Hello and welcome!
This week, I was very happy to be invited by Cardinal Joseph Tobin to address the Newark Archdiocese’s Catholic Men’s Conference, which was held at Seton Hall University last Saturday.
Lent is always a wonderful time to hold these types of events and they had about 2,000 men in attendance.
Speakers for the English track included NFL player Jeff Feagles, Catholic author and commentator Dr. Scott Sullivan; and Pepe Alonso of EWTN and my good friend Mario Paredes of the American Bible Society for the Spanish track.
I gave talks in the morning to both the English and Spanish groups.
I was very happy to be part of this very successful event.
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The next day, on Sunday morning, I was visited at the cathedral by some friends of mine from Washington D.C., Gabriel and Monica Gross. They were here because they have one of their daughters living in the area now.
They are Ecuadorian, and they brought me this statue of the Virgin of Quito.
It’s a very interesting depiction of the Blessed Mother. At first, I thought it was an angel because of the wings, but it depicts Mary as the Woman of the Apocalypse, with the crown of stars, standing on the moon with the serpent under her feet.
The original of the statue is in the Church of St. Francis in Quito. Quito has two very large churches – St. Francis and the Jesuit church, la Compañía.
The Church of San Francisco was considered so magnificent when it was built that they say that the king of Spain at the time, King Philip II, supposedly went to the towers of his palace in Madrid, El Escorial, to see if he could see the spires of the Church of San Francisco on the horizon.
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Then, that afternoon, we celebrated the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the cathedral.
On the First Sunday of Lent, in cathedrals around the world, the new adult Catholics take part in this ceremony that prepares them for the baptismal retreat of Lent their reception into the Church at the Easter vigil.
It’s always a wonderful opportunity gather them at the Cathedral and help these new Catholics understand that they are not just joining a parish, but also the Universal Church. It’s also very reaffirming for them to understand that, on this day, many thousands of others are joining them being prepared to be received into the Church.
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On Monday morning, I went to Chelsea to give the invocation and benediction at the dedication of the new FBI building that has been constructed there.
With us for the dedication was the new FBI director, James Comey. It was nice to be able to meet him and I was surprised to learn that his father had been a Capuchin seminarian in New York before ultimately leaving and getting married.
Director Comey is a very tall man, and he joked when he came up to speak after Governor Baker (who is also over 6 feet tall), that he was happy to be in a place with normal sized people!
It’s a very beautiful building and I’m sure the people of Chelsea are very proud to have this new facility in their city. It certainly will provide much more space for the important work that the FBI does to protect our communities and our country.
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On Tuesday I went to visit the community of the Sisters of Jesus Crucified in Brockton. They are a community of Lithuanian sisters who, for many years, ran schools and nursing homes in the archdiocese.
The Sisters of Jesus Crucified have entered into a covenant agreement with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston and there was a celebration between the two communities. The covenant agreement means that, as the Sisters of Jesus Crucified grow older and their numbers decrease, at the point it becomes necessary the Sisters of St. Joseph will take over their care.
Bishop John Dooher and I concelebrated the Mass, which was attended by sisters from both communities, including the superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sister Rosemary Brennan, and Sister Mary Valliere, the superior of the Sisters of Jesus Crucified.
The Sisters of Jesus Crucified have also been giving hospitality to a group of Vietnamese sisters who are studying in the Boston area. The sisters sang some songs in Vietnamese for us.
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Thursday morning I was very happy to attend a breakfast for the Catholic Schools Foundation scholars class of 2017 hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in their offices in Boston.
There were a number of benefactors of the Catholic Schools Foundation with us, including Peter Lynch and Bill Mosakowski, as well as many of the principals from our Catholic schools who accompanied their scholars.
It was a very uplifting experience especially having the opportunity to listen to the students who spoke so eloquently about their experience of Catholic education and how important it has been in their lives.
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Also, that afternoon, I was very happy to visit with John and Margarite McNeice and their friends, Kaye McAvoy and Ed Casey.
John and Margarite have been dedicated friends and supporters of the archdiocese for many years. So many of our ministries — seminaries, schools, Catholic Charities and many more — have greatly benefitted from their generous support.
I was wonderful to be able to spend some time with them and also with their beloved German Shepherd, King, who is very welcoming and friendly to all who visit the McNeice home.
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Finally, as I’m sure all of you know, next Friday is St. Patrick’s Day and I want to invite you all to join our St. Patrick’s Day Mass, which I will celebrate at noon at the Cathedral the Holy Cross. I know there has been some confusion about the venue of the Mass because some renovations had been planned, but it will be held at the Cathedral the Holy Cross.
I hope many of you can join us for this wonderful annual celebration of the patron saint of the archdiocese, which, as always, will include the blessing and distribution of the shamrocks, pipes and drums, and the reception with Irish music in the hall afterward.
And, because this is such an important feast for the Archdiocese of Boston, I have granted a dispensation for that day from abstinence from meat, so you can feel free to enjoy your corned beef and cabbage (or any other meat you like) next Friday as well!
Until next week,