Hello and welcome,
For us as Catholics, the celebration of the Eucharist is the most sacred event in our life as an ecclesial community. It is where Christ makes a gift of himself to us, where he gathers us as his people, where he feeds us with the word of life and with his Body and Blood. The whole meaning of Eucharist is one of love, sacrifice and unity.
A ‘black mass’ is a sacrilegious parody of the Eucharistic celebration. It is a negation of all of the ideals that are signified by the Eucharist. It is for this reason that the Catholic community was so disturbed by the announcement that a student group at Harvard was going to sponsor a black mass in one of their most venerable buildings, Memorial Hall.
We are very gratified by the response, both from within the Church and without. Over 90,000 Harvard students, alumni and others associated with Harvard signed a petition decrying the black mass. There was a great outpouring of support for the Holy Hour held at St. Paul’s and the Eucharistic procession that was organized between MIT, St. Paul Parish and the Harvard Catholic Center.
The huge crowds that participated in the procession and Holy Hour were a great sign of hope to all of us that the Catholic people cherish the treasure of the Eucharist, and that we would not passively ignore the outrageous assault on our faith represented by a black mass celebrated in the heart of one of the most venerable American institutions and premier universities.
We were pleased that Harvard President Dr. Drew Faust attended the Holy Hour at St. Paul’s. I think it was important for her to see the reaction of the Catholic Church gathered in prayer as a response to this threat to our beliefs.
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Now on to the events of my week…
Last Thursday we hosted a gathering of the major superiors of men’s religious communities in the archdiocese here at the Pastoral Center. We are very blessed by the presence of a number of different men’s communities, each with their own charism and spirituality, that contribute to so many different areas of the life of parishes, schools and other ministries.
We had a very nice lunch and discussion. We were able to discuss with them the archdiocese’s efforts around pastoral planning, the Church’s position on immigration reform and the upcoming Year for Consecrated Life.
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That evening, we celebrated the Catholic Schools Foundation Scholars Mass at the Cathedral.
In recent years we have been celebrating this Mass at the Cathedral. Each year, the number of people attending grows and this year the Cathedral was almost filled.
Each child was given a pin and Mary Moran, our acting superintendent of schools and Mike Reardon from the Catholic Schools Foundation both addressed the young people, congratulating them on their fine work.
Afterwards we had some light refreshments next door in the gym at Cathedral High. Mike Reardon and I had a chance to greet some of the students and their families.
We are so grateful to many benefactors who support the Catholic Schools Foundation, which in turn provides scholarships for so many students throughout the archdiocese.
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Friday I had lunch with the group of seminarians from Vietnam who are studying in St. John’s Seminary but will be ordained for their own dioceses.
In Vietnam, the government strictly controls the number of men who are allowed to enter the seminary in any given year. Because of that, a couple of the bishops of Vietnam asked me to train some of their priests here.
So for the last seven years we have had this group of wonderful seminarians here and they wanted to express their gratitude to the archdiocese by organizing a Vietnamese lunch for me. They gave me a beautiful icon.
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Friday night I attended the 10th annual gala fundraiser for the Oblates the Virgin Mary.
We are very grateful for their presence in the archdiocese. They do so much at St. Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine, the Prudential Center Chapel and at their retreat house in Milton. We are also happy to have their seminarians studying with our men at St. John’s.
There has been a long and important relationship with the community and I was very happy to be a part of the gala to support their ministry.
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Sunday I went to St. Matthias in Marlborough to join them for the celebration of the parish’s 50th anniversary.
It was a beautiful celebration. They have a wonderful choir. Father O’Brien has done a very good job there. I told them that many of the people who were there for the Mass had been there at the foundation of the Church, as well.
It was Mother’s Day and, as I told the people, it was not only the 50th anniversary of their parish but also the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day was advocated by a woman named Anna Jarvis who wanted to honor her mother, Anne Reeves Jarvis. Anne was a woman from West Virginia who, during the Civil War, took care of wounded soldiers from both the North and the South. She was a woman of great faith, a very devout Methodist, and was a very socially conscious person who worked for peace and reconciliation in the country. She died in Philadelphia, and a few years after her death, in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson decreed that the second Sunday of the month of May would be Mother’s Day. I was very edified to see how many countries followed suit. There are dozens of countries that have adopted the custom of celebrating Mother’s Day.
I said we were offering the Mass for all mothers — adoptive mothers, grandmothers and also for the birth mothers who make a very generous sacrifice of entrusting their children to another family so the child can live and be raised in a loving home.
