Hello and welcome!
This past weekend was, of course, Pentecost and as has been my tradition, I celebrated Confirmations for the young people of the Brazilian community in the archdiocese. Ordinarily, we would hold all the Confirmations at the same time at the Cathedral. However, this year, because the upper church of the Cathedral is closed, we are holding them in stages at different locations. This first group was held at the Madonna Queen shrine in East Boston and next weekend we’ll be celebrating Confirmations at St. Tarcisius in Framingham.
We had about 150 young people receive their Confirmation there and we were so happy to be joined by the priests and sisters active in the Brazilian Apostolate.
I presented the young people with a prayer card with Pope Francis’ prayer for young people in preparation for the upcoming Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment.
The image that accompanies the prayer is of St. John resting his head on the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Last Supper.
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That evening, I attended the annual Explorer Award Dinner to benefit the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library.
During the evening, they presented their Explorer Award to Peter Lynch and named a teacher fellowship in honor of Carolyn Lynch.
It’s a very fascinating center that Norman Leventhal established for the Boston Public Library. They have a fascinating collection of maps from the 15th century to the present. The center collects maps and atlases from all over the world and provides a center for research. There is particular interest in developing uses for maps and geographic material to engage young people’s curiosity about the world, thereby enhancing their understanding of geography, history, world cultures and citizenship.
Peter and Carolyn Lynch are two of those who have made such outstanding contributions to education in the Boston area, and in a very special way to our Catholic schools, and so they were very fitting candidate to be honored.
The Boston Public Library is, of course, itself such a great treasure. Being the oldest library United States they have so many treasures right in the heart of Boston. It’s just a great resource and source of pride for the people of Boston.
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Sunday, I went to St. Mary of the Annunciation in Cambridge to celebrate the Mass to mark their 150th anniversary.
Like most parishes of its age, St. Mary’s has a very rich and interesting history. I was particularly struck by the story the founding pastor, Father Thomas Scully.
Father Scully was born in Ireland and educated in England and Rome before he was ordained as a priest of Boston. After his ordination, he went to serve as an Army chaplain during the Civil War with the Massachusetts 9th Regiment, the “Fighting 9th” made up primarily of Irish Catholics. He had many harrowing experiences, including twice being a prisoner of war.
A history of the 9th Regiment written by one of its members gives an account of the Father Scully’s experience as a prisoner. I’m sure you’ll see why I found him such an interesting figure:
Our beloved chaplain, Father Scully, had a remarkable and thrilling experience during the seven days’ battles. He was a Roman Catholic priest who, everywhere on the battlefield, wholly regardless of its dangers and liable at any moment to be killed or wounded, administered to the spiritual and personal welfare of the wounded and dying. At the battle of Hanover Court House, at Mechanicsville, at Gaines Mill and the Chickahominy, he diligently followed his priestly office unobtrusively and unmolested, until he was discovered by the enemy inside their lines on the 27th. Our forces had fallen back so suddenly that Father Scully was unaware of his exact position until he was taken prisoner. He declared to his captors who and what he was, and being unarmed and a non-combatant, expected to be allowed to attend to the wounded; but, strange to relate, he was arrested and placed under a guard of soldiers.
… Finding no mercy at the hands of his enemies, Father Scully resolved to gain his freedom at the first opportunity or perish in the attempt. As night wore along the guards became negligent and sleepy. As the sentinel soon fell asleep the chaplain suggested to a few of the prisoners near him that they quietly crawl away and make their escape. His suggestion was acted upon, and they were not long in reaching the shadows of the woods in the swamps of the Chickahominy. They had barely entered the cover of the woods when they were missed, and the alarm given; at once the sentinels went in pursuit of them.
As Father Scully and his companions broke through the woods they made considerable noise; this brought on the fire of the pursuers, and the bullets whistled quite freely over the heads of the fleeing prisoners. In order to gain time and baffle the enemy, Father Scully resorted to strategy; he directed the men to gather up handsful of mud, for the swamps were full of it, and together they would throw it off on their flank; as it rattled through the trees and branches it drew the force and fire of the guards off in that direction. In the meantime they rapidly gained headway, until finally everything in their rear became silent. In wading through the river, which was quite low at this time, they lost their boots and shoes in the mud, and of course, were obliged to continue in their stocking feet. They were fortunate in not running up against the enemy, and in coming up with the Union army, where they were soon enabled to join their regiments.
