Hello and welcome,
I hope you had a very happy and blessed Christmas!
On Friday, I went to have lunch with the residents of Regina Cleri, our retirement home for priests in Boston. In addition to visiting with the men there, I also wanted to check in to see how Bishop Frank Irwin was doing after his recent operation.
As always, the sisters did a wonderful job decorating Regina Cleri for the Christmas season.
It was wonderful to be able to visit with our senior priests at Regina Cleri.
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On Saturday morning, Christmas Eve, I went the Catholic Charities’ Teen Center at St. Peter’s in Dorchester for their annual distribution of Christmas gifts to children, following a tradition started by the late Mayor Menino.
Mayor Menino’s daughter and her family were there with us, and his family is still very much involved in supporting the Teen Center.
We were also very happy to be joined by Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and Mayor Marty Walsh as well as a number of local priests, including the pastor of St. Peter’s, Father John Currie, Father John Connolly, Father Jack Ahern and Father Doc Conway.
We are very proud of the fine work that goes on at Catholic Charities Teen Center. Paulo De Barros has been the director for some time, since he took over from Brother Tino, and does a marvelous job.
They do quite a bit of work with the Cape Verdean immigrant population. There are over 300 young people who participate in the programs there, and they have had wonderful success in helping them to finish high school and go on to college. It was very encouraging to see the large crowds and how important the Teen Center is, not only to the young people that participate in programs there, but also to the whole community. This Christmas program was just another indication of their outreach to the neighborhood.
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From there, we went to visit Pine Street Inn, which is just down the street from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
I was greeted by the executive director of Pine Street, Lyndia Downie, who showed me in and helped me get set up for the meal service.
I gave a blessing for the meal and then helped to distribute the lunches, both in the men’s section and the women’s section.
There are always a number of families that go to help serve the meal on Christmas Eve, and I always enjoy the chance to meet some of the volunteers.
Among those volunteering with us was Lisa Alberghini, the director of Our Planning Office for Urban Affairs, which works very closely with Pine Street Inn on a number of housing projects.
Also, a number of our priests, such as Msgr. Frank Kelly and father John Unni, are very involved in the work of Pine Street, as well.
I spoke to a number of the media at Pine Street Inn. It gave me an opportunity to try to focus on some of the themes around homelessness in our community, namely the lack of care for people who are mentally ill or are suffering from addictions, and the lack of sufficient housing, particularly for people with low wages. (Today, you can be working full-time and still be homeless.) These are all challenges that our modern society has to deal with, and we’re not doing very well at it. But Pine Street Inn, St. Francis house and Boston Healthcare for the Homeless are efforts that we can all be very proud of.
The problem of homelessness exists all year round, not just at Christmastime. But I’m very happy that, at Christmas, the media take this opportunity to focus on this important issue. As I always like to remind people, at the first Christmas the Holy Family was homeless, and after their homelessness in Bethlehem they ended up being refugees to Egypt.
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That evening, of course, we had the midnight Mass at the Cathedral the Holy Cross.
It was very encouraging to see such a full church.
Father O’Leary’s crew decorated the cathedral so beautifully and we had good weather, so it was a wonderful evening for people to be out. Not every parish has midnight Mass, but the cathedral still does. I like having the Mass at midnight — at the darkest moment of the night is when Christ, the Light of the World, makes his presence felt.
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On Christmas morning, I went to St. Francis House, where I visited the volunteers and the residents who gather there during the day.
We had a Christmas service together with the singing of carols.
We were so happy to be joined once again by Father Bob Kickham’s nephews and niece who assisted us with the music.
It was a beautiful celebration and an opportunity to reflect on the Christmas message with the people gathered there. I reminded them that St. Francis was the first to initiate the Christmas crèche, because he wanted people to see how Christ was born in poverty and homelessness.
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Then, later that morning I celebrated the 11 a.m. Christmas Mass at the Cathedral the Holy Cross. It was a beautiful day, and we are so grateful that we had an opportunity to mark the Lord’s birthday with such joy.
We are grateful for all the people who gathered with us at Christmastime.
We know many people come home to church at Christmas, and we were anxious to make it a beautiful and uplifting experience for them.
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Finally, I want to remind everyone that I will be celebrating Mass tomorrow night, New Year’s Eve, at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston. We will gather for prayer and adoration at 10 p.m. followed by Mass at 11:30. After the Mass, we will share some refreshments together in the refectory downstairs.
I invite you to join me in marking the start of the New Year celebrating the Feast of Mary the Mother of God. I hope to see you there!
Until next week,