Hello and welcome!
This week, I have been in Rome for meetings of the Council of Cardinals advising the Holy Father on the reform of the Roman Curia.
I arrived in Rome on Saturday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holiday in Italy and has many traditions associated with it.
Every year since the mid-1800s, the firefighters of Rome hang a wreath of flowers on the statue of the Virgin Mary overlooking the Spanish Steps.
Then, there is a visit by the Holy Father in which he prays and leaves a basket of roses at the foot of the statue.
It is also the day that crèches are first put up for the season.This year, the crèche in St. Peter’s Square is rather unique. The sculpture is made of sand taken from a beach in Venice.
The crèche in Domus Santa Marta
This crèche sits next to the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, which is an Ethiopian Catholic church in Vatican City.
I thought it was very interesting, with its two levels
It’s lit up very beautifully at night, as well
I also wanted to share with you this photo of an area inside Vatican City that I had never visited before.
It is off the side of the colonnade, near the Portone di Bronzo, or Bronze Doors, that lead to the Apostolic Palace. The wall that you see in the photo contains the passageway between the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo. That passageway is mentioned in Dan Brown’s novel when he talks about having a corridor that would lead from the Apostolic Palace to the fortress. Of course, at times when the Holy See was under attack, they would have had to take the pope through that passageway to the fortress.
On Sunday, I had lunch with Father Charles Sammons and Brother Thomas Piolatta, two of the American Capuchin friars who are stationed in Rome.
With Brother Tom and Father Charles
Father Charles works at the Capuchin General Curia and Brother Tom, who is from my own Province of St. Augustine and made his final vows in Pittsburgh this summer, is pursuing graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University. It was lovely to see them.
Whenever I am in Rome, I try to set aside some time to meet with the Boston priests and seminarians who are there. So, on Sunday night, I had dinner with our seminarians at the Pontifical North American College and Fathers Kevin Staley-Joyce and Andreas Davison, who are pursuing graduate studies in Rome. We were also joined by Msgr. Paul McInerny and Msgr. John Abruzzese.
It was nice to be able to celebrate Msgr. Abruzzese’s recent nomination as a Canon of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. He has just started there and seems very happy in his new role.
Also during the week, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Msgr. William Helmick. Msgr. Helmick recently retired from his post at St. Theresa’s in West Roxbury, and he was taking some time to visit Rome during the Advent season.
Monday, our meetings of the Council of Cardinals began. This time, we discussed the preparations for the February meeting of the presidents of bishops’ conferences on the topic of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, some proposals to find savings in the operating costs of the Holy See, as well as an update on the status of the new Dicastery for Communications.
We were very happy to be joined at our meetings by Bishop Marco Mellino, the new adjunct secretary of the Council. Bishop Mellino is a canon lawyer, and he will be assisting on the canonical aspects of the document for the reform of the Curia that we have just finished, Predicate Evangelium. So, we congratulated him and are happy to have his help in our work.
Celebrating Mass with the Holy Father on Tuesday
Every year a different state in Mexico puts on an exhibition of their Christmas traditions at the Paul VI Audience Hall. So, on Tuesday evening there was a reception held by the Embassy of Mexico to the Holy See to showcase it. This year the state selected was Tamaulipas, which is on Mexico’s east coast, just south of Texas.
Tamaulipas is the home state of actor Eduardo Verástegui, so he was with us for the event. Eduardo is a member of the Papal Foundation, but I am sure he will be more widely recognized for his roles in “Bella,” “Little Boy” and “For Greater Glory.”
That afternoon, I had lunch with the leadership of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at Domus Santa Marta.
With CCCB General Secretary Msgr. Frank Leo; President, Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Quebec; and Vice President, Archbishop Richard Gagnon of Winnipeg
They were in Rome on their annual visit to meet with the Holy Father and the curial offices, and they wanted to discuss some of their initiatives around child protection.
That evening I was very happy to join the Holy Father for his Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Mass was celebrated in Spanish and there was a huge crowd of Latin Americans in the basilica.
The Mass is always very colorful, with people wearing their traditional clothing.
They ended the Mass by carrying the image of Our Lady in procession and singing one of the very famous hymns to Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Desde el cielo una hermosa mañana.”
I returned to Boston Thursday, and today I celebrated the Funeral Mass for Father Joseph Kane at St. Catherine Parish in Norwood, joined by Bishop Uglietto, Father Kane’s close friends Father Tom Wyndham and Father Garrett Barry and many of our fellow priests. In his homily, Father Wyndham shared how much Father Kane loved being a priest and that his almost 50 years of ordained ministry were lived in joyful service to the people of God.
For many years, Father Kane was the chaplain at Marian Manor in South Boston where he was much beloved by the residents and the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm, a presence he continued during his years as a Senior Priest in residence at Regina Cleri. In recognition of that service, the Carmelite Sisters and the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master joined us at the Mass. It is always good to be with the Sisters who provide such important ministry in the archdiocese, and it was wonderful to have them there as we bid Father Kane farewell.
Until next week,