Hello and welcome!
We are very pleased this week to learn about the advancements of several causes of canonization, including that of Father Solanus Casey, who will be beatified. Father Casey was a Capuchin friar, the son of Irish immigrants who joined a German Capuchin province — so I identify very much with him!
He served in New York City and Yonkers, but most of his ministry was in Detroit, where he ran a soup kitchen during the Great Depression.
He was the porter at his monastery, the friar in charge of answering the door and receiving people and taking care of the sick and the hungry who came to the monastery for help.
He was revered during his lifetime and there were many extraordinary events and occurrences that can only be considered miraculous. (But, for purposes of canonization, the miracles have to take place after the death of the individual.) I have known people who knew Father Solanus personally and have many extraordinary tales to tell about him.
Because of his background as an Irish American, he never mastered German and so was unable to take the exams the friars demanded he pass to obtain permission to hear confessions. As a result, he was what we call a “simplex priest,” he celebrated Mass but did not have permission to hear confessions, and in many ways his life was one of direct service to the poor, praying and counseling people.
When he died in 1957, the funeral was something unlike Detriot has ever seen, before or after. Thousands upon thousands of people went to pay their respects.
We’ve been waiting a long time for this news. I know that the many people who are very devoted to Father Solanus are thrilled and that the people of Detroit must be very happy at having his beatification in a city where he spent so many years serving the poor.
Among the others whose causes for sainthood that were advanced this week was Cardinal François Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. He has now been proclaimed venerable.
Cardinal Van Thuan gave an inspiring witness to his faith after being imprisoned by the Vietnamese government in 1975. He spent 13 years in prison or under house arrest, including 9 years in solitary confinement. Many are surely familiar with the stories of how he celebrated Mass with crumbs of bread and drops of wine during those years. He was eventually released in the early 1990s and spent the rest of his life in exile. We also join the many people, particularly our Vietnamese brothers and sisters, who are rejoicing at the advancement of his cause.
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Saturday, I went to Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton to celebrate the confirmations of young men and women formed through our campus ministries in the archdiocese. Msgr. Bill Fay and the other college chaplains were there with us to join in the happy occasion.
We are so grateful for the work that is being done in our campus ministry. There are about 65 colleges and universities in the archdiocese, so this is a very important mission for us. We are grateful to all of the men and women religious, priests, deacons, FOCUS missionaries and other lay people who work in ministering to college students throughout the archdiocese.
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Saturday afternoon, I went to the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville to attend the fundraising dinner for Little Sisters of the Poor. This is such an important event because the Sisters depend very much on providence for the maintenance of their ministries to the elderly and the poor.
We began our gathering with Mass, followed by the dinner, which was just marvelous.
We also presented the mother of Father Bob Blaney with a commemorative plate from the Galway Cathedral because some of her family had been involved with the construction of the Cathedral.
During the dinner, a number of items were auctioned. Perhaps the most popular was a football autographed by Tom Brady donated by the New England Patriots. It caused quite a stir and became something of bidding war — all the better for the Sisters!
Also, while I was at the Jeanne Jugan Residence, I was able to visit Bishop Elliott Thomas, the retired Bishop of the Virgin Islands, who now resides there under the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He’s doing very well and it was wonderful to spend some time with him.
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On Sunday, I went to St. Joseph Parish in Needham to celebrate the Mass to commemorate their Centennial Anniversary.
At the Mass, we were joined by many priests including, of course, by Father David Michael, who is the pastor at St. Joseph’s, but also by Msgr. Frank McGann, who is in residence there and this week celebrated his 68th anniversary of priestly ordination!
We presented the parish with a Papal Blessing on the occasion of their centenary.
After the Mass, there was a lovely reception and the students of the parish put on a wonderful musical program.
We are so grateful to Father David Michael, not only for his pastoral leadership at St. Joseph’s but also for all that he does in our interfaith and ecumenical outreach in the archdiocese.
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Sunday evening, I went to St. John’s Seminary for the gathering of Catholic University of America alumni in Boston. CUA is the bishop’s university and the university that has trained so many of our priests, religious, members of the hierarchy and Catholic educators over the last century.We began with a Mass and afterward there was a reception in the seminary refectory.
There were about 200 alumni gathered for the celebration, and it was an opportunity for President John Garvey to describe the ministry of CUA, which over the last several years has grown from being principally a graduate school to serving a very large undergraduate population, as well.
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Then on Monday, we celebrated the opening of the new Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) early childhood education center that is housed in the former Cathedral Grammar School. The facility will serve children from birth to six years old, many of whom have disabilities and challenges.
As I mentioned in my remarks, the Cathedral Grammar School was founded 150 years ago in the basement of the Cathedral and then 100 years ago they relocated to this building, and now we are so glad to see that it will continue the mission of helping the children of the area.
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Wednesday, we gathered at The Lantana in Randolph for our annual Presbyteral Convocation, which is always a wonderful occasion for priestly fraternity. In addition to a very large number of our priests, we were also very happy to have with us our deacons who will be ordained to the priesthood this month.
We began our gathering with lunch and opportunities for the priests to socialize together, as well as Midday Prayer.
We remembered in a special way Father Ed Doughty, who died earlier that day and will be buried next week. As I shared with my brother priests, I had visited Father Doughty Monday night in the hospital, at which time he seemed to be on the road to recovery. He shared with me how happy he was to be a priest and how he, with great faith, embraced his sickness and was trying to make it into a prayer. He told me he felt very close to his brother priests and was so grateful to the Little Sisters of the Poor for the wonderful care they are providing for his mother.
We offered prayers for him and all the priests who have passed away.
We began our afternoon program with a wonderful witness talk by Father John Culloty, who reflected on his ministry as an archdiocesan priest.
The guest speaker of the day was Archbishop Charles Brown, who until very recently was Papal Nuncio to Ireland and now he is being sent to Albania in the same capacity. He gave a wonderful talk, and afterward there was a period of question answers with the priests.
Also each year, the priests of the archdiocese choose three of their peers to be honored for their exemplary ministry. Traditionally, this recognition had been made at the Chrism Mass Luncheon, but last year it was given at the Convocation. That proved to be so popular that we repeated the practice this year.
This year’s honorees were Father John Sassani of Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton, Father Jim DiPerri of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted in Waltham and Father Gerry Petringa, who will be at St. Timothy in Norwood beginning next month.
I concluded our gathering with some brief remarks and a blessing.
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Finally, yesterday we had one of our regular gatherings with the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, which brings together the bishops of the four dioceses of Massachusetts along with a number of other diocesan officials. We discussed the various social and legislative issues of concern to our society and our peoples.
Until next week,