Hello and welcome!
Each year I like to celebrate the Confirmations for college students throughout the archdiocese at the Cathedral.
It’s always a very important event, and this year Msgr. Bill Fay, our new Coordinator of Campus Ministry, was present with us.
As I often say, campus ministry is one of the very important ministries of the archdiocese, because we have over 200,000 university students here in the Boston area. We are very blessed to have the Brotherhood of Hope, the FOCUS missionaries and many others, such as Father David Barnes and Father Mark Murphy, who are so devoted to this important ministry working on our local campuses.
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That afternoon, I joined the annual gala to benefit the Jeanne Jugan Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Somerville.
We began with Mass, which was concelebrated by a number of priests whose mothers are residents at Jeanne Jugan.
The Sisters are such an important presence in the archdiocese. Especially in this Year of Mercy we focus on their lives of mercy, as they serve the elderly and the sick.
We also are anxious to see what the final outcome of their legal challenge of the HHS mandate will be. I know I was among the many people who were very pleased to see that the Supreme Court did not rule against them, but instead asked the government and the representatives of the Sisters to look for an alternative to the health care mandate that would be morally and ethically acceptable to the Sisters. I know our entire Catholic community is looking forward to seeing what kind of possibilities can be reached.
Also on Saturday, the Boston College Irish Studies Program had hosted an all-day conference, “Faith in the Future: Religion in Ireland in the 21st Century”.
Though I was unable to attend the conference itself, in the evening I joined the dinner for the speakers. I was very happy to have a chance to see Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson. Also with us was Marie Collins, who is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, as well as a very distinguished group of Irish and Irish-American scholars who participated in the conference.
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On Sunday, I paid a visit to St. Monica Parish in South Boston to celebrate Mass for the Spanish-speaking community there.
They recently lost the priest who had been celebrating Mass with them: Father Ramón from Chile, who was here studying but has now completed his studies and returned home. I know the community has been growing and I wanted to visit them and assure them of my support.
We were joined by the pastor, Father Steve Madden, the vicar Father Gerry Souza, and Deacon Paul Kline.
It was very encouraging to see such a full church, with many young families with young children.
They had a beautiful music program with a lovely selection of hymns. It was Good Shepherd Sunday and, for example, the last hymn was about looking for the lost sheep. You could tell that they took great care in selecting the hymns according to the liturgy. It was just very well done.
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Then, Sunday afternoon, I met with Brian Duggan, who happens to be Helen Alvaré’s husband. He came to speak to me about an interesting initiative that could be a good response to the physician-assisted suicide movement.
He is promoting the concept of a hotline to help people who are facing end-of-life issues and need support. I was interested in learning more about his idea as this issue is becoming more and more relevant in today’s world. For example, a story in today’s New York Times — page 1, above the fold —says that suicides in the United States are up nearly 25% since 1999. With statistics like that, this is not the time to be passing legislation legalizing suicide. As the World Health Organization has said, physician-assisted suicide can create an impression in people’s minds that suicide is a valid solution to people’s problems.
This hotline could be a response to help people who are in crisis and facing end-of-life issues alone. We are already very focused on trying to provide palliative care, but this could be something that could work in tandem with those efforts.
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We were very saddened to learn the Father Raymond Helmick passed away yesterday.
We are very grateful that the Jesuits at Weston have accepted Msgr. Bill Helmick there for rehabilitation after his heart surgery. It also allowed him to be close to his brother in his brother’s last days.
On Monday I went to visit them and I was very touched to the see support of the Helmick family for both brothers. We express our condolences and thank God for Father Ray’s vocation and his many years of service to the Church, particularly here in Boston.
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Monday evening, I went to the Sheraton hotel in Framingham for the Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus’ annual Lantern Awards Banquet.
The Lantern Award is presented each year on Patriots’ Day to “honor those who reflected the religious and patriotic ideals of the Founding Fathers.”
This year, the Knights chose to honor all our military chaplains in the Archdiocese of the Military Services with the award. Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services sent his Vicar General, Msgr. John Foster, to receive the award on his behalf.
We were very pleased, obviously, because in Boston we are one of the dioceses that most supports the Military Archdiocese by sending men to serve as chaplains in the armed forces.
After receiving the award, Msgr. Foster gave a very nice talk on the importance of the work of chaplains.
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Wednesday, we had our semi-annual meeting of the Bishops of the Boston province here at the Pastoral Center.
Among the many agenda items of the day, our Judicial Vicar, Father Mark O’Connell, addressed us on the latest changes to the annulment process.
We are very happy that a number of our retired bishops were able to join us as well as Bishop Nick Samra of the Eparchy of Newton.
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And finally Thursday we had the annual board meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Archdiocese of Boston. The most familiar of these societies for most would be the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, but there is also the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious.
We are so proud of the long tradition we have in Boston of so strongly supporting the missions and we are very grateful to Father Rodney Copp, Maureen Heil and the whole staff who work so hard to make the Societies so effective in their mission.
Until next week,