Hello and welcome!
Last Thursday was Cinco de Mayo, which in many places is an important day of festival because it marks the Mexican celebration of a victory in a battle against the French in the 1800’s.
But this year Cinco de Mayo was also the Feast of the Ascension, and I celebrated Mass for the Hispanic community at the Cathedral the Holy Cross.
In some places the feast has been transferred to the Sunday but, in our part of the world, we are still celebrating the Ascension on Thursday, the 40th day after Easter. One advantage of this arrangement is that it allows us to have a full nine-day novena between the Ascension and Pentecost Sunday. The tradition of the Catholic Church is that the Apostles gathered with Mary and the other disciples for nine days of intense prayer before the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, which was the spiritual baptism of the Church and what we often refer to as “the birthday of the Church.” We do this because, having received the Spirit, the Apostles and disciples began the task of evangelization in earnest.
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I was invited to give the commencement address at Ave Maria University in Florida last Saturday. This is the largest graduating class they have ever had, I believe it was about 300, and the University continues to grow.
These are some pictures from the church, which is really the centerpiece of the campus.
Ave Maria University was the brainchild of Tom Monaghan, an orphan raised in a Catholic orphanage by sisters, who became a millionaire through his many business ventures, including Domino’s Pizza. He has used his considerable fortune to support evangelization in the Church: He created the Catholic college in Nicaragua, built the Cathedral in Managua following the earthquake there, and he has been involved in many acts of mercy and evangelization throughout our own country. Another of his very important works was the founding of Legatus, the organization for Catholic business leaders.
When I was in the Virgin Islands, he sent a plane-load of generators to us following the devastation of Hurricane Hugo. His was the first plane to land on St. Croix after the hurricane. We had to move the debris off the runway to allow the plane to land, and when the people saw the plane with the Domino’s logo on the side, the people began to shout, “The Bishop sent out for pizza!” and I shouted back, “Yes, and it’s going to be free because it took them more than half an hour to deliver it!”
With those generators, we were able to open the Catholic schools in tents almost immediately, whereas the public schools were closed for almost 2 years. This is just one example of the many very generous acts of Tom Monaghan that have made a difference in the lives of so many people.
The mother and brother of Msgr. Robert Oliver, who works with us at the Commission for the Protection of Minors in Rome, live in the town of Ave Maria, created around the university. So, while I was there, I paid them a visit.
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Sunday, I was back in Boston and I celebrated a special Mass for those who suffered in the recent earthquake in Ecuador. Of course, many members of the local Ecuadorian community joined us, including the Honorary Consul General of Ecuador in Boston, Beatriz Almeida de Stein.
The Consul General of Peru and many members of the Peruvian community of Boston were with us, as well.
Father David Costello, the head of the St. James Society, concelebrated with me and there were also representatives from Rostro de Cristo, the organization founded by Father Jim Ronan to work in Ecuador.
At the end of Mass the Consul General addressed the people to thank them for their prayers and all the help they provided for the victims of the earthquake.
I had authorized a special collection in our parishes for the victims of the earthquake. Though we do not have the final results in, I am sure the people of Boston were generous, as they always are, in remembering the suffering of those in need around the world.
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That evening, I went to Holy Family Parish in Rockland to celebrate a Mass with the Brazilian community there. They had just finished celebrating their 25th anniversary of Brazilian ministry in the parish. Father Lima is the Brazilian priest who works with them, and Father Hickey is their enthusiastic and energetic pastor.
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Tuesday, we had one of our St. Andrew Dinners at St. Augustine Parish in Andover. The St. Andrew Dinners are way of encouraging men to consider a priestly vocation, and in their own lives pray and promote vocations in their local communities.
We had about 50 young men who came to learn more about pursuing a priestly vocation. Father Eric Cadin led the program and there were three seminarians who addressed them. The seminarians who spoke were Deacon Matthew Conley, Deacon Dominic Ngo and seminarian Matthew Harrington. Deacon Matthew and Deacon Dominic will be ordained this month and Matthew is at the college seminary at Our Lady of Providence.
At the end, I gave them a brief reflection and engaged in a question and answer session with the young men.
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Wednesday was a busy day of events to be sure. We began by celebrating Mass at the Pastoral Center with the consecrated virgins of the archdiocese. The Mass is organized by our Delegate for Religious, Sister Marian Batho.
After the Mass was a luncheon with discussions and reports. For example, Joani McCann gave a wonderful report on the gathering in Rome for consecrated life. She brought back some very interesting statistics. For example, she mentioned that France is now the country with the most consecrated virgins, with about 600. I found it very interesting and a sign that, as countries become more secularized, this particular ministry is going to take on a greater importance.
At the end of Mass, we invited everyone present to join us outside for the crowning of the Virgin.
It was a beautiful day. The weather was just perfect for that sort of outdoor event and the people were very enthusiastic to be able to participate in this public act of devotion and faith that has such a long tradition the Catholic Church.
That afternoon, we had a reception at the Pastoral Center to thank all the staff for their help and participation in our Annual Catholic Appeal.
Then, that evening, we had one of our regular meetings for ongoing formation of priests ordained in the last five years. We began with a Holy Hour and Vespers followed by a discussion on Amoris Laetitia. As we always do, we concluded our gathering with dinner.
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That night, I joined Catholic Charities for their annual Spring Gala at the JFK library in Dorchester. This year, we honored Bill and Joyce Cummings.
During the dinner one of the clients of Catholic Charities, a young man named Emmanuel Sebit who is a refugee from South Sudan, spoke.
He told us how his family had to flee from South Sudan, and he eventually came to the United States, where Catholic Charities helped him to learn English and get his high school equivalency. He told us he is now in college and doing very well.
He gave a very beautiful speech, filled with gratitude for the United States and for the work of Catholic Charities. One rather touching moment was when he said how, during his first winter here, on New Year’s Eve he heard loud booming and hid under his bed to shelter from what he assumed were artillery blasts. The next time he heard that booming , he was outside and was looking around to see where people would hide, but he said he was confused to see no one was running. Then, he looked up, and had his first experience of fireworks!
He also spoke about the differences between his country and the United States. He spoke of the way that, in his country, people line up for hours for water or a little bit of food. He said here in the States the only kind of lines he’s seen are people lining up at the malls for new kind of iPhone or sneakers!
I was very pleased to learn that the evening raised over $1 million to support the extraordinary work of Catholic Charities. It was a wonderful evening and I was happy to be a part of it.
Until next week,