From Cardinal Seán’s blog

After attending World Youth Day in Australia this past August, I visited Papua New Guinea where there are friars from my Order stationed as missionaries. While there, I saw the beautiful image pictured on the front of this card. I wanted to share it with you.

Sr. Maria, a Franciscan Missionary of Mary, and a world-renowned artist, painted Mama bilong jisas (”Jesus’ Mother” in the Pidgin language of Papua New Guinea). The painting is a representation of the Child Jesus and His Mother Mary as seen through the eyes of the native peoples of this Pacific island-nation. The image can be seen in homes and churches across the country. The depiction of Christ and His Blessed Mother as Papua New Guineans helps the people to identify more closely with Christ and demonstrates the universality of our Catholic faith.

Catholic Charities Christmas Gala

Sunday night, we attended the Catholic Charities Christmas Gala at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. The larger organization, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, was formed from the local chapters in the communities that still retain some amount of autonomy. This event was hosted by the Greater Boston Catholic Charities, which hosts the gala every year. Vivian Soper did a great job organizing it along with the president of the board of advisors, Michael Gilleran, and the rest of their board. The president of Catholic Charities, Tiziana Dearing, gave a talk about the difficulties people are facing at this time.She noted that it was great that we can have a “Christmas” Gala. After all, we are a Catholic organization, whose mission began the night Christ was born.

As part of the program, the second and third graders from the Columbia Road campus of the Pope John Paul II Academy presented a Christmas Pageant. Afterwards, teenagers from Dorchester’s Teen Center at St. Peter’s performed traditional Cape Verdean dances for us. This year’s gala raised more money than at any other time in the history of the event. I think this reflects the heightened awareness on the part of the public that so many people are suffering because of the economic downturn.

Just in the last three months, Catholic Charities has given out more than $80,000 in fuel and rent assistance. Our food pantries are being used heavily and our parishes have responded so well to help restock those shelves, as the needs are greater than ever.

We are very grateful that people are responding, given that the forecasts are that things will get worse before they get better. This is a time when many people will be turning to the Church as they lose their jobs and, in some cases, even their homes.

Christmastime was a time when the Holy Family was homeless, there was no room for them at the inn. We must make sure that there is room in our hearts to make sure there is room for those in need.

Also in this week’s blog:

- “A Night in Bethlehem” at Saint Agnes Church in Reading

- meeting with Rwandan author Immaculée Ilibagiza

- visit of members of the Fraternity of Saint Charles Borromeo

- farewell lunch for retiring members of the Cardinal’s office staff