At Savage Station, Father Scully had the misfortune to fall into the enemy’s clutches a second time. His capture was somewhat similar to his first experience, that is, he was attending to the wounded, and unaware of his proximity to the foe. He was, if anything, treated more harshly than when first taken. While in their hands he witnessed some brutal treatment of our wounded men by the Southern guard, and at once remonstrated against it in a vigorous manner. A Confederate officer present ordered him away, and in an angry manner told him it was none of his business, but Father Scully insisted that it was his affair, and that he would not stand by and see wounded Union soldiers brutally treated without attempting to prevent it. This courageous and manly attitude on the part of our chaplain stirred the bile in the gentleman who represented Southern chivalry on horseback. In shrill, excited tones and with a strong Southern accent he cried : “Yer Yank, if I had a rope here I’d hang you up to one of these here trees.”
As this gallant officer had no rope handy, the hanging of Father Scully did not take place. Again the same rough treatment was used, and he was hurried off to Richmond with other prisoners under guard.
At Richmond the Provost Marshal to whom Father Scully was taken treated him with the kind forbearance of a Christian officer and gentleman. He allowed him the freedom of the city, only requiring of him to report to him once each day. After the great excitement through which he had passed for several days was over, he was stricken with a terrible fever and lay at death’s door in a brother priest’s house, unconscious and delirious for three weeks. When sufficiently recovered in health and strength to move about once more, he was unconditionally released and sent north. The malarial fever that had taken hold of his whole system continued to keep him in poor health, so much so that his physician would not allow him to go south again, and he was obliged to resign his commission as chaplain of the Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers on account of disability. He never fully recovered in health and strength from the hardships and dangers through which he passed in the Army of the Potomac. At the present writing he is the permanent rector of St. Mary’s of the Annunciation Catholic Church, Cambridgeport.
The Archdiocese of Boston has always had a very proud tradition of sending chaplains to serve our Armed Forces. Even 150 years ago we see how this chaplain not only served, but was twice a prisoner of war during the Civil War. Despite his health, he returned to Boston to found St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish, which came to include a grade school, high school and even a junior college called St. Thomas Aquinas College, which lasted until 1905.
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That evening, I attended the 8th annual Gala Dinner of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary, honoring George Weigel, who was the keynote speaker.
The theme of the evening focused very much on the life and ministry of John Paul II, because the Holy Father was the inspiration for the founding of the Redemptoris Mater seminaries.
George Weigel gave a wonderful conference on the life of John Paul II.
The evening’s other honoree was Ronald J. Brodeur, president of Brodeur Construction Corporation, who was presented with the seminary’s Evangelization Award.
I also every much enjoyed the video on Pope John Paul II that they presented during the dinner, which was produced by one of our newly ordained priests, Father Wellington Oliveira.
It was a wonderful evening and I was happy to come out to support the seminary.
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Monday, I attended the funeral for Charlotte Flatley at St. Agatha’s Parish in Milton. Charlotte was an extraordinary Catholic in the archdiocese whose life of dedication to her family, her Church and her community has been a blessing to so many.
With Charlotte and her son, Dan, after a Mass the Pastoral Center
I was very happy to be able to gather with her family. Father Bill Brown gave a very beautiful homily in reflection on Charlotte’s life that was very edifying for us all. The great good she did and the impact she and her husband Tom made will long be remembered.
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Finally, though I was unable to attend, I want to note that this week was also the annual Catholic University of America Cardinals Dinner.
While in the past the dinner was hosted by Cardinals in different cities, now they are being held in Washington, D.C. to give more people an opportunity to visit the campus and see the extraordinary work that is being done at the Catholic University of America.
We are so grateful to all those who played a part in this important event to support the mission of CUA.
Until next week,