Last Thursday evening we had our annual Christmas Season Mass with the residents of Regina Cleri.
This year we were especially happy to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the ordination of Monsignor Alfonso Palladino. At the dinner following the Mass, they brought out a cake for him, which he ceremoniously cut. Afterwards monsignor gave us all his blessing.
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Saturday, I had the joy of ordaining five men as transitional deacons at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Anthony Cusack, Andrea Filippucci, Christopher Lowe, Peter Stamm, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic.
These are men who, God willing, will be ordained priests in the spring. During this time, they will be finishing up their classes and working in parishes as they prepare for their priestly ordination in May.
While an ordination is always a wonderful occasion, it was particularly nice to be able to celebrate the ordination with the Cathedral still decorated for Christmas.
At the end of the Mass I encouraged those who were present or watching on television to pray for these men, and to pray and work for vocations. As I always say: Vocations are everybody’s business.
And of course, I was especially pleased that this week the Holy Father has announced that during his visit to the United States in September he is going to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra. Blessed Father Serra is the Franciscan Friar who founded the missions in California that went on to grow into many of the important cities of that state. He is, of course, also the patron of Serra International, which does so much to promote vocations in our dioceses and throughout the country.
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Each year during the Christmas season, I celebrate a Mass for survivors of sexual abuse and their families. It is an important moment to bring people together and hopefully help them in their healing. Because it was held Saturday evening, we celebrated the Mass of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
We were so pleased that Deacon Paul Kline, who works closely with Vivian Soper in our Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach, invited the youth choir from St. Mary’s in Foxborough to sing at the Mass.
Their singing was just heavenly.
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Sunday, I traveled to Westwood to celebrate Confirmations at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, where Father Peter Quinn is the pastor.
There were about 80 young people receiving Confirmation. It was a beautiful celebration.
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On Tuesday, I attended a meeting of clergy in the city of Boston, which included representatives from a number of the local African American congregations, other Protestant denominations and Catholic parishes. We met at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury to reflect on our ministries and how we can better collaborate for the good of our congregations and the wider community.
We are so grateful to Rev. Arthur Gerald Jr. of the Twelfth Baptist Church; Rev. Jeffrey Brown, the leader of RECAP (Rebuilding Every Community Around Peace); and Father Jim Flavin, our Episcopal Vicar for the Central Region, for all they did in organizing and facilitating the meeting and discussion.
During our conversation it was noted that the Boston Police Department, with its diverse and well experienced leadership, is consistently supportive of community outreach initiatives. We are all grateful to Mayor Walsh, Commissioner Evans and Superintendent Gross for their support of the faith communities in Boston and their being present and available whenever asked to assist us.
We also noted that the clergy have a special role to play in the work of healing, reconciliation and advancement in the city, and can be very effective at these efforts because of the relationships we are able to establish based in faith. We all agreed that we will continue these conversations, sharing resources and experiences and challenging one another to be witnesses of our Lord’s presence to the people we serve.
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Also that day, we had one of our regular board meetings of St. John’s Seminary. We heard very positive reports on the current situation of St. John’s, including enrollment, finances and planning.
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That afternoon, I was visited by Bishop Pierre Jubinville of the Diocese of San Pedro in Paraguay. Bishop Jubinville is a Spiritan, or Holy Ghost Father, from Ottawa. He is a Francophone Canadian, but has been in mission for many years in Paraguay and was recently made Bishop of San Pedro, which is a rural diocese.
I visited San Pedro about five or six years ago and the Archdiocese of Boston has an ongoing relationship with them. One of our efforts has been trying to support diocesan priests there with the fund for emergency medical needs.
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Wednesday, we had one of our periodic meetings with the 30 or so priests who have been ordained for five years or fewer. Bishop Jubinville joined us for our gathering here at the Pastoral Center.
We had a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament and Vespers, followed by a discussion. This month we focused particularly on the Church Unity Octave and pro-life themes. We concluded our evening with dinner together.
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In the evening, we had a meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Among the items at the meeting was a presentation by our chancellor, John Straub in which he presented the process for creating a Strategic Plan for the Archdiocese.
In preparation for the development of the process, John has interviewed many pastors, leaders of archdiocesan ministries and related organizations to determine what a strategic plan for the archdiocese should include.
Evangelization is clearly the priority. A coherent plan that includes two or three very specific goals related to evangelization will be developed.
John spent a lot of time on the question: Who should be included on the strategic planning committee? It is important to create a committee that is workable in terms of its size, yet is representative of the many groups that are part of the Archdiocesan structure.
John highlighted very important components of the plan:
— Clearly articulated goals for Pastoral Center and parishes.
— Clearly articulated mission and vision of the Pastoral Center.
— Execution of measurable strategies and tactics to achieve the goals.
— A clear and achievable financial model to support and implement the goals.
APC members were clearly very appreciative of John’s presentation.
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Yesterday afternoon, I had lunch with one of our recently ordained transitional deacons, Deacon Andrea Filippucci, his mother Lucia, and his brother here at the Pastoral Center. Andrea’s mother and brother came all the way from Italy to accompany him during his ordination, so I asked them to join me for lunch before their return.
We had a very nice talk and I was very happy to hear that Andrea’s other 10 siblings and the rest of the family were able to watch the ordination from Italy online at CatholicTV.com!
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And finally, also this week I had the chance to meet with two Capuchins who were visiting Boston to speak about particular ministries they are working on.
Brother Terry Taffe of the St. Mary’s Province in the Northeast is making the effort to raise awareness concerning children in need of families being better served by adoption, rather than temporary placement in foster homes.
There are a number of studies that indicate children experience better outcomes when placed with an adoptive family that nurtures them through their formative years. It is my hope that more people come to understand that adoption can be a positive development in a child’s life and, in many cases, is the best choice for the child.
Father Michael Crosby of the St. Joseph Province of the Midwest is helping to promote the Catholic Campaign for Clothing with a Conscience, offering people the opportunity to reflect on how their purchasing decisions affect men, women and children in other countries and how we can include consideration of social justice and human dignity in our decision making.
As the world becomes more of an interconnected community, it is good to think about where our goods and services originate and the working conditions of people in those places.
Until next week,