From Cardinal Seán's blog
Last Friday, I went to MCI Concord to visit the inmates and celebrate confirmations. Deacon Tom Anthony, who has ministered in the prison system for many years, is doing a fantastic job as chaplain there. The inmates I spoke to were all very enthused about the ministry that is taking place at MCI Concord, and I was also very gratified to see they are making use of the materials that the Order of Malta is supplying for prison ministry.
We visited a new unit there, called the BRAVE Unit, which stands for Building Responsible Adults through Validation and Education. It's a program in which they take young fathers between the ages of 18 and 24 and put them in a special unit where they teach them parenting skills and help get them connected with their children. Older inmates help to mentor them through this process, as well. I have been involved with prison ministry for many years, and it is the first time I've seen a program such as this. It is a very encouraging and creative program that began in Germany and has been very effective in helping break the cycle of recidivism.
After the visit to the BRAVE Unit, we had a Mass at which we had the confirmation of three inmates. They have a wonderful choir and music program made up of inmates and volunteers who were with us.
It was a wonderful visit, and we are very grateful for the warm reception we received from the staff and prison officials. In fact, one of the staff members who introduced himself had a very Portuguese-sounding name, and I mentioned that it was a very common name in Fall River. And he said, "Yes, I am from Fall River, and you confirmed me when I was young!" So, it was nice to make that connection the day I was celebrating confirmations.
Mass at St. Anne Church
Tuesday, I went to St. Anne Church in Sturbridge for a Mass and procession to conclude their 135th annual novena to St. Anne. The Assumptionists run the parish, and the pastor is Father Alex Castro, a Filipino priest who works with the Filipino ministry in the archdiocese. I was very happy to accept his invitation to be a part of the celebration.
They had a very large crowd, with hundreds of people.
It's very impressive to see these long-standing novenas. A couple of years ago, Bishop McManus invited me to participate in another novena in his diocese celebrating its 100th anniversary, the Novena of Grace. In the past, novenas were a big part of the spiritual life of the parishes and were very helpful in helping people to embrace a spirit of prayer. So, I'm pleased to see that there are still places where novenas are an important part of the spiritual life of the faithful.
I told the people that the Holy Father was going to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Shrine in Quebec to meet with the indigenous people there. And I asked everyone to pray for his penitential pilgrimage to Canada and for healing and reconciliation.