Hello and welcome!
On Friday evening we gathered for vespers and dinner with the college seminarians and our seminarians who are studying English as a second language. I always enjoy these opportunities to get to know our seminarians better.
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On Tuesday, we had a Mass at the Cathedral to thank supporters of our Campaign for Catholic Schools.
We were so delighted that a number of students from Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy sang for us and also performed in the bell choir. Some of them told me they had just made their First Communion.
With us at the Mass and the reception that followed was Norah O’Donnell, from CBS This Morning and 60 Minutes.
She spoke about her gratitude for her own Catholic education, her career in journalism, as well as her interview with me that aired on 60 Minutes last fall.
During the evening we also heard from Jack Connors and Chris Boland, who are very much involved in supporting the Campaign.
In my remarks, I spoke about the importance of a Catholic education, and the wonderful work being done to educate youngsters especially in the urban areas of Boston.
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Wednesday was our annual convocation for priests.
Father Barron said he was originally going to speak on the theme of “Priest, Prophet and King” but he gave each of us a video on those topics. Instead, he addressed three other aspects of the spiritual life of the priest. First, he talked about the importance of finding your “center” in a personal relationship with Christ. Secondly, he spoke about acknowledging that we are sinners. Thirdly, he said that we must realize that our life is not all about us, but that all of us are part of God’s plan and that we have a mission.
It is always a delight to hear Father Barron. He is not only a very eloquent speaker, but he is able to draw from his great knowledge of popular culture and connect that to his themes of theology.
Father Mark O’Connell introduced Father Barron, but also offered his own reflection about the challenges and trials experienced by the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston over the last decade.
Father Mark’s address was very well received by the priests.
Towards the end of our gathering, Bishop Uglietto also addressed us, recalling our brothers in the ranks of the clergy who have died in the last few months, including several sitting pastors. He talked also about the process of Pastoral Planning.
Finally, I concluded the gathering by speaking about the importance of priestly fraternity and the pastoral challenges that we face.
I called on the priests to do a personal inventory, looking at how much time is spent on parish maintenance and taking care of the existing flock, compared to how much time is spent on outreach. That is going to be the secret of our success going forward, if we are to become a truly evangelizing Church.
I also talked about the challenges and opportunities that we have in serving two particular groups that are large — and growing — in our archdiocese: our immigrant population and our young people. We have one of largest percentages of young adults in the United States, those between 25 and 35 years of age — and that does not even count the hundreds of thousands of university students who are present in the Archdiocese of Boston. So, when they say there aren’t a lot of young people in our pews, it’s not because there aren’t a lot of young people in Boston. It certainly is a challenge — it’s the most secularized and un-churched portion of the population – but we need to be constantly praying, strategizing and working to reach out to young people and be empowering young people to be peer ministers. In particular, I mentioned how important FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) has been on the college level.
I know that Msgr. Bill Fay will continue the great work that Father Richard Clancy has begun in campus ministry. Going forward, we are going to look at ways to better serve schools where commuters make up a large portion of the student population. Of course, it is more of a challenge to provide campus ministry in those places because the students are not in residence, but it is a population that we need to turn our attention toward.
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Finally this week, I want to ask all of you to continue to work and pray for those who are suffering in Nepal. Having experienced small earthquakes, I can only imagine the terror that the people in Nepal have experienced in recent days.
Here in the archdiocese, we have already begun to take up collections to support the work of Catholic Relief Services, the relief arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We are very grateful for all those who show generosity at a time like this. We also encourage people to pray for the victims and their families — people who, in many cases, have not only lost loved ones but also their homes and their jobs and are facing terrible hardships.
Until next week,