From Cardinal Seán’s blog

Last Wednesday (Feb. 3), I attended a St. Andrew’s Dinner at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham.

Regular readers will remember that these are the gatherings we hold periodically with young men who are open to considering a vocation to the priesthood.

This was the first time we met at St. Sebastian’s and the attendance was impressive -- I would say there were about 100 young men. Of course, there were many students from St. Sebastian’s but, as always, attendees came from all over the diocese. There were also several priests and teachers accompanying them.

Two of our seminarians gave very good talks about how they found their vocation. Afterwards, there were some questions and answers and then I addressed the young men.

So far, 2,000 young men have participated in these St. Andrew’s Dinners. It is one of our primary tools of vocation outreach. We are very grateful to the parishes and schools that participate by sending us names of young men who may be discerning God’s call to the priesthood.

The venue was magnificent. St. Sebastian’s School is an extraordinary resource in the archdiocese. It is a school with a very strong Catholic ethos.

Bill Burke, the headmaster, has done a great job there. Our visit coincided with his birthday, so they had a nice birthday cake to celebrate.

The seal of the school has two arrows that symbolize the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. It also includes Tertullian’s famous phrase -- ‘‘Semen est sanguis Christianorum’’ -- which means “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

On Thursday, there was a vicariate dinner meeting at St. Mary Parish in Wrentham.

We have organized these dinners throughout the Year for Priests. They allow me to have an opportunity to spend an evening with the priests of each vicariate in an informal setting where we can get to know each other better.

The next day, we also had a vicariate pastoral planning meeting at Gate of Heaven Parish in South Boston. There we met to present the priorities of the archdiocese to the priests, and receive their input and ideas.

The presentation was made by Father David Couturier, our Director of Pastoral Planning.

That evening, I departed for Peru to visit our men who are serving in the missions with the Society of St. James the Apostle.

Every year, the priests of the society meet at their central house in Lima, usually around the first week of February.

I do my best to be with them every year. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend last year so I was particularly happy to be able to be with them this year.

The St. James Society has been a great blessing for the archdiocese. Over their 52-year history, about 300 priests have been sent to minister in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Currently, there are about 35 priests currently serving in Peru and Ecuador. Right now, only one is serving in Bolivia.

During this last year, we have sent two priests from Boston and there are more priests arriving from Ireland.

During the gathering I gave a couple of conferences on the priesthood, as we celebrate the Year for Priests.

We also had a celebration of anniversaries of priestly ordination on Candlemas Day, Feb. 2.

In the past it was common for Boston priests to be ordained on Candlemas Day. For instance, Bishop Irwin celebrates his anniversary on Candlemas Day and some of his classmates who are priests of the St. James Society were there.

During my visit we also had a lunch with the papal nuncio in Peru and a number of the bishops who came to say how grateful they are for the presence of the St. James Society in their dioceses.