Hello and welcome!
I hope you are all having a happy and blessed Advent!
While this is a joyous time for many, as we prepare to begin the final week of Advent and make our preparations for Christmas, I want to urge everyone to remember and pray for those who are suffering throughout the world, particularly in the Mideast.
Just in these past days, we saw the tragic bombing of the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, which is such an important spiritual home for so many Christians in Egypt. This is just another example of the continuing persecution of Christians in that region. Meanwhile, in Aleppo, we saw the terrible humanitarian tragedy, as civilians continue to be caught in the midst of the ongoing conflict there.
Let us continue to pray fervently for the end of sectarian violence and persecution throughout the world.
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Much of this week I have been in Rome for meetings of the C9 Council of Cardinals advising the Holy Father. However, before I left, we had our annual Advent Gathering for the staff at the Pastoral Center.
We began with the celebration of Mass in Bethany Chapel followed by refreshments. This gathering is always an opportunity for me to thank all those who work at the Pastoral Center for their hard work and dedication, and to celebrate this wonderful time of the year with them.
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Then, that evening, I went to attend the Catholic Charities Greater Boston’s Annual Christmas Gala at the Seaport Hotel in Boston.
A particular focus of the evening’s program, which was emceed by Scott Wahle, was the important work going on at the Teen Center at St. Peter’s in Dorchester.
This wonderful facility has made such a positive impact on the neighborhood.
It was a very successful evening, and while all were certainly there to support the very important work of Catholic Charities Greater Boston, undoubtedly many were also there to celebrate the evening’s two honorees: Fathers Jack Ahern and Doc Conway.
During the evening they were presented with the Richard D. Armstrong, Jr. Service Award for their important work over many years supporting the work of Catholic Charities and their inspiring pastoral presence in the city of Boston.
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The following day, I left for Rome and arrived on Sunday.
That evening, as I always like to do, I took the occasion to have dinner with our Boston seminarians studying in Rome.
After dinner, we had an opportunity to visit St. Peter’s Square, which is so beautifully decorated for Christmas.
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Monday, we began our meetings with the Holy Father and the Council of Cardinals.
In this session, we finished reviewing the works of several curial departments, including Doctrine of the Faith and Consecrated Life. We have given our recommendations to the Holy Father for his review. I had the opportunity to present the most recent activities of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and Cardinal George Pell also spoke about developments related to the Secretariat for the Economy.
Monday was also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I joined the other cardinals in concelebrating Mass with the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Holy Father celebrated in Spanish and it was wonderful to see so many people from Latin America with us for the Mass.
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Tuesday, which was the Feast of St. Lucy, we continued our meetings and that day was also the Holy Father’s 47th anniversary of priestly ordination.
After our meetings concluded for the day, I had an opportunity to have dinner with Msgr. William Helmick and Msgr. Paul McInerny.
After dinner, Msgr. McInerny accompanied me to the wake of Bishop Javier Echevarría, the head of the Prelature of Opus Dei, who died this week and was lying in repose at the Church of Santa Maria della Pace in Rome.
We have a very important presence of Opus Dei in the Archdiocese of Boston, where they do such important work, particularly university students, as well as at Montrose School and their retreat house in Pembroke, Arnold Hall. So, I wanted to be there to express my condolences and to assure them of my prayers during this time of transition.
That night, I passed by the Piazza Navona hoping the visit the Christmas Market there, which was always very impressive. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it up and running again this year.
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Wednesday evening I had dinner with Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. During our dinner, Archbishop Scicluna was very quick to point out that the crèche in St. Peter’s Square was a gift from the nation of Malta!
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Finally, before I conclude, I want to return once again to the topic of our Cheverus Awards, which I mentioned last week.
This week, Poor Clare Abbess Clare Frances McAvoy received her Cheverus Medal in her cloister in Jamaica Plain. It was presented on my behalf by Father Jim Flavin.
Though she wasn’t able to be with us for the awards celebration, we want to congratulate her here, along with all the other award recipients!
Until next week,