Hello and welcome!
On Saturday, on my way back from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meeting in New Orleans I made a stopover in Chicago to celebrate the wedding of the son of my long-time friends, Dan and Pat Cheely. They have a beautiful, faith-filled family and I have had the joy of celebrating the Baptism, First Communion and/ or marriage of several of their eight children. This was the wedding of their son, Tommy, who works for the satellite Catholic radio network Relevant Radio, to Catherine Egan, who is a nurse.
It was a very beautiful wedding, and of the many young people who were there are very engaged in the life of the Church.
I got to know Dan about 40 years ago through my friend Javier Suarez, whom I have known since I was a young priest. Dan was Javier’s roommate at Harvard Law School. Together, they founded the Harvard Law School Students for Life and used to stay at the Centro Catolico when they came to Washington for the March for life and other events.
As Tommy was driving me to the church for the wedding, I was telling him about some of my memories of his family. I told him I still remember very well one day that I was in Rome and I was going to give First Communion to one of his siblings. The family — they had five children at the time — were coming to meet me, walking across St. Peter’s Square, when their father just spontaneously began to pray the Creed and I was very touched by that. Then, when we got to the door of St. Peter’s, the Swiss Guard stopped us because Pat had a short-sleeve shirt on and he wouldn’t let her in. Then he saw that she was pregnant — with twins. (Tommy was one of them.) He had mercy on her and let her in!
Also, before I departed for the USCCB meeting, Joe McEnness, our Executive Director of Parish Services and Risk Management for the, hosted Michael Bemi and Pat Neal at the Pastoral Center for a presentation on the Virtus and Protecting God’s Children programs.
We are proud that our parishes, schools and institutions are recognized for their achievement in maintain safe environments for children by implementing the best practices as developed by skilled professionals. Michael and Pat also shared with me that Virtus is extending its programs and services to Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. It is good to know of this outreach, in order that children and families throughout the world can be active participants in the life of the Church knowing that they are protected from harm. I look forward to learning more about the ongoing development of the Virtus programs.
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Sunday morning I went to celebrate Mass at the Cranberry Catholic Collaborative of Sts. Martha and Mary in Lakeville, Sacred Heart in Middleborough and St. Rose of Lima in Rochester.
We celebrated the Mass at Sacred Heart Church. The pastor, Father John Sheridan; the vicar, Father Mark Derrane; and the former pastor, Father Richard Crowley concelebrated with us. They had the choirs of the three different parishes together, and it was just extraordinary.
After the Mass, we blessed one of the buildings at Sacred Heart that they have just refurbished to be offices and a center for evangelization that they are calling St. Joseph House.
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Monday I was visited by Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. He was in town and came for a visit.
The Church needs to have a voice in the international community and the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to United Nations plays a crucial role in presenting the Church’ view on human rights and the gospel of life.
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Also that day I was visited by a number of representatives of the group Physicians for Social Responsibility.
This group advocates on many issues that affect people’s health and well-being but they came to speak to me about their efforts to promote nuclear disarmament with particular attention to the nations other than those we traditionally think of as the nuclear superpowers.
They have done a great deal of research and, according to their findings, if there were even a very limited nuclear exchange, it would cause climate changes that would result in the starvation of many millions of people because there is a very large segment of the population of the world that is just marginally able to meet their nutritional needs.
Apparently, these blasts put so much debris into the atmosphere that it would lower the temperature of the whole planet considerably. Some places would have frost constantly so that there would be no growing season at all and it could have a huge impact on world agriculture. So, besides the terrible destruction visited on those hit by the bomb itself, the aftereffect would impact an even larger portion of the population of the planet.
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Tuesday, I went to spend the day with our seminarians who are on retreat in Maine.
Ordinarily, we hold our beginning of the summer retreat for our seminarians down at the Sacred Hearts Retreat Center in Wareham. This year, however, there was a scheduling problem so Father Dan Hennessey arranged for them to go to St. Anthony’s Friary in Kennebunkport, Maine.
I had never been to the house before and I was very impressed. It is a very nice facility that has wonderful grounds with beautiful outdoor altars.
The Franciscans who run the friary are Lithuanian. So, throughout the monastery there are many artistic manifestations of their Lithuanian culture. For example, on the right is a stained glass window of St. Casimir, the Patron Saint of Lithuania.
During my visit there I gave a conference to the men, celebrated Mass for them and then we had a question and answer session.
They seemed to be having a good retreat experience and I was glad I was able to spend the day with them.
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Finally, I want to conclude mentioning that this weekend at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross we will be hosting a relic of St. Pope John Paul II thanks to the generous support of the Knights of Columbus.
Saturday at 3 p.m. there will be a Holy Hour and Divine Mercy Chaplet followed by 4:30 p.m. Mass and then veneration of the relic in the Lower Church. Sunday, there will be veneration of the relic following the 11:30 a.m. Mass at which we will honor those couples celebrating wedding anniversaries.
I encourage you all to join us.
Until next week,