I also commented that the reading from the Acts of the Apostles was sort of a Pentecost reading. I also said that the vocation of Matthias, whose feast day we celebrated this week, was born out of the crisis of the Church at that moment and his vocation came out of the prayer of the community at Pentecost. This was a sign of a new beginning for the Church and renewal, as he was taking the place of Judas. So, I told them, their parish’s patron is a sign of that renewal, that God in his love gives a second chance to his people.
At a parish anniversary celebration, we not only thank God for the history he has made, but it is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the mission of the Church going forward.
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From St. Matthias I went to St. Adelaide’s in Peabody to celebrate confirmations in the Extraordinary Form for about 35 young people. Confirmation in the Tridentine Rite is celebrated outside of Mass so we had it with benediction.
The choir was extraordinary and it was truly a very beautiful celebration.
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On Monday, I went to Catholic Charities Teen Center at St. Peter’s in Dorchester for the dedication of a bench in honor of former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The dedication was a way of thanking Mayor Menino for all the support he gave to the Youth Center and the community during his long tenure as Mayor of Boston.
We heard remarks by Father Jack Ahern, Catholic Charities President Debbie Rambo and Teen Center director Paulo De Barros.
After I led us in prayer we also heard from Mayor Menino himself.
Also joining us at the dedication were a number of volunteers from the pastoral center who were at St. Peter’s Parish working to fix up the parish as part of our Employee Parish Service Week.
So, after the dedication I went over to the parish to see how the work was going.
During my visit with the workers I had an opportunity to get acquainted with an electric screwdriver for the first time.
I discovered I am much more adept at the manual variety!
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Tuesday was the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.
It is one of the largest Catholic events that takes place throughout the year in Washington. There were about 800 people there. I was very pleased to see Carl Anderson and his wife Dorian, as well as many other good friends.
Doctor Robert George and myself were both asked to speak at the prayer breakfast. You can read the text of my remarks here.
The Dominican sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist sang for us very beautifully.
It was the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima but for their community, it was Feast of Our Lady, Mother of the Eucharist so it was their patronal feast. Cardinal Wuerl gave the invocation and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, gave the closing blessing.
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Each year at the Pastoral Center we hold a May crowning ceremony.
Wednesday those who participated at the noon mass had an opportunity to join the ceremony. at the beautiful statue of Our Lady outside of the Pastoral Center.
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That afternoon, I met with the major superiors of women religious in the archdiocese. There are 80 different communities of women religious in the archdiocese, many of whom were represented in our luncheon meeting. We had an agenda very similar to that of the gathering of major superiors of men.
Sister Pat Boyle gave a very beautiful presentation about what is happening in the parishes with pastoral planning. We showed, once again, the short film that the CatholicTV Network produced on immigration.
After we presented it to the sisters, we talked about what many of the religious committees are doing around the issues of immigrants and refugees, and we spoke about the importance of education around immigration themes. There was quite a bit of discussion about ways to prepare for the year for consecrated life. Certainly, we were asking for their ideas and suggestions, not just for celebratory events, but also activities that can help to showcase consecrated life for our young Catholics, who in many cases do not have much experience of consecrated life.
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Wednesday, Bishop Andrew Nkea of the diocese of Mamfe, Cameroon came to visit me at the cathedral.
He was accompanied by Father Maurice Ashley who is a priest of his diocese who is studying here and has begun saying Mass once a month in Salem for the Cameroonian community in the archdiocese. We were also joined by Father Michael Harrington the director of our Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity.
His is a very young diocese and this is his first visit to the States, visiting some of his priests and people here. The community is English-speaking, although there is also a Francophone part of Cameroon, but the bishop is from the English-speaking part of the country.
It was nice to get to meet Bishop Nkea and learn a little about him and his diocese. He was ordained last year on August 29, the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist —so I felt an immediate connection with him!
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Wednesday night I went to Immaculate Conception in Everett for the Mass and graduation ceremony of the Instituto de Formación de Laicos, which is the Spanish-language lay formation program of our Religious Education Office.
There were 34 graduates of the program, coming from 13 different parishes in the archdiocese. Thirteen priests concelebrated at the Mass and there were also 3 deacons were with us, as well as a good number alumni in attendance.
They presented me with the stole I am wearing in this photo. It was made in Mexico by an indigenous community. They said it was in appreciation for my efforts on immigration reform, particularly my recent visit to the border in Arizona.
I am very grateful to the graduates who spent so many months to complete this two-year program, preparing themselves for parish ministry. We are also grateful to Pilar Latorre and all the professors who work so hard to make the program the success it is.
Until next week,