From Cardinal Seán's blog

I spent much of my week at the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, before I left, we had one of our regular meetings of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, which is a body that advises me very much like a local parish council advises a pastor.

At the meeting, we dedicated a lot of the time to looking at the questions that the Holy See has been circulating regarding the theme for next year's Extraordinary Synod on marriage and the family. I was delighted to see how happy the members of the Council were to be able to make those contributions. We will also be sending these questions out to the parish councils and staff's to look at as well. Also during the meeting, we heard from three representatives of parishes that are taking part in the first phase of our pastoral planning initiative, Disciples in Mission. We heard from Father Brian Flynn, pastor of St. Mary's and Sacred Heart Parishes in Lynn; Casey Grant representing St. Joseph's and St. Luke's in Belmont and Mike McShane representing St. Mary's, St. John's and St. Margaret's in Beverly. While every period of change also comes with its challenges, particularly at first, they said that there is great hope and energy being generated in the parishes and they are beginning to see many positive benefits from parish collaboration. We were all pleased that they are so enthusiastic about the pastoral planning process and I see it as a very positive and hopeful sign as we move forward with our Pastoral Plan.

On Saturday (11/9), I departed for Baltimore, where the U.S. Bishop's annual fall meeting is held. Over the weekend, I participated in committee meetings for the administrative board, the Pro-Life Committee and the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa.

Celebration for Father Cesario

Then, Sunday night (11/10), I attended the celebration at the Dominican house of studies in honor of Father Romanus Cesario, a distinguished member of the St. John's Seminary faculty who was receiving the degree of Master of Sacred Theology from the order. A number of priests and people from St. John's seminary were also present to accompany him during that celebration. Though the name may make it seem like a typical academic degree, it is not. Rather, it is a rank of honor conferred upon a Dominican scholar who, over his lifetime, has made a significant contribution to the field of theological studies. In that sense, it is something like a lifetime achievement award... I know I join everyone in the archdiocese, particularly those at St. John's Seminary and the hundreds of priests he has instructed over the years, in congratulating Father Romanus on receiving this great honor.

USCCB Meetings

We began our gathering Monday (11/11) with a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the co-cathedral of the archdiocese of Baltimore, which was built by the United States' first bishop, John Carroll. It is a very beautiful and historic church and, since its renovation a few years ago, it is just stunning. Later that day, the plenary sessions of the fall meeting began... Perhaps one of the most widely anticipated actions we took during our meeting was the election of our new president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky who will succeed Cardinal Dolan in that position... I also want to express my congratulations and best wishes for Archbishop Kurtz as he begins his tenure as president. Archbishop Kurtz is truly an extraordinary human being, priest and bishop. He is a man of deep compassion, who comes out of the Church's tradition of service to the poor and underprivileged. We are very grateful for his generosity in accepting the responsibility of becoming our new president.