Hello and welcome!
I want to begin by saying what a great joy it was for me to see Pope Paul VI beatified by our Holy Father this past week.
Paul VI was the first pope I ever met in person. I met him because, as a young friar, I would go to our General Chapter to serve as an interpreter, and at the end of the chapter we would always have a private audience with the Holy Father. At each of those meetings, Pope Paul would talk to us about his relationship with the Friars that he had known growing up and those who took care of his parents at the end of their lives. He would also always give us a gift. One of those gifts was a Bible that I still cherish to this day.
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Now on the events of my week…
Thursday evening, I went to Chestnut Hill to visit Mother Olga Yaqob and her sisters, the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, a new religious community in the archdiocese that is thriving.
We had a Mass and dinner with the sisters, as well as a number of their friends and supporters who were present. Father Robert McCreary was also with us at the Mass. He has been helping the sisters in his role as spiritual director and has been helping them draft their constitution.
The Mass was held outdoors in a tent, but despite the rain it was a very beautiful occasion. The sisters sang a number of songs for us and it was an opportunity for people to hear Mother Olga speak about the progress that the community has made in the last few years.
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On Friday, I was visited by Father Joseph Bisson, SVD who was visiting from Papua New Guinea.
With Father Bisson, his nephew Steven, and Father Emilio Biosca who was visiting me from Cuba, but was for 10 years in Papua New Guinea
Father Bisson is from Boston but he has been working in Papua New Guinea for almost 50 years. He is stationed in the town next to the diocese that is entrusted to the Capuchin mission, so he knows many of our friars there.
This week I was also visited by Bishop Bevard of the Virgin Islands who was in the area doing mission appeals in New Hampshire.
Of course, this was the week of World Mission Sunday and so I was happy to receive these missionaries. World Mission Sunday reminds all of us of our obligation to support the missions with our prayers and with our sacrifices.
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Friday night I had evening prayer with our seminarians who are in their third year of theology. It is always a wonderful opportunity to have these meetings with the seminarians in order to get to know them better, answer their questions and hear first-hand about what is happening in our seminary.
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Saturday, I went to East Boston for the celebration of El Señor de los Milagros (The Lord of Miracles) at Most Holy Redeemer Parish.
This is a Peruvian devotion that goes back to colonial times when there was a terrible earthquake in Lima. There was almost total devastation, but standing above the rubble, and seemingly untouched, was one wall of a church that had a mural of the crucifixion.
That has been the object of great devotion in Peru, where each year in October they hold one of the largest processions in the world. I understand that at times they have had between 3 and 4 million people in the streets of Lima for the procession. Traditionally, the people wear purple for the feast.
When I was a young priest in Washington I celebrated the feast every year with the Peruvians and we had the image of El Señor de los Milagros in our church, Sacred Heart.
Father Tom Domurat, the pastor, is doing such a wonderful job at Holy Redeemer. He is very encouraging of the popular religiosity of the immigrants of his parish who come from many different countries. For example, earlier this year they had a very large Salvadoran celebration, Cristo Salvador Del Mundo.
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Sunday, I was happy to celebrate the Mass at the Cathedral to honor of our Catholic Appeal donors and volunteers.
It was moving to see the chapel nearly filled to capacity and to share the Eucharist with so many of our faithful who give generously to the Catholic Appeal.
After the Mass we had a light reception in the Cathedral Hall.
We heard remarks from Father Lou Palmieri, pastor of the Quincy collaborative, and John Corcoran, an Appeal volunteer at St. John the Baptist Parish in Essex.
Both Father Lou and John spoke about how his parish community has been strengthened through the more than 50 ministries and programs funded through the Appeal.
In my remarks, I thanked the people for their strong commitment to the Appeal and for being a sign of the joy of the faith we live and believe in as Catholics.
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On Monday, I went to Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden to celebrate Mass with nearly 1,000 members of Cursillo in the archdiocese.
The wonderful thing about the Cursillo is that, more than any other group in the archdiocese, it really reflects the catholicity of the Church. For example, at the Mass we were joined by the Melkite Eparch Bishop John Elya and members of the Melkite Catholic community, a large Vietnamese contingent, a large Hispanic contingent, and a large Portuguese-speaking contingent along with many other parish groups.
Of course the pastor, Father Dick Mehm, stood up and said, “I want all of you to register in this parish right now!”
Of course the singing was just extraordinary. I was particularly struck by some of the songs that were sung in Vietnamese which were particularly beautiful.
The Cursillo movement is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It is a wonderful apostolic movement in the Church, which has prepared a number of lay leaders. When I was in the seminary, I made the Cursillo with the Latin Americans in Washington. The Cursillo movement started in the United States in Texas. At first, they were only given in Spanish and it was not until the mid-60s that they began to give Cursillos in English. It made a very important contribution, because so many leaders of the Hispanic community – a very large percentage of them – were Cursillistas. Many of those people went on to become catechists, permanent deacons and members of parish councils. Even today, when you go to visit the prisons, all the volunteers are usually Cursillistas.
It is a wonderful blessing for us and we are very grateful to Neal Finnegan, Mary Ann McLaughlin, Father Martin Hyatt and so many other leaders who are involved in Cursillo. I encouraged the Cursillistas to continue to invite people to be part of the Cursillo itself. It is a wonderful experience that prepares them for ministry and evangelization in the Church.
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Tuesday we had the Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians in Newton with the students who received Peter S. Lynch Scholarship from the Catholic Schools Foundation this year.
Peter Lynch was with us along with Mike Reardon who runs the Catholic School Foundation and our new Superintendent, Kathy Mears.
We are so grateful to the Catholic School Foundation for these scholarships, which will make such a difference in the lives of these young people. We know that it is a great encouragement to them to continue doing well in their studies and to continue on the path of their Catholic education.
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That evening, we had a St. Andrews Dinner for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood at St. Mary’s High School in Lynn. Most often, we have these dinners at the seminary, which has the advantage of allowing the young men to see and experience seminary. But sometimes it is also good to have a change of venue.
There is a wonderful campus ministry at St. Mary’s and a very strong Catholic identity in the school, which was strongly reflected in the young men who were part of the evening. Andrea Alberti and Chris Carmody do a wonderful job with the campus ministry there.
We began with Vespers in the school chapel followed by dinner in the library.
We did have sort of an icebreaker exercise that I found very amusing, guessing the identity of a “mystery priest” based on personality traits.
We ended with a birthday cake for Father Dan Hennessey.
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Wednesday, I celebrated the Alumni Mass at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston, held as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. There were about 60 priests who came from all over the country – from as far away as Alaska — to be there.
Afterwards, we had a very nice dinner.
I congratulated them on managing to get their patron canonized as part of their 50th anniversary celebration — I thought that was very ingenious of them!
Pope John XXIII had made the comment that “a vocation can come at any time in a man’s life” and that was the inspiration for Cardinal Cushing establishing what was originally called Pope John XXIII Seminary.
By the time the seminary was actually open, the Holy Father was Pope Paul VI. It was Pope Paul who gifted to the seminary the portrait of John XXIII that hangs outside the Chapel.
They have beautiful portraits of both John XXIII and Cardinal Cushing outside the Chapel.
I’ve always very much admired those portraits of two great men in the history of our Church.
Until next week,