From Cardinal Seán’s blog

The result of Tuesday’s special election was very surprising. It has captured the attention of the world because no one ever suspected that someone who was not a Democrat would be able to be elected to the seat the late Sen. Ted Kennedy held for nearly 50 years. Several commentators have noted that the election has significance beyond Massachusetts, specifically that it points to deeply felt anxiety about the economy, unemployment and the health care debate.

I think it is refreshing that the people of Massachusetts have voted independent of their party affiliation. In the Church we have always encouraged the people to look at issues rather than just vote party-line or vote for sectarian reasons.

We hope that Senator-elect Scott Brown will be successful in his work in Washington. He has pledged himself to represent the people of the Commonwealth well. He has my prayers and the prayers of the people of Massachusetts.

At the same time we are grateful to all the candidates who participate in the democratic process because it requires a great sacrifice from individuals and their families, yet without people willing to run for office we would not be able to have a democracy.

Vicariate dinners

Last Friday, we had the first of a series of vicariate dinners with priests at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Chelmsford. Just as I do frequently with the young priests -- bringing the priests together for prayer, dinner, and conversation -- we thought that during the Year for Priests it would be good to extend this opportunity to all priests.

We have such a large presbyterate, so to have the opportunity to interact in a more intimate, social way is a wonderful opportunity to get to know our priests better and build our priestly fraternity.

Through these dinners we hope to be able to listen to their ideas and to acknowledge the wonderful work that they do and encourage them in their priestly ministry.

Mass with the deaf community

I celebrated Mass with the deaf community at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton on Sunday (Jan. 17), with Sacred Heart’s pastor Father John J. Connelly and Father Hugh Macsherry, a Franciscan, who concelebrated with me. We had a full church.

Father Shawn Carey and Father Jeremy St. Martin, who both work in our deaf apostolate here in the archdiocese, were in Texas at a meeting organized by the National Catholic Office for the Deaf and so they could not participate at the Mass.

It was a wonderful experience to be a part of their liturgy, their worshipping community. Of course, for someone with hearing, one of the strangest things is not having the singing. One of the most moving things was the Prayer of the Faithful where several people in the community prayed for different intentions.

There was a young boy who prayed for the victims of Haiti, particularly those who were in the school for the deaf there who had had some contact with the school where he goes.

I was so impressed at the proficiency of the interpreters, particularly Trudy Schafer, who teaches at Northeastern University and who is an extraordinary asset to the community there.

Then, at the reception, they gave me a crucifix. Until they pointed it out to me, I didn’t even notice that Christ is speaking in sign language from the cross, saying “I love you.”

St. Elizabeth’s volunteers travel to Haiti

On Wednesday, the first contingent of volunteer medical personnel from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital went to Haiti. One of the things we are doing in the Archdiocese to help the recovery efforts is providing support through our Catholic hospitals. The hospitals have asked for volunteer doctors and nurses and about 75 have volunteered.

So, they went down -- the first group of them. John Fish, a good friend of the archdiocese, was kind enough to lend us a plane to transport them to Milot, which is in the north coast of Haiti. The Sacre Coeur hospital where the team was headed is sponsored by the Order of Malta. They are trying to use that facility as a trauma center. The military has begun to transport injured people by helicopter to the hospital where they have a heliport.

There is also a Haitian priest who went down with them who is also a trained emergency worker. They had Mass before they left.

Please keep them and all the earthquake victims they will assist in your prayers.