I hope you are all having a blessed Holy Week!
As I do each year, I am posting my blog a bit earlier than normal to leave the Triduum free of distractions.
I want to begin this week by saying how very pleased we were to learn that Father Paul Hurley, who has a long and distinguished career serving as a military chaplain, has been named to be Chief of Chaplains for the Army.
We are very proud of the wonderful work that our priests of the archdiocese do on behalf of the men and women of the armed services. The fact that a Boston priest is being named Chief of Chaplains for the Army is one indication of that very excellent ministry. We congratulate Father Hurley on this great honor.
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Also last week I was visited by Mattia del Prete, an Italian architect who is helping us with the project to expand the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. It was a very informative meeting and I was able to look at some preliminary drawings.
Speaking with Mattia
I was very happy to learn that Mattia’s fourth child is a deacon in Rome and that the Holy Father was going to ordain him in a few weeks.
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This past weekend we had our annual retreat for men discerning a vocation to the priesthood, which is organized by our Office for Vocations. I was very pleased with the turnout, we had over 50 retreatants in total.
The retreat has two “tracks”, if you will. We have one group who would be possible candidates for Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, the second-career seminary, and another group of younger men for St. John’s Seminary.
I began by visiting with the men at Pope St. John Seminary. There were 12 retreatants with us and I celebrated Mass for them and then we had a conference.
The other 40 or so retreatants began their retreat at the Betania II retreat center in Medway.
I gave a series of conferences, and there were witness talks and a number of panels on vocations. A number of the seminarians came to assist in the retreat.
On Sunday the retreatants went to St. John’s where we joined in the Palm Sunday Mass with the rest of the seminary family.
Also that day, I went to visit John Moynihan, a decorated Boston police officer who had been honored at the White House for his bravery during the Marathon bombings who had been shot in the face on Friday. Father John Connolly, one of our police chaplains, accompanied me.
Officer Moynihan was in very serious condition, and we visited and prayed with his family and other police officers who had gathered at the hospital. We were there when he came out of surgery, which went well, and we are happy to hear that he has continued to improve.
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Wednesday, delivered the invocation at the dedication ceremony for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.
The President, Vice President and First Lady came to mark the occasion, along with many U.S. Senators and a number of local politicians including Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh.
This new institute will be a tool to educate people about the functioning of the government. Students will be able to go there and learn how the committees are set up, and how our laws are made and debated.
Of course there are many different exhibits, but the centerpiece is an exact replica of the U.S. Senate chamber.
Obviously, the Kennedy family was interested in having some memorial to the Senator but doing this as a way of teaching about the senate, I think, makes a great contribution to our community.
Jean MacCormack will be the president of the new Institute.
She was head of UMass Dartmouth when I was bishop in Fall River and I have known her for many years. She is an excellent person to be running this because of her educational background.
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Tuesday, we celebrated our annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral. I was so happy to see more than 300 priests and deacons in attendance.
For me, the Chrism Mass is one of the most important celebrations of the year, because it brings together all of our priests.
At the Chrism Mass, we bless all the oils that will be used in the baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and anointing of the sick. It is always a great sign of unity because all the priests participate in this blessing, and all the oils are carried back to the parishes to be used throughout the year.
Each year we are also blessed with the presence of Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios who attends our Chrism Mass and he, in turn, invites me to their Easter celebration. He makes a point of attending and before the Mass begins I invite him to address the priests.
He always brings very encouraging and heartfelt sentiments of solidarity, and reiterates our prayer and hope for Christian unity. In his remarks this year, he mentioned that we are marking the 50th year since Blessed Pope Paul VI met with Patriarch Athenagoras and lifted the mutual excommunications that had been in place for nearly 1,000 years. Since then, our two Churches have grown closer and closer and we have great hope for full unity as we go forward.
We were happy to see that a number of our Catholic schoolchildren were able to attend the Mass this year. I always think it’s wonderful when the schools are able to bring their students to see the Chrism being blessed because it will give them a greater connection to their Confirmation when it is time for them to receive the sacrament.
As we do each year, we held a luncheon following the Chrism Mass across the street at Cathedral High.
At the lunch we honored Fathers George Morin, Joe Raeke and William Murphy who were nominated by their peers for special recognition.
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On the evening of Spy Wednesday, we held our celebration of Tenebrae at the Cathedral.
During Holy Week, we are called upon to publicly celebrate some of the Liturgy of the Hours with the community, and I always like to use the celebration of Tenebrae as an opportunity to do that.
The service is essentially the Office of Readings for Holy Thursday and recounts the story of Jesus’ betrayal and death.
The service begins with a large candelabra, called a “hearse,” with many candles. As the story progresses, they are slowly extinguished until we are left in complete darkness. Then the organ plays a what is called the Strepitus, which is deep rumbling — the kind of sound you feel more than you hear.
There are many different interpretations of what its meaning. Many think it represents the earthquake at the time of Jesus’ death.
This evening we begin our celebrations of the Sacred Triduum — among the holiest days of the year — at the Cathedral.
We begin tonight with the Mass of the Last Supper, on Good Friday, we will mark Christ’s trials, crucifixions and death and celebrate his Glorious Resurrection on Easter.
May you all have a blessed Triduum!