, the New England Province presented the Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam Award to John and Rose Mahoney for their support of many local arts and civic activities as well as many important works of the Jesuits including a monthly prayer breakfast for business leaders, Ignatian Conversations for Women, and the Jesuit Connection program for young adults.
New England Provincial Father Myles Sheehan presenting the award to the Mahoneys
The Mahoney’s also have a brother, Tom Mahoney, who is a diocesan priest and is the pastor at St. Joseph’s in Belmont.
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Wednesday, I attended the annual board meeting of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs. The work of the Planning Office in creating housing for the homeless and low to moderate income families is a wonderful ministry of the archdiocese. We are so fortunate to have Lisa Alberghini and her excellent staff doing this for us. A constant reminder for me of the good work that they do is the Rollins Square development, which is less than a block away from the Cathedral in the South End.
I always enjoy the meetings because it is an opportunity for me look at the recent projects that they have undertaken to hear what is being planned. They have just completed a project in conjunction with the Pine Street Inn for the homeless there and we are now working on a project with St. Francis House.
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Then, on Wednesday evening, I went to Immaculate Conception in Revere to give a blessing to the groups of the Neocatechumenal Way who, as a part of the Year of Faith, will be doing public missions at different places on Sundays during the Easter season. This is being done in a number of dioceses throughout the world.
I am very pleased this is being done during Eastertime because I feel that we become so focused on Lent, that the Easter season is often sorely neglected. In fact, however, the Easter Season is important for us because these are the days during which Christ really establishes the Church by teaching us the new way that he is going to be present to us through the sacraments, the community and his word and promises to send the Holy Spirit.
It is a wonderful time to be evangelizing and I am grateful for all the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way who will be supporting the teams that will be undertaking these missions throughout the archdiocese.
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On Thursday morning, I was happy to celebrate the Eucharist in the Lower Chapel of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for about 125 friends who are supporters of the Catholic Appeal, the Campaign for Catholic Schools, and Catholic Charities.
Father Antonio Nardoianni, the pastor of St. Leonard’s in the North End, concelebrated with me.
After Mass, I greeted guests over breakfast and made a few remarks about the Conclave and our newly-elected Pope Francis. Everyone was very interested to learn more about the process, my impressions of the new Holy Father, and what his papacy may be like for our Church. As I have written previously, I believe Pope Francis’s commitment to the social gospel of the Church will be a central theme moving forward.
There were good questions from the audience and I was gratified by their response when I said I was happy to be back in Boston. I am grateful to these benefactors who attended, and to everyone whose generosity supports our efforts to strengthen the Archdiocese of Boston.
Among those at the Mass were Terry and Susan Ragon who later in the day invited me to tour facility that they support in Cambridge that is conducting research on the human immune system with the goal of finding a cure for HIV/AIDS.