From Cardinal Seán’s blog

Happy New Year to all!

Each year since I have been ordained a priest, I have always celebrated a midnight Mass to begin the New Year. This year was no exception.

I remember that when I was in the Virgin Islands, I was amazed at how this custom was central in the spirituality of the people there. Virtually all of the churches would be packed with people going to church to end the old year and begin the new in church. It was really a very moving experience.

When I arrived in Boston, there was already a tradition of having a midnight Mass sponsored by the Pro-Life Office and the Young Adult Ministry, and I have been happy to continue that tradition.

In the past, the New Year’s Eve Mass has usually been celebrated in one of our parishes. This year, however, we thought it might be interesting to try holding it at the cathedral, in light of the fact that there is a First Night celebration in downtown Boston, which is nearby.

We began the evening with a Holy Hour, the theme of which was “Peace.”

Sister Olga Yaqob, who is a native of Iraq and works in campus ministry at Boston University, gave a very moving testimony about her experience of war in her own country.

Just before midnight, we began the Mass that celebrated the New Year and the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God.

We had a wonderful attendance this year from all over the archdiocese -- I would estimate that there were about 600 people, as well as many priests who came to concelebrate. We were very pleased that so many from the Neocatechumenal Way joined us.

It was a very wonderful event and a good way to begin the year 2010 asking God’s blessing for peace in the world and an end to abortion in our country and our society.

Mass with the Haitian community

The next morning, I celebrated Mass with the Haitian community in the archdiocese at the cathedral.

When I came to Boston, I initiated a Mass to mark Haitian Independence Day, which is January 1. It is always a wonderful opportunity to gather the Haitian Catholics from our various parishes to come together in the Cathedral to mark this very important day in their life as a nation. Haiti was the first black republic in the world, having had a slave rebellion that freed them from French colonialism over 200 years ago.

At the end of the very long and beautiful Mass, we chanted the “Te Deum.” It is the custom of the Haitians to begin the New Year with that beautiful hymn that is traditionally said in Catholic countries on New Year’s Day. It is a prayer from the breviary of praise and thanksgiving to God.

FOCUS conference

Later that day, I travelled to Florida to join a group of Boston students in attending the bi-annual conference of FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students).

There were many inspiring speakers and I celebrated the closing Mass for the conference, which, I would say, was attended by about 6,000 young people.

Last year, we brought FOCUS to the archdiocese to assist in campus ministry. FOCUS is a peer ministry by young adults who commit themselves to be missionaries for a year or two and to work in campus ministry throughout the country. We have four such missionaries who come to help us in Boston with campus ministry, which, of course, for us is such an important activity since we have about a quarter of a million college students.

The service they provide to the Church is truly inspiring. We know that it is making a big difference on many, many campuses throughout the country.