Hello and welcome!
Friday, I celebrated the funeral Mass for Father Fred O’Brien at the Cathedral the Holy Cross. His nephew and family gathered with many people from the Hispanic community at the Cathedral to bid him farewell.
Father Bob Murray preached the homily and gave a very moving account of Father’s ministry.
Father O’Brien was very devoted to the Spanish-speaking Catholics of Boston. In fact, he began the first regularly scheduled Spanish-language Mass celebrated in the archdiocese.
I had the pleasure of knowing Father O’Brien for many decades and in fact, he is one of the first priests of Boston I ever met. It was about 45 years ago. We had an association of directors of Hispanic ministries of the dioceses of the Northeast that would gather for meetings. I was director of Hispanic Ministry in Washington at the time, and Father O’Brien and Father Wendell Verrill would attend from Boston. So, I was very well acquainted with the wonderful work of Father O’Brien even from the time I was a newly ordained priest.
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Later that day, I received a number of visitors at the Cathedral. The first was Bishop Ildo Fortes of the Diocese of Mindelo in Cape Verde.
He was visiting the local Cape Verdean community here in the archdiocese and came for a visit. It was a very nice to have a chance meet him.
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I was also visited by a young physician, Dr. Tommy Hyne, who is very interested in the missionary aspects of the life of the Church and wanted to discuss those with me.
I told him I was very impressed by his necktie. He explained that, being a pediatrician, he always wears colorful ties to amuse the children. It certainly amused me!
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We also had a group of young altar servers from St. Francis Xavier Parish in Acushnet stop by the Cathedral with their pastor, Monsignor Gerard O’Connor.
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Sunday, I visited with the community of the Brotherhood of Hope. They have recently moved into the house that was formerly used by the Little Brothers of St. Francis on Mission Hill. So, I came to give the house a blessing.
During my visit, I celebrated Mass for the brothers and some guests who came to join them.
It was very good to be with them and to be able to thank them for all the work they do in the archdiocese, particularly with campus ministry and at the seminary. Of course, I am also very indebted to Father Robert Oliver, who provides invaluable help to me with his work at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children.
The brothers were very excited, because they were about to leave on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where two of their men will be making their profession on Mount Tabor. We pray that they have a safe journey and I know this will be a great moment of renewal and spiritual growth for the Brotherhood of Hope.
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Then, in the afternoon I attended the Massachusetts March for Life held on Boston Common.
We could have had better weather, but there was a very good crowd, despite the rain.
There were a number of speakers at the rally before the March, and Father Matt Williams was very good and animating the crowd, leading the prayers and songs.
We are very grateful to all those at the Massachusetts Citizens for Life who worked so hard to organize this very important March. We are also grateful for the many faithful people who came to participate, pray and witness to the Gospel of Life.
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Monday was the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Each year, we have an exchange of ecumenical delegations with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston on our respective feast days, mirroring the celebrations that take place in Rome and Constantinople.
On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the ecumenical patriarch sends representatives to be part of the celebrations in Rome. Then on the Feast of St. Andrew, which is November 30, the Holy Father sends a representative to Constantinople to participate in the celebrations there.
At our celebration in Boston this year, Bishop Kennedy presided for us and Metropolitan Methodios was represented by Father Demetrios Tonias.
I find the celebration to be a great way to bring Catholics and Orthodox together for prayer and fellowship. The apostles St. Peter and St. Andrew were brothers, and this exchange of delegations is a way of underscoring our very close relationship with the Orthodox Church, which is an Apostolic Church.
This year’s gathering had an added significance, since the Holy Father’s new encyclical on the care for creation, Laudato Si’, quotes extensively from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was very timely to be able to be together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters as we reflect on this new message of Pope Francis.
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These plans reflect the fruit of much reflection and creativity, as the local leaders in those parishes came together and prayerfully mapped out strategies for evangelization and faith formation in their collaboratives.
I congratulate and thank them for all the wonderful work that has been done!
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And finally, tomorrow is of course Independence Day, a very important day for remembering the great gift of our nation. But I would also like to remind everyone that, nationwide, the conclusion of the Fortnight for Freedom is being observed.
We Catholics must always hold up the importance of religious freedom throughout the world. We know in many countries Christians are being persecuted for their faith. Yet, even in our own country, we see that there is less and less space for believers to express their religious convictions and live according to their conscience.
The erosion of conscience protection is a very serious threat to religious freedom in our country and so Catholics are called to be vigilant and remain aware of the repercussions of some legislation and regulations that the government is promoting.
The Closing Mass of the Fortnight for Freedom will be celebrated at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by Cardinal Wuerl at noon on the 4th of July. Though most of us will be unable to attend, I am very happy that the Mass is being broadcast on CatholicTV, which gives us all a chance to participate in some way.
Until next week,