From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I concluded last week, we were still in the midst of the USCCB's annual Spring Plenary Assembly in Orlando.

As I mentioned last week, our new format of having group discussions is something that I think all of us feel very positive about. When our assembly was basically just the plenary session in front of the TV cameras, there was an entirely different dynamic. Now, there is an opportunity for more bishops to express themselves and for us to get to know each other and exchange ideas.

Among the items we approved was a request of Bishop Francis Malone of Shreveport, Louisiana, to advance the cause of beatification and canonization for five French missionary priests known as the Shreveport Martyrs. They came to Louisiana and gave their lives ministering to the sick during a yellow fever epidemic in 1873. [...]

Bishop Barron also presented a request from his committee that we begin a process of issuing an updated pastoral statement on persons with disabilities in the life of the Church. In an intervention on that item, I wanted to make it very clear how important that topic is, particularly in light of the push for physician-assisted suicide in our country. Our best allies in the defense of life when it is most vulnerable are the disability groups.

I also raised the point that 20 years ago, there was much less experience of the challenges that families with autistic children face. How to minister to these young people and their families is something that we need to look at more carefully in our pastoral work. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I was recently at the Madonna Queen Shrine in East Boston, I was pleased to see that the Don Orione Fathers there have organized a special program for families with autistic children. That program has been very successful, but this is certainly something that, as the Church nationwide, we need to study more and develop concrete ideas of how to better serve these families.

Anniversary Mass

On Sunday, I went to Sacred Heart Parish in East Boston for a Mass to celebrate their 150th anniversary.

Concelebrating with us was, of course, the administrator Father Paolo Cumin and members of the priestly fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo, who are now entrusted with the ministry there. We were also happy to be joined by priests who had served at the parish, including the previous pastor, Father Wayne Belschner.

They have a wonderful choir, and the children's choir from East Boston Central Catholic School sang for us.

It was a beautiful celebration and a reminder that 150 years ago was a time of great growth in the Catholic community as more and more immigrants were arriving on these shores.

Annual retreat

Earlier this week, all our seminarians studying for Boston gathered for their annual retreat. It's a chance for the men from the different seminaries to be together and get to know one another.

Monday, they spent some time in Hull and then came to the cathedral in the evening to join me for Vespers. I gave them a short talk, and then we had a dialogue on different aspects of vocations and the priesthood. It was a very engaging discussion.

We are so blessed to have these extraordinary young men in our seminaries. I always find it an uplifting and life-giving experience to be able to interact with them.