Hello and welcome!
Last Friday, I visited the house of the Missionaries of Charity in Dorchester. The date was August 22 which, at Mother Teresa’s request, for the Sisters is still the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the normal calendar the feast has been moved to the second Saturday after Pentecost, so some have described it as a heart transplant! The Sisters renew their vows on this feast day and the Sisters of New Bedford also joined the Boston Sisters for the occasion.
It is a beautiful feast day and there has been a long tradition in the Church of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It particularly became widely extended through the popular apparitions of St. Catherine Labouré at the Chapel Rue du Bac and the Miraculous Medal, because the back of the Miraculous Medal has a depiction of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the apparitions in Fatima, the Blessed Mother also encouraged devotion to her Immaculate Heart.
As I reflected in my homily, three of the five Joyful Mysteries of the rosary have references to Mary’s heart: at the Nativity, Mary is pondering these events in her heart; at the Presentation, Simeon predicts that Mary’s heart will be pierced by a sword; and in the fifth mystery, the Finding in the Temple, (which was the Gospel reading for the feast), Mary is once again pondering these events in her heart. The sisters concluded the liturgy of the word by renewing their consecrations.
We are so blessed to have the presence of Mother Teresa’s community here. They do wonderful work and are a presence of God’s love and mercy in our midst.
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Saturday, I went to Pittsburgh to be present at the solemn profession of three Capuchin friars: Roshan Anthonypillai, John Paul Kuzma and Rafael Anguiano-Rodriguez.
I was very happy that my schedule allowed me to be able to attend both the simple profession and the solemn profession this year. The simple profession, which I mentioned in July, is for men who just finished their novitiate and take vows for three years. These men are taking perpetual vows.
The solemn profession takes place in St. Augustine’s Church in Pittsburgh, which is the church where I was professed and also where I was ordained, so it is filled with great memories.
The church itself is very beautiful. It is a replica of a parish church in Munich, and was built over 100 years ago for the German immigrants in Pittsburgh.
One of the saints that is very visible in the pictures of the main altar is St. Lawrence, because the name of that section of Pittsburgh is Lawrenceville, named after Lawrence Foster, who was father of the famous songwriter Stephen Foster.
It was a very joyous event and I was very happy that so many of our Capuchins were able to attend and celebrate the occasion with us.
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Sunday, I was back in Boston and celebrated the 9:30 Mass at the Cathedral. At that Mass there was a couple who had been parishioners of mine for many years when I was in Washington, Edwin and Ofelia Sommarriba.
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Monday, Joan and Ned Desmond were visiting relatives on the Cape and came for dinner at the Cathedral. Joan has had a long association with the National Catholic Register, which was founded by her family many years ago and, of course, she continues to contribute to the Register today.
I have known them for over 30 years so it was a nice opportunity to see them and catch up.
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On Tuesday, I presided at the Mass at the Fall River Cathedral for Bishop George Coleman, celebrating his 50 years of priesthood and his 11 years as Bishop of Fall River.
Bishop Coleman will be retiring next month so, in many ways, it was an opportunity for the diocese to honor and thank him for his service to God’s people. It was a very beautiful tribute that included a wonderful musical program with choirs from the Cathedral and Holy Name parish.
There was also a very large number of priests. I would say that half the Cathedral was filled with clergy.
Among the bishops present were Bishop Walter Edyvean, who was a classmate of Bishop Coleman, as well as Archbishop Cronin, a former Bishop of Fall River.
In my remarks after Communion, I told Bishop Coleman that Bishop Cronin and myself will soon be welcoming him into a very exclusive club – that of the former Bishops of Fall River!
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This being the last week of August, everything seems to be starting up again, including the seminaries. So, this week I have opening Masses at all three of our seminaries. The first was at St. John’s Seminary on Wednesday, which happened to be the Feast of St. Monica. Afterwards there was a very nice lunch outside on the lawn.
It was an opportunity for me to encourage the seminarians, as they begin a new academic year after their summer experiences, which are also an important part of their formation and preparation for ministry.
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That afternoon, I went for a visit with Dr. Drew Faust, the president of Harvard University, in her offices. With me was Father Bryan Hehir, who is a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. We had a very interesting talk on current events and other topics.
During our visit she presented me with a copy of her book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.
She pointed out that the Civil War is the conflict that has claimed the most American lives. Every war since then, cumulatively, does not reach that total.
She said people have asked her if her book was an indictment of the Civil War. She said her response is that she thinks it is helpful for people to understand the consequences of war the changes that the Civil War brought to our society. She also spoke about some of the parallels she sees between World War I and the Civil War. It was a fascinating discussion.
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After our meeting at Harvard, I stopped in to San Lorenzo Friary in Jamaica Plain. The friars were having workshops on Franciscan spirituality this week and so they invited me to come to Vespers.
Afterward, Brother James and Brother Tino cooked a lovely meal for us.
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Finally, I want to conclude this week mentioning the upcoming Labor Day holiday.
Unfortunately, many of our holidays – even religious holidays – eventually become separated from their original meaning. While, for many, Labor Day may just represent a last chance to head to the beach or a long weekend to do back-to-school shopping, it is of course an important time to remember the dignity of work and the importance of people’s employment in their lives.
The Church has always been an ally of the labor movement and in today’s world, unemployment and underemployment are a constant concern. In particular, the number of youth and young adults who are unemployed or underemployed is of crisis proportions. An article in The Economist magazine not long ago stated that the number of unemployed people in the world under 30 years of age is equal to the population of the United States. This is one reason why the Holy Father is always talking about economic justice and the plight of the young, as well as the elderly, who are often disproportionately affected by economic crises.
In our own archdiocese, we have the tradition the Labor Guild going back to the time of Cardinal Richard Cushing. We have, through this organization, sought to advance the Church’s teachings on economic justice and the rights of workers by promoting strong labor-management relationships through education and mediation. We are truly thankful for them and for all those who contribute to society through their work.
Until next week,