I want to begin this week with a couple items of note.
We were very pleased to learn today that the Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the traditional wording for the Pledge of Allegiance describing our country as “one nation under God.” There are many manifestations in our public life of the existence and the presence of God and it would be unjust to try to erase those. It is part of the tradition of our country and an expression of our religious freedom.
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Also this week we learned of plans by a Harvard University student club to sponsor a “black mass” event on their campus this coming Monday, May 12. This is very distressing news and I want to share with you the statement we released about the event:
The Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Boston expresses its deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a “black mass” on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge.
For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning Satanic worship. This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.
In a recent statement, Pope Francis warned of the danger of being naïve about or underestimating the power of Satan, whose evil is too often tragically present in our midst. We call upon all believers and people of good will to join us in prayer for those who are involved in this event, that they may come to appreciate the gravity of their actions, and in asking Harvard to disassociate itself from this activity.
In response to this misguided initiative, our parish community at St. Paul’s in Cambridge will host a Holy Hour on Monday from 8 to 9 p.m.
St. Paul’s, which is located at 29 Mt. Auburn St., hosts the Harvard Catholic Center and I am pleased that the parish and the Catholic Harvard students are reacting to this event by hosting a vigil of prayer.
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As I mentioned last week, we held our initial meeting of the Commission for the Protection of Minors from May 1-3 with the members who have been appointed up until now.
We have wonderful group of very competent professionals: Hanna Suchocka, a former Prime Minister of Poland and ambassador, who is a law professor and a very accomplished jurist; Marie Collins who is herself a victim of sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland and who has been a very eloquent spokesperson for the survivor community; Baroness Sheila Hollins, a member of the House of Lords, who is a child psychiatrist; a psychiatrist from France and expert in sexual abuse from France, Catherine Bonnet. There are also two Jesuit priests on the committee: Father Hans Zollner, head of the Institute of Psychology at the Gregorian University and the Center for the Protection of Minors and Father Humberto Miguel Yáñez, who is a moral theologian also from the Gregorian University.
One of our first tasks is to propose further membership to the Holy Father to make the group more representative of the wider Church.
Saturday morning we held a press conference in the Vatican Press Office to speak about the work of the commission, but at this point we are very much involved in trying to prioritize the issues we want to deal with and to continue on the proposals for the statutes for the group and nominations for enhanced membership.
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Sunday I returned to Boston, and on Monday I attended the annual board meeting of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, commonly known as simply the St. James Society. The current president of the Society, Father David Costello, is doing a fine job and the reports the board heard were very encouraging.
Over the last 50 years, the St. James society has sent many priests to serve in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Among those priests is Bishop Robert Hennessey, who was with us at the meeting and was a member of the St. James Society serving in Bolivia for many years. In addition to Bishop Hennessey, I believe there have been three other bishops from the United States who have been members of the St. James society: Bishop Edmond Carmody, Bishop Victor Galeone and Bishop Thomas Daley.
It is my hope that, as we become more aware of the need to have well-trained personnel to work among Hispanics, more and more bishops will consider sending men for four or five years to work with the St. James society with a view to having the benefit of their services when they return, having learned the language, culture and having had pastoral experience in Latin America.
During the meeting, I mentioned the study just released this week by Boston College on parishes with Hispanic ministry in the United States. I said the study points to the challenges and opportunities we have in serving Hispanic Catholics. In the last three years 70% of the growth in the Catholic Church has been due to the Hispanic population, yet it is underserved. Obviously, we need to recruit more and more of our ministers from that community itself but, at the same time, we also need to train our non-Hispanic priests to be able to serve the Hispanic community and to equip them, not just with linguistic knowledge, but also with an experience and appreciation for the culture that these Catholics come from.
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Tuesday morning, I attended a breakfast gathering hosted by Deacon Chuck Clough and his wife Gloria at Clough Capital Partners. As a part of Chuck and Gloria’s commitment to the success of pastoral planning, they invited several leaders of the business community to gather with me and Father Soper to learn first-hand about the goals pastoral planning as a whole. I also spoke about some of the lessons we have learned from Phase 1 of the plan and, most importantly, how they can participate either on a parish or archdiocesan level to assist the process.
