From Cardinal Seán's blog

Last Friday, we had one of our regular meetings of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. As always, it was an opportunity to speak about legislation and other public-policy items of interest to the Church in the Commonwealth.

We were happy to welcome Bishop William Byrne, the new bishop of Springfield, for his first meeting together with us.

Rite of Candidacy

That evening, I went to St. Lawrence Church in Brookline to celebrate the Rite of Candidacy for three seminarians from our Redemptoris Mater Seminary: Diego Alejandro Pena, Francis Trewin, and Javier Padilla.

The Rite of Candidacy marks the entrance into the clerical state and is a public declaration that they will continue to prepare themselves spiritually, academically, and humanly for ordination.

These rites are moments in the journey of a seminarian to recommit to the formation process and to the vocation, and so are important events in the life of the Church.

New York Encounter

Each year in February, Communion and Liberation holds their annual gathering, known as the New York Encounter. This is sort of their American version of "il Meeting" that they have every summer in Italy with over 1 million participants.

This year a great deal of the conference was dedicated to the memories of Don Luigi Giussani and Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete.

Ordinarily, I would have had a Mass with them over the course of the weekend but, this year, because it was virtual, I was happy to be part of their program on Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, who was a close friend of mine from my days in the seminary.

I participated in a panel discussion on Saturday.

They also prepared a wonderful video, created in the format of an old-time television show, featuring clips of Msgr. Albacete and people reflecting on his life and ministry.

I want to thank Olivetta Danese and her team, who work so hard to put on the New York Encounter every year. The New York Encounter always draws thousands of young people, particularly university students, and it is a great service to the Church and a work of evangelization.

Caritas Society

On Tuesday, I was happy to join a virtual meeting for members of the Catholic Appeal's newly created Caritas Society, which includes members of the Cardinal's Leadership Circle. It was an opportunity to thank everyone for all of their hard work last year in making our goal and to introduce Kevin and Rita Gill as the chairpersons of this year's Appeal.

It was also an opportunity to share our new Annual Appeal video, which I think does a good job of demonstrating how our Central Ministries are so supportive of our parishes and schools, particularly during this time of the pandemic.

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday was, of course, Ash Wednesday, and we had five Masses at the cathedral as well as offering the distribution of ashes all day.

I celebrated the 6 p.m. Mass and was very encouraged to see that we had a maximum capacity crowd. In fact, I understand all five Masses were full.

Being the first Ash Wednesday of the pandemic, things were a little bit different this year. The ashes were imposed with a cotton swab on a long wooden stick, and there were also small packets of ashes that people could take to those who could not join us in Church.