2007: Five years into the journey


Boston Christian leaders gather to pray for unity and charity

Jan. 24: Religious leaders Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Metropolitan Methodios of the Greek Orthodox Church and Rev. Diane Kessler of the Massachusetts Council of Churches led the ecumenical celebration of the word at St. John Chrysostom Parish in West Roxbury. Those assembled from the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Protestant faiths prayed for the poor and took up an offering to benefit a Roslindale food pantry.

Cardinal calls for immigration reform after federal raids on plant

March 6: After federal authorities and local police raided a New Bedford manufacturing plant, detaining 327 illegal immigrants and arresting the firm’s owner and managers, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said this “alarming” event “underscores the great need we have for immigration reform in the United States.”

Cardinal, groups, BPD commissioner meet to tackle violence

April 30: Attempting to find ways to bridge the gap between police and youth in order to stem the violence in the streets of Boston, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, representatives from the Boston Catholic Youth Connection and 50 members of 12 inner-city parishes met at the Catholic Charities Yawkey Center April 30. “All of us feel a great deal of frustration as we see the violence continuing,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “The community has a long way to go, but meeting here tonight is a step in the right direction.”

Archdiocese sells most of Brighton campus to BC

May 24: The Archdiocese of Boston announced May 24 agreements to sell the chancery buildings and Bishop Peterson Hall to Boston College and relocate the central administration to Braintree. The three Brighton buildings on nearly 20 acres will net the archdiocese $65 million. “We have reached a significant milestone in announcing this agreement,” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley. “Proceeds from this sale will allow the archdiocese to invest resources for the benefit of our parishes, clergy, St. John’s Seminary and the many important programs that serve a large number of people.” The archdiocese has also struck a deal with The Flatley Company to use a nine-year-old, 140,000-square-foot building on Brooks Drive in Braintree. Through this most recent deal, the remainder of the Brighton property, save St. John’s Seminary, will belong to Boston College. Bishop Peterson Hall, which is attached to St. John’s Seminary, is intended as the future home of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

Archdiocese to launch spiritual program for bicentennial

June 22: The Archdiocese of Boston announced that a comprehensive process of spiritual renewal will serve as a centerpiece for the celebration of its 200th anniversary in 2008. This process, to be offered by RENEW International, is titled “ARISE: Together in Christ” and parishes and campuses will have the opportunity to participate in the process in fall 2008.

Marriage amendment blocked

June 14: Massachusetts legislators voted 151-45 in opposition to the marriage amendment, which was left just five votes shy of the 50 votes necessary for it to appear on the 2008 ballot. Due to changes in seats after the November 2006 elections and the last-minute switch of nine legislators, the amendment that sought to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman in the Massachusetts constitution was defeated.

Caritas Christi Health Care and Ascension Health break off merger talks

June 28: The Archdiocese of Boston/Caritas Christi Health Care and Ascension Health issued the following joint statement June 28: “In February, the Archdiocese of Boston, Caritas Christi Health Care and Ascension Health entered into good faith discussions to explore a change in sponsorship of the Caritas Christi Health system. In considering a potential relationship, we sought to align two strong and leading healthcare systems that share a similar commitment to Catholic healthcare. As in any negotiation of this scale, we approached the process with a clear understanding of the need for the parties to reach agreement on numerous terms in order to move forward. While we hoped to reach a definitive agreement, regrettably, after months of good faith efforts, we have collectively determined that is not possible and we have agreed not to pursue an affiliation.”

Planning critical to continue mission, committee says

Aug. 3: To stay faithful to the Church’s mission locally, the Archdiocese of Boston must assess its resources and maximize them through comprehensive planning, according to a report issued by the Pastoral Planning Committee. The Pastoral Planning Committee was formed in January 2006 and charged with the task of suggesting ways for the archdiocese to effectively use its assets to continue God’s mission in the future. In its report, the committee has recommended the formation of a second committee that would develop and implement a pastoral plan for Boston. The document said that, based on statistics, the archdiocese has a seven-year window to act and must have an aggressive timeline, finalizing the plan in three years. The archdiocese needs to enable vibrant worship communities, reach out to alienated Catholics and rebuild trust in its leaders. Members of the Church in Boston need to work toward a “culture of planning” with trust, unity and hope, it added.

Caritas Christi president defends system’s vitality, looks to future

Nov. 9: Dr. John Chessare, interim president of Caritas Christi Health Care, is standing by the vitality of his healthcare system in the wake of recent media reports. The reports, led by a series of articles in The Boston Globe, have questioned the financial health of the Caritas Christi system and particularly focused on the viability of Caritas Carney Hospital in Dorchester. The media’s focus on the system has prompted reaction from the Attorney General’s Office and local politicians, including Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

“There’s a lot of mythology out there that has been generated by the media that we’re floundering,” Chessare said. “The reality is that we spent the prior six months generating three-year rolling business plans for each of our entities.” Caritas completed its third profitable year Sept. 30 following six consecutive years of losses. The only hospital to finish in the red in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 was Caritas Carney in Dorchester, which serves a low-income population.

No Boston stop for pope during U.S. visit

Nov. 12: Putting to rest months of speculation about a possible visit to Boston, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced Nov. 12 that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Washington and New York April 15-20, 2008. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said he had invited the Holy Father to make a stop in Boston during the archdiocese’s bicentennial year, but he added that he understood that at 80 the pope might want to limit his travels.

Priests gather for day of prayer and fellowship

Nov. 20: More than 400 priests from the Archdiocese of Boston participated in a day of prayer and fellowship Nov. 20. The Presbyteral Convocation was a follow-up to a previous convocation held Sept. 14. The gathering, titled “Healing Reconciliation and Forgiveness,” included adoration and a penance service. The men began the day in song and prayer, their voices filling the banquet hall at the Newton Marriott Hotel. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, who led the opening prayer, said the September convocation assessed the past while the November convocation was a time to gather for prayer and fellowship.

Carney Hospital awarded for excellence in patient care

Nov. 30: Caritas Carney Hospital has been honored by the Premier Healthcare Alliance with the 2007 Premier CareScience Select Practice National Quality Award for superior patient outcomes in both quality and efficiency. Caritas Carney Hospital is one of only 49 hospitals nationally, the top 1 percent of acute inpatient facilities, recognized with the Select Practice Award. Among the more than 4,700 acute care inpatient facilities in the United States eligible to receive the award, Carney Hospital exhibited the highest performance level in both quality and efficiency of patient care.

Mass marks opening of bicentennial year

Dec. 2: Clergy and laity, young and old, native-born and immigrant all came together at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross Dec. 2 to celebrate the opening Mass of the yearlong bicentennial celebration of the Archdiocese of Boston. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley presided at the Mass, which was concelebrated with more than 100 priests from the archdiocese, and six bishops. Representatives from each parish in the archdiocese were invited to attend. “As we begin our bicentennial, we too, look back with a sense of profound gratitude and look forward with hope,” Cardinal O’Malley said in his homily.

Rebuilt Weymouth church dedicated

Dec. 15: “Isn’t it great to be in our new church?” asked Pastor Father Dan Riley at the conclusion of the first Mass and dedication of the new Sacred Heart Church. After his question, the crowd of 600 parishioners and guests erupted into enthusiastic cheers and applause. The previous church at Sacred Heart, built in the 1870s, was destroyed by a seven-alarm fire on June 9, 2005. For the past two-and-a-half years parishioners have worshiped in their “churchatorium,” the name they affectionately gave the auditorium of Sacred Heart School.

Senate confirms Mary Ann Glendon as U.S. ambassador to Vatican

Dec. 19: The Senate confirmed Mary Ann Glendon, a law professor and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, as the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Dec. 19. President George W. Bush had announced plans to nominate Glendon Nov. 5. Glendon is a law professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and has been a member of the Social Sciences Academy since its founding in 1994.

Compiled by Neil W. McCabe