In addition to being good friends, Chuck and Gloria have both been wonderful benefactors to the archdiocese and have provided key support to our work in pastoral planning. They played a pivotal role in pastoral planning, providing the support to get the work done from the inception of the plan to where we are today. In fact Chuck, along with Msgr. Bill Fay, led the Pastoral Planning Commission that worked so hard to present to me the plan that has become our pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission, which is being implemented throughout the archdiocese.
In my talk, I spoke about some of the objectives of the pastoral plan and particularly around how it relates to the new evangelization. I was also able to share some of the recent developments in the worldwide Church as well as how Disciples in Mission fits in with the Holy Father’s view of engaging the laity to be heralds of the Gospel, going out to the peripheries.
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That afternoon I stopped by to greet the pastors who were taking part in the training for Phase 2 of our Pastoral Plan Disciples in Mission here at the Pastoral Center.
I stopped by to address them and thank them for all that they are doing to serve the Church and God’s people.
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Tuesday evening, I attended Trinity Catholic Academy’s Shields Founders Award Legacy Gala held at the Shields Science Center at Stonehill College.
This year’s awardee was Jack Connors.
Trinity chair Mary Lou Jackson, Jack Connors and Tom Shields
The event was organized to thank those who helped build the 500-student elementary school in Brockton and each year, teachers, trustees, supporters and parents come together to celebrate how well the school is doing.
Trinity Catholic Academy is a great success story. There were three failing Catholic schools in Brockton and they were amalgamated into a single school with two campuses. Now, they have twice the enrollment of the three former schools put together.
And not only is enrollment up, but the school itself is flourishing. They just recently won the CYO regional basketball tournament, they have a wonderful band, the buildings have been refurbished, and the curriculum has been completely revamped. It is a great success story.
The school band, the Swinging Angels, performed for us
Many of the benefactors who made that possible were there at the gala. I was especially happy to see Tom Shields and his family and one of the especially generous supporters of the Campaign for Catholic Schools and Trinity Catholic, Jerry Sheehan, who attended with his daughter, Elizabeth.
During the dinner, several members of the Stonehill community stopped by our table and asked if they could take a “selfie” with me and I was happy to oblige.
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Wednesday I celebrated the annual Golden Jubilarian Mass at Regina Cleri, our home for retired priests.
We had nine jubilarians at the Mass
Greeting Father Paul McManus, the oldest priest in the archdiocese
It is always a very beautiful event, and I was happy with a part of it.
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That afternoon I gathered with our recently ordained for one of our ongoing formation meetings. We gathered for a holy hour in the Chapel followed by dinner and a time of dialogue.
As part of our discussion, we spoke about our new Saints Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. It was interesting to see how many of the young priests had an experience of seeing Pope John Paul II in person. Pope John XXIII is a more distant figure to them because, of course, he was only pope for a relatively short period of time many years ago but John Paul II, because of his travels and of the World Youth Days, was much more present to them.
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That evening I went to the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph for an evening of prayer and a reception for Boston priests and religious brothers.
They had done something similar to this for the Year of the Priest and this event was part of their 140th anniversary celebrations.
With President of the Sisters of St. Joseph Sister Rosemary Brennan
During the prayer service we read the following prayer 140th anniversary of the Sisters of St. Joseph:
God of Great Love, you are with us, for us, in us.
May we who share in the spirit of the Sisters of Saint Joseph
see relationship with God and others at the heart of all we do.
In every relationship may we be and act in ever-widening circles
of love poured out toward every kind of neighbor without distinction.
May we live and work with the zeal of Christ Jesus, “that all may be one.”
It was a wonderful evening and we are so grateful to Sisters of St. Joseph for their wonderful hospitality and making us all feel so welcome.
Until next week,