Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday, I celebrated a special Mass at the Pastoral Center for our permanent deacons who are celebrating their Silver Jubilees of ordination.
We were very pleased to be joined by Father Frank Silva, who was the director of the diaconate program 25 years ago, Sister Mary Reardon who is retiring from the office after many years of service, and the current Acting Director of the Permanent Diaconate Program, Msgr. William Fay.
– – –
Friday I was visited by Cary Summers and Steve Green who came to speak to me about the new Museum of the Bible being constructed in Washington D.C., which is going to have a component for the Vatican Library and the Vatican Museum.
Steve is chairman of the board and Cary is president of the new museum. As part of their efforts, they are reaching out to Catholics, Protestants and Jews to help in organizing exhibitions.
This is a wonderful new initiative, particularly for Washington D.C., a city where many people go to visit museums. It will be located in the area of the National Mall, not very far from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
I think it will be a wonderful way to underscore the importance of the Bible in our lives and also in our relationship with other believers.
– – –
That afternoon, I stopped by to greet the nearly 500 schoolchildren participating in the Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour sponsored by the World Apostolate of Fatima. They hold this event every year in our Cathedral and every year the numbers are growing.
Father Ed Riley was the main celebrant for the gathering and I was very glad I had the opportunity to speak to these young children about the importance of prayer in their lives and of Eucharistic devotion.
– – –
On Saturday, I presided at the investiture of four new novices of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth.
It was a beautiful celebration at Sacred Heart Church in Newton. We were very happy to be joined by the pastor of Sacred Heart, Father John Sassani, along with a number of other priests, relatives of the sisters and friends of the community.
Since the Sisters have moved to Quincy, it was also something of a farewell for the community. I know they were certainly sorry to leave their former home in the Chestnut Hill/Newton area but they have been blessed with so many vocations that they outgrew their convent and need a larger facility. Certainly the increase of vocations is a great blessing.
– – –
In the evening, I went to St. Lorenzo’s Friary in Jamaica Plain for celebration and recalling the death of St. Francis, called the Transitus, in which we recite the same prayers that he recited and read from the Scriptures and the account of his death by St. Bonaventure. (“Transitus” is Latin for “passage” and refers to the passage from life to death.) Francis died at the church of San Damiano, where he began his vocation and where the order still honors his memory, particularly on his feast day and at the Transitus.
I try to join the celebration every year, which is one that is repeated in the different Franciscan houses, chapels and churches throughout the world.
The celebration of the Transitus is a very solemn moment, as we prepare for the celebration of St. Francis’s feast day itself. It serves as a moment to renew our allegiance to Francis and to his ideals. It also reminds us that we must be prepared to accept Sister Death, as St. Francis called it, with the same sense of peace and meaning that we see in his life.
– – –
Sunday, we had our second annual Mass for Public Safety Personnel and their Families, often called the Blue Mass, at the Cathedral the Holy Cross.
We were so pleased to welcome so many public safety officials, police, fire, EMT and corrections officers to our celebration, which began with a grand procession of the color guard, flags, and a pipe and drum corps.
We were also pleased to be joined by Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, along with many other officials from a number of local cities and towns.
– – –
From there, I went to celebrate the Mass at St. Theresa Church in West Roxbury for Women Religious marking their jubilees this year. It was inspiring to honor these women who have given so much to the Church.
There were literally millennia of consecrated life represented in this year’s 153 jubilarians. I understand that, combined, they represented more than 9,000 years of service to the Church.
Sister Catherine O’Connor gave a very beautiful reflection at the end of Mass.
Following the Mass, we gathered for a reception in the parish hall next-door. It was always wonderful to be able to spend some time being with the sisters greeting their families and friends.
– – –
Then, Sunday evening, I attended the annual Cushing Awards banquet of the St. James Society at Boston College High School. They had a very good crowd for the banquet this year.
I was happy to be there as president to present a lapel pin to all the former Cushing Award recipients who were present and to honor the three new Cardinal Cushing Medal awardees this year for “Excellence in Service to Humanity.” This year, they presented Cushing Medals to Father Vincent Daily and Robert Scannell Jr. and posthumously to Dr. Courtland Harlow Jr.
Father Daily has given long and distinguished service to the Church, including many years serving with the Society in Bolivia, where he worked to build schools and other facilities to improve the lives of the people.
Bob Scannell is president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester. Under his leadership, Dorchester Boys and Girls Clubs has done just so much to help improve the lives of young people in the neighborhood, including developing programs that serve the poor, the disadvantaged and the disabled.
The family of Dr. Harlow received the Cushing Medal on his behalf. Dr. Harlow was a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who, after building a very successful career here in Massachusetts, devoted himself to traveling to disadvantaged countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia to help people who had facial deformities. He would even provide the local doctors with the techniques and supplies they would need to continue with treatment after he left. He had to discontinue this work when he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago.
– – –
On Monday I visited Mount Alvernia Academy.
I had been scheduled to say the Mass there in honor of St. Francis, because the Franciscan Sisters were the founders of that school. (Of course, Mount Alvernia is a Franciscan name, it is where St. Francis received the stigmata.)
But the timing was very providential because it gave me the opportunity to be able to congratulate them on being named as one of the few schools in New England to receive a Blue Ribbon designation for excellence by the Department of Education.
They are justifiably proud. Mount Alvernia was one of only five schools in Massachusetts — and the only private school in the whole Northeast — to receive this designation.
At the end of Mass we were addressed by a young man and young woman dressed as St. Francis and St. Clare who told the story of their lives. It was very nice and I very much enjoyed it.
– – –
Later that morning I returned to the Cathedral where we had a special opportunity to venerate the major relics of St. Maria Goretti. As regular readers will remember, I mentioned that the relics had been in Philadelphia during the time of the papal visit and, as part of their national tour, they made a stop in Boston at the Cathedral.
I understand that between 5,000 and 6,000 people came to see and venerate the relics throughout the day. We were particularly pleased to have large groups from Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth, as well as a number of buses from St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.
In fact, the pastor of St. Maria Goretti, Father Paul Ritt, celebrated the 11 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral.
The Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher and the Knights of Columbus were there in large numbers as honor guards for the relics.
Father Carlos Martins, who is a member of the Companions of the Cross, had organized this tour to take the relics to 25 cities in the United States.
The tour was timed in connection with the beginning of the Year of Mercy. St. Maria was killed by a sexual predator, named Alessandro, whom she resisted but forgave on her deathbed. In fact, after he served his prison term Alessandro actually became a lay brother at a Capuchin monastery.
There are different aspects of her story that we should ponder: first, her defense of her own personal virtue and secondly, the forgiveness and rehabilitation of this man who was a criminal. It’s a very powerful message for our times.
– – –
Later that day, I met with Sister Rose Clara who is the Regional Superior of the Missionaries of Charity, the sisters of Mother Teresa. She was visiting the local communities here and came to greet me and say hello.
– – –
Tuesday before my departure for Rome for meetings with the Holy Father, I gave opening remarks to a meeting of our Pastoral Center staff on the importance of our pastoral plan, Disciples in Mission.
At this point, a number of parishes have been developing their local pastoral plans, which are a very essential part of the process of renewal and revitalization of parish life, with a commitment to reach out to different demographics who have drifted away from the practice of the faith. It is also a commitment to work for vocations in a strategy to be able to encourage vocations in our parishes.
I wanted to encourage our staff to prepare for the Year of Mercy and to continue their outreach to the parishes. We are trying to promote that culture of service to help our parishes, in particular those parishes that are going through the challenge of forming collaboratives and setting goals and priorities for evangelization.
Until next week,