Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday I met with Sister Caterina, who is the local superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Divine Mercy and she came to discuss some of their future projects and plans.
We are so blessed to have the Sisters of Divine Mercy at St. Ann’s Parish in Neponset. They help with the Divine Mercy ministry, their retreat house, and works evangelization — especially their ministry to prisoners. For all this, we are so grateful for their presence in the archdiocese.
On Friday, I traveled to Washington D.C. in preparation for the Fall Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore on Monday.
While I was in Washington, on Friday, I took part in a conference at The Catholic University of America on the mission and identity of Catholic universities held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Land O’Lakes Statement.
The Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre gave an opening address, followed by my remarks.
On Saturday, I visited the Shrine of the Sacred Heart with Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador.
With Brother Saul; the pastor at Sacred Heart, Father Moises; and Cardinal Rosa Chavez
There, we met with a group of about 25 young people who are part of the DACA program. These are people who were brought to this country as children and have been given legal status. There were many dramatic testimonies of their experience, relating how they came to this country and how they have been able to build lives here studying or starting careers thanks to DACA.
Sunday I went to the Capilla Latina, as we called it, which is now Our Lady Queen of the Americas Parish to join in the celebration of their 50th anniversary.
This is a parish where I worked for many years when I was in Washington, and it was a wonderful chance to see old friends and parishioners, many of whom I had baptized or married.
One of the parishioners gave me this picture of me presiding at their wedding. (They tell me I haven’t changed a bit!)
I worked in that community for many years, and in those days, the Capilla Latina was a high school run by the Holy Cross Brothers, but we used it on weekends and at night.
On the weekends, we had three Spanish Masses and a Portuguese Mass. On Saturdays, we also had our Portuguese school and all day Sunday we had English classes. At night, we would hold GED and Spanish literacy classes, as well as bilingual secretarial training. During any given week, we would have somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 students there for our classes.
They still hold many classes there, including this adult religious formation class, which was being conducted during our visit.
As I told the people at the Mass, I was taken aback at how beautifully the center has been transformed since my time there. (It was a much more “humble” place, then.) I said I felt like the character Segismundo in the play “La Vida es Sueño” (“Life is a Dream”), who spends his life imprisoned in a dank cave but is drugged and taken in his sleep to the royal court. When he wakes up, he finds himself surrounded by splendor. I told the people I felt like this is what happened to me, and that I was completely disoriented because the place looks so beautiful compared to what way it did when I was a young priest!
The pastor at Our Lady Queen of the Americas is Father Alejandro Diaz, who is originally from El Salvador but studied at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Boston.
Behind us, on the wall, you see an image of the paralytic being lowered from the roof to meet Jesus. The painting marks the spot where they are hoping to be able to install an elevator!
As I mentioned, on Monday we began our meeting of the U.S. Bishops Fall Assembly in Baltimore.
During the course of the week, immigration was a central topic of our discussions. Of course, much has been written elsewhere about the proceedings of our meeting, so I won’t try to recount them all here, but rather offer some personal recollections.
One of those highlights was our Opening Mass, which was held at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Baltimore to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the bishops’ conference.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin was our principal celebrant and homilist, and he gave a beautiful reflection in which he spoke about the work of the conference on behalf of the poor and refugees over the last century and praised its efforts to promote a more just society.
The USCCB has its origins in the National Catholic War Council that was formed in 1917, during World War I, to help support the war effort and provide aid to service members. After the war, the council was transformed into the National Catholic Welfare Council, which worked to address the needs of refugees and others who suffered so much in the aftermath of the war.
Each year during the Fall Assembly, Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary hosts a breakfast in order to acquaint more bishops with the work of the seminary. So, I was happy to join them Wednesday morning for the breakfast, at which Father Brian Kiley spoke and two seminarians gave witness talks.
It was also an opportunity for me to tell the bishops that we are offering a program at Pope John XXIII for priests who are returning to ministry, some of whom may have been away from ministry for a long time. That seemed to be of great interest to the bishops.
During the conference, I had also an opportunity to have dinner with Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He gave me a report about the situation in Puerto Rico, which is very serious, and we have sent a great deal of aid from the Archdiocese of Boston directed to the Catholic Charities of the various dioceses of Puerto Rico. In fact, I will be traveling to Puerto Rico next week myself to celebrate an ordination, and it will also give me an opportunity to see the situation there firsthand.
On Thursday, I returned to Boston to celebrate the Funeral Mass of Father Timothy Murphy at Immaculate Conception Church in Salem. His classmate, Father Tom Oates, gave a beautiful homily and one of Father Tim’s nieces offered the reflection.
It was a very beautiful send-off attended by so many whose lives had been touched by his ministry. Though he had been away from Salem for many years, he is still fondly remembered and the parishioners came out in force to be present at his funeral. They were joined by many of his parishioners from St. Angela’s, where he had been in the past, as well as representatives of the Focolare Movement, with which Father Tim was very involved.
As I was leaving, one of the Knights of Malta pointed out to me the statue of Irish Capuchin Father Theobald Mathew, the great 19th century temperance priest.
I’ve been to the church many times, but I had never averted to the fact that they had that statue there. Given its long history, I would presume that Immaculate Conception would have been one of the churches he visited when he came to the U.S. around 1850. It was a very interesting and unexpected discovery.
Until next week,