From Cardinal Seán’s blog

“ARISE Together in Christ.”

Summer is going fast and now is the time to start focusing on our big plans for this fall. And so, I would like to say a brief word about our bicentennial renewal program, “ARISE Together in Christ.”

Many parishes will host Arise Sign Up Sunday on Sept. 13 and 14. It will be an opportunity for parishioners to sign up for their small faith sharing communities. The small group leaders have been preparing for this day and we are blessed with the dedication and commitment that so many bring to the work of building up the Church.

The first season of ARISE focuses on Christ, inviting us to explore the theme of “Encountering Christ Today,” and it promises to be very interesting.

Parishes that have not signed up yet but are still interested in participating in the program can contact Mary Ann McLaughlin or Ann Cussen at our Office for Worship and Spiritual Life at or at 617-779-3640.

2010 Initiative

Thursday (Aug. 7), I attended a reception with supporters of the archdiocese’s 2010 Initiative for our Catholic schools. We gathered on Cape Cod, at the Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville with about 100 benefactors and potential benefactors of the Catholic schools.

We wanted to help them to become aware of the need for financial help, especially at this very critical moment in the ministry of our Catholic schools, in light of the very hopeful signs from our experiences in Brockton and now in Dorchester.

Each of us spoke about Catholic education from a different perspective, including John Fish, Jack Connors Jr., Kathleen Driscoll and Peter Lynch, who gave an amazing talk on how important the success of these schools is for our children.

I was amazed that for such a long speakers program, everyone in the audience was so attentive and engaged, which I took as a very hopeful sign.

The current effort is trying to raise $68 million to establish the 1,500-student Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy. We have raised $21.8 million toward this goal. We are extremely grateful to Kathleen, Jack, John and Peter for their strong leadership in this most important initiative.

John introduced a video of our progress at Pope John Paul II Academy in Dorchester, which is scheduled to open Sept. 8. Of the schools that we combined to form the new academy, we have gone from 1,300 students last year to the 1,500 students we expect when the doors open. At the Trinity Academy in Brockton we’ve seen a similar increase; they went from 400 students last year to 525 and with some grades having a modest waiting list.

After the talks and short video, John and Jack led a question and answer period, so everybody had a chance to get involved in the discussion.

We want to make a Catholic education available to the largest number of children possible and to ensure it is truly Catholic and truly one of excellence -- those are really the only two reasons to justify having Catholic schools. But, they are very noble and important reasons for us as a Catholic community. Of course, we are always happy to accept children from other faiths who are looking for a sound moral education and also looking for one that will prepare them for life.

Camp Sunset Point

Monday (Aug. 11) we had a wonderful visit to Camp Sunset Point in Hull.

The Catholic Charities camp “for the little ones” was founded by Cardinal Cushing. Cardinal Cushing had such a great love for all children. We know how much he loved special needs children, but he was also concerned for the needs of our inner-city children and that they would have good summers.

Beth Chambers is a social worker at Catholic Charities and she organized my visit and oversees the camp. Beth told me, it was amazing to me to hear it, that for many of these kids, some of them living in Dorchester, it was the first time in their lives they had ever seen the ocean.

There were a number of Cape Verdean children there, as well as Hispanics and Vietnamese. Many of them did not speak English, but they had a little singing program they put together to greet me.

After I spoke to them, they gave me sandals on sand framed with a large “Thank you” signed by all the children.

I also had a chance to thank the women from a group called Proparvulis, which for many years has raised money for the camp. The camp brings in almost 400 children during the course of the summer.

Part of this is to give the children beautiful memories of their childhoods and to give them a chance to step outside the confines of their city neighborhoods.

I was happy to hear that there are even some children who come back as counselors when they are older. There are also a number of Catholic college students who work there.

Also in this week’s blog:

> Attending the Proud 2B Catholic concert and festival.

> Celebrating the closing Mass of the 2008 Courage Conference.

> Mass and barbecue at the St. John’s Seminary for current and incoming seminarians and